Cajuns glad to turn focus on Sun Belt play on football schedule _lowres

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK UL-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth talks with defensive back Jeryl Brazil on the sideline during a game against Akron on Sept. 26, 2015, at Cajun Field.

LAFAYETTE — One of the many problems associated with Louisiana-Lafayette’s inability to cause turnovers this season has been how it has frequently forced the Cajuns offense to start with poor field position.

“We’ve only caused five turnovers this year, so when we get the ball offensively we’re going 80 yards every time we get the ball,” coach Mark Hudspeth said.

He was pretty accurate in that statement. More than half of the Cajuns offensive possessions this season have started inside their own 25-yard line.

While that’s to be expected in some regards, what’s really hurt the Cajuns has been their inability to give the offense a short field to work with.

The Cajuns have had 90 possessions this season, and only six of them have started inside opponents’ territory — four of which came in a win against Texas State.

The inequity in starting field position was especially costly last week against Arkansas State when the Cajuns had 15 possessions, and all of them except one started inside their own 30.

The one outlier came when they started on their own 41 following an Arkansas State interception, a turnover they turned into six points to cut the Red Wolves’ lead to 10 with 11 minutes remaining.

“To drive 70, 80 and 90 yards every time, there’s a lot that can happen,” Hudspeth said. “One bad play gets you off balance or off track. When you can get in short fields, you have a chance to take some shots and throw for the end zone, get in field goal range and get points.

“That comes with causing turnovers, and we haven’t caused near enough turnovers. We didn’t in the first half of last year, but hopefully, just like last year, we can get that turned around and create some more.”

Probable/questionable/doubtful

Jamal Robinson, who missed the second half of the Arkansas State game with an injured foot, was back out at practice Tuesday, and Hudspeth is confident that he’ll be ready to go against UL-Monroe.

Defensive back Troy McCollum has missed the past two games with a sprained ankle, and Hudspeth said Monday that he doubted he would play Saturday. But McCollum practiced Tuesday in an orange non-contact jersey.

“He might be questionable now,” Hudspeth said. “The athletic trainer said he’s made a little progress in the last couple days with treatment. He wanted to see how he ran around. … Later in the week, if we think he can be effective, maybe he’ll get to play some.

“Even though you can run and move around, can you push off and really be effective in full speed, man-to-man. That’s going to be the deciding factor.”

Things aren’t looking as good for T.J. Worthy, who was not at practice Tuesday. Worthy played sparingly against Arkansas State, but he didn’t look quite right to Hudspeth.

“I don’t know if he’s going to make it back this week or not,” Hudspeth said. “He’s been back, but he still doesn’t look 100 percent when you watch him run. He got beat the other night on the touchdown and he didn’t come out of that break very good.”

Start times announced

The UL-Lafayette athletic department announced the start times for the rest of the Cajuns home games Tuesday.

Both the Cajuns’ Nov. 21 game against New Mexico State and the Dec. 5 regular-season finale against Troy will kick off at 4 p.m. This week’s homecoming game against UL-Monroe will also kick off at 4 p.m.

Television coverage for the New Mexico State and Troy games will be announced at a later date.

Change in scenery

With heavy rainfall inundating the area in recent days, the Cajuns took to Cajun Field for Tuesday’s practice rather than their usual spot outside the indoor practice facility.

“The (practice) fields are way too wet, they’re under water,” Hudspeth said. “In the indoor, you can’t catch punts and you can’t catch kicks because it hits the ceiling.”

With rain expected in the area Saturday, Hudspeth said his team might even practice in the rain “as long as it’s not a torrential downpour.”