Cajuns expecting to see different Tyler Jones against Texas State _lowres

Associated Press photo by Bradley Leeb Texas State quarterback Tyler Jones is sacked by Illinois defensive lineman Jihad Ward last month at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill.

In Louisiana-Lafayette’s 48-24 win over Texas State last season, Bobcats quarterback Tyler Jones was a true freshman making his second career start, and it showed.

The Cajuns are not likely to see the Tyler Jones they saw last season this time around.

Jones’ 12 touchdown passes lead the Sun Belt Conference, and his 68.4 completion percentage ranks just percentage points behind the conference leader. His stats are a by-product of great decision making, Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth said.

“The guy is so efficient,” Hudspeth said. “You can tell he’s really improved from Year 1 to Year 2. He doesn’t make many bad decisions.”

The Bobcats are a run-first team, but Jones helps out in that department as well.

Jones has carried the ball a team-high 69 times this season, and he’s been effective when doing so, with 253 yards and four touchdowns to his credit.

“He’s not a blazing runner, but he’s an effective runner when he pulls the ball,” Hudspeth said, referring to Jones’ ability on the read-option. “He makes good reads and he gets effective yards. He makes you respect him.”

Jalen Nixon, who is serving a season-long suspension for the Cajuns, has been acting as Jones on the Cajuns’ scout team offense, and Hudspeth said he’s been giving the Cajuns an excellent look.

It’s not quite the same as game action, though.

“You can try to simulate, but you’re never going to be able to do it exactly with the type of athlete you’re going to see,” Hudspeth said.

Schedule talk

The Cajuns’ nonconference schedule for 2016 has been finalized. According to a report from the Athens Banner-Herald, the Cajuns will travel to face Southeastern Conference opponent Georgia in November 2016.

Also on the Cajuns’ nonconference slate are Boise State, McNeese State and Tulane. The Cajuns will open the 2016 season at home against the Broncos to complete a home-and-home series that started this season.

The Cajuns will earn $1.2 million to play the Bulldogs, according to the report.

Harris back deep?

Senior running back Alonzo Harris approached Hudspeth and told him he wanted an opportunity to return kicks. Hudspeth might just give him that shot.

“He’s not going to get the first one, we’ll see how the game goes,” Hudspeth said. “But I may give him an opportunity to return a kick.”

Harris has never returned a kick in his Cajuns career.

Status report

The Tuesday kickoff allowed the Cajuns some extra time to heal some injuries heading into the Texas State contest, but they could’ve used some more time.

Safety Trevence Patt is still dealing with an ankle he injured in the Georgia State game, and he is not likely to start Tuesday. Hudspeth said not much has changed with running back Elijah McGuire and his lingering turf toe injury.

“He’s a little better, but with that turf toe, he’ll have to manage it all year,” Hudspeth said.

Defensive back Simeon Thomas, who has to sit out the entire season because he is not academically eligible, returned to practice after sitting out for nearly two months with a leg injury.

“He’s a guy that can be a difference maker,” Hudspeth said. “It was good to get him back out there and see him get some reps in practice and sharpen his game. He’s a guy that can be an outstanding player.”