LAFAYETTE - No Ladarius Green? No problem.
That’s the way it’s been at the tight end position during the first two games this season for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Adequately replacing an injured Green - a senior and Mackey Watch List member for two straight years - have been sophomores Ian Thompson and Jacob Maxwell.
Thompson and Maxwell should again receive abundant playing time today when ULL (1-1) hosts Nicholls State (1-1) in a 6 p.m. season home opener at Cajun Field.
The contest is expected to draw a huge crowd, with Nicholls State promoting numerous pregame tailgating parties on its official athletic website this week and first-year ULL coach Mark Hudspeth urging spectators to “bring along someone” and pack 30,000-seat Cajun Field.
Hudpseth was a Nicholls State wide receiver and tight ends coach in 1994-95. Also serving as assistants on the Nicholls staff at the same time are current ULL offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue, safeties coach Tim Rebowe and cornerbacks coach Dave Saunders.
Rodrigue also played at Nicholls, while Rebowe coached there for six seasons.
Thompson and Maxwell have a combined four receptions for 53 yards after Green injured a shoulder during the first half of the Cajuns’ 61-34 loss at Oklahoma State Sept. 3.
Hudspeth said Green will play if healthy against Nicholls. If not, Thompson and Maxwell will continue to play along with true freshman Larry Pettis.
ULL’s tight end position is loaded with talent, but having Green on the field makes a difference.
“We need to win a game, so if everything’s all right with him, we’re going to play (Green). We’re going to need all the bullets we can get against Nicholls, because they’re coming in here sky high,” Hudspeth said.
Thompson said he and Maxwell have no illusions about the role they are playing at present.
“(Green) is a great player and we just kind of model ourselves after him. Last year when he was injured (for three games), we filled in then and that kind of helped us transition into this year,” Thompson said. “We were both ready for it due to our prior experience.”
Maxwell said he and Thompson have easily adapted to running the routes and performing the blocking assignments normally reserved for Green, who has 99 career receptions for 1,594 yards.
“Our confidence level right now is through the roof. Last year Ian and I were just young guys. All the tight ends on this team have pretty good run blocking and receiving skills,” Maxwell said.
Hudspeth said the Cajuns’ passing game is probably more vertical with Green in the game.
“With (Thompson and Maxwell), they are a little more lateral. However they are very talented and because of that, they can run and pass protect. You also don’t have to take them off the field in order to put another receiver in the game,” Hudspeth said.
Hudspeth said Green’s value is demonstrated even when the receiver is not a primary passing target.
“Everyone has to be aware of where he is, even if it’s in a kind of decoy situation,” he said.
The Cajuns and Nicholls both played Mid-American Conference teams last week. ULL ended a nine-game, nonconference road drought with a 20-12 victory at Kent State.
Nicholls fell at Western Michigan, 38-7.
Junior LaQuintin Caston, who played at Scotlandville High School, is expected the start once again at quarterback for the Colonels.
Caston is also a rushing threat. In his Nicholls career, Caston has rushed for 976 yards. Before the Western Michigan game, Caston had three consecutive games rushing for 100 or more yards.
Scheduled to start at tight end for Nicholls is redshirt freshman Nick Scelfo, who played at St. Michael in Baton Rouge. Scelfo has three catches for 49 yards and a touchdown.
The Colonels have several Baton Rouge-area players who are listed as probable starters for the ULL game.
In addition to Caston and Scelfo, wide receiver Joshua Warren is listed as being from Baton Rouge. Warren come to the Colonels from Belhaven College.
Also from Baton Rouge are redshirt freshman linebacker Ryan Bruno, also from St. Michael and sophomore wide receiver Brad Nelson, who played at Catholic High.
Hudspeth said he’s not sure who will start against Nicholls at quarterback. Junior Blaine Gautier started against OSU, while senior Chris Masson, a two-year starter, was the starter against Kent State.