With his team in need of a spark on defense, UL-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth is shifting around his starting secondary ahead of Saturday’s matchup with Boise State.
Senior Trevence Patt is moving from strong safety to cornerback in place of Dominick Jones. Junior T.J. Worthy ascends to the starting spot at strong safety.
The Cajuns allowed nearly 300 first-half passing yards in last week’s loss at Ole Miss, and their 279-yard average ranks near the bottom of the Sun Belt in pass defense.
“We’re going to see if that move will help us,” Hudspeth said. “Obviously Patt is not a stranger to corner. It’s not new for him. Hopefully that may make us a little more secure on the back edge, plus you’ve got a bigger corner there.”
Hudspeth said he’s not concerned about Patt making the transition. Patt started 12 games at cornerback last season, making the move from safety to corner in the middle of the season opener.
“Last year, we moved him at halftime of the Arkansas game, and he had probably the best half of football he’s played,” Hudspeth said. “He’s pretty good at making quick changes. He’ll get a lot of work this week, and he’s sparingly played some corner during fall camp.”
Worthy started 10 games at safety last season, picking off a pair of passes and finishing fourth with 59 tackles. Worthy missed a large chunk of preseason camp while recovering from a concussion but has been cleared for contact for the past several weeks.
Hudspeth said Patt will be Worthy’s backup in case Worthy gets hurt.
It’s confidence, mate
Punter Daniel Cadona was honored Monday as special teams player of the week by the Sun Belt and the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, and he was named the College Football Performance Awards’ punter of the week. The Australian averaged 51.1 yards on seven boots against Ole Miss, killing three inside the 20, and only two were returned for a total of 17 yards.
Cadona ranks fourth nationally with a 49.3-yard average while posting nine punts of 50 yards or more. The Cajuns are fourth nationally in net punting.
“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “The more we punt, that’s less that the offense is working. I do whatever the team needs me to do, but I wanna stay off the field more.”
Where they rank
UL-Lafayette leads the nation in fewest average yards allowed on kickoff returns, with opponents averaging only 9.3 on seven returns. The Cajuns rank third and fourth nationally in fewest penalties committed and fewest yards penalized (eight penalties for 63 yards) through three games.
Time on their hands
The Cajuns will have a 31/2-hour flight to Boise, Idaho, on Friday and a long wait Saturday before the 8:34 p.m. local-time kickoff on CBS Sports Network. That’s 9:34 p.m. Lafayette time.
Hudspeth said the squad will move its regular Thursday practice back until late evening and then will have a late walkthrough on Albertsons Stadium’s unique blue turf Friday evening, to try to simulate the late start.
“That’s a long day at the hotel,” he said. “We have to do a great job of keeping our guys focused and prepared and rested — but not too rested where we come out lethargic.”
Dan McDonald contributed to this report.