LAFAYETTE — Louisiana-Lafayette football coach Mark Hudspeth likes the idea of last Saturday’s off week giving his team a chance to rest and heal. But he’s not crazy about the change in routine, especially since his Ragin’ Cajuns have won their past two games.
Get used to it.
After Saturday’s Sun Belt Conference opener against league newcomer Texas State at Cajun Field, the Cajuns won’t play another Saturday game in October. They’ll have just one Saturday matchup between the TSU game and Nov. 16, after which they have ... another open date.
Back-to-back Tuesday night road games (on ESPN2) against league contenders Western Kentucky and Arkansas State follow Saturday’s 6 p.m. game against the surprising Bobcats. Then, after the Nov. 2 Homecoming contest against New Mexico State — their next home game after Saturday, a gap of almost a month — the Cajuns will play a Thursday night game against Troy (ESPNU).
“This is a little different routine this week,” Hudspeth said in his Monday press gathering. “But for the next six weeks, it’s not much of a routine anyway. ...
“The seven days leading up to a game will always be the same, but the weeks that you have more than seven days ... last year, we may have over-prepared our guys to the point that they didn’t have the legs on game day, and we were a tired team sometimes. We’re going to do a better job of that.”
The Cajuns used the open date to cut back to three practices last Tuesday through Thursday, and none was a long or drawn-out session. The squad got back to its regular game-week practices Sunday night.
But Hudspeth said the open date was a blessing.
“Obviously it gives us a chance to heal up some guys that have been a little beaten and banged-up,” he said. “We’ve been going hard for eight straight weeks. We also worked hard on some fundamentals that you’d like to work on every week but you just don’t have time because you’re working on game plan. And we got to work with some of the younger kids and give them some reps.”
Hudspeth quickly added that the open week provided a chance for a head start on preparations for Texas State, something he said was badly needed since the Bobcats come in with a 3-1 record and are coming off a 42-21 pummeling of Wyoming. Third-year coach Dennis Franchione’s team will be playing its first Sun Belt game Saturday.
“This is a really good football team coming to town,” he said. “It’s no surprise to me that they’re going as well as they are. Coach Franchione does a great job. ... They’re coming over here to make a statement in their first conference game, and I’ve heard they’re going to bring a lot of fans.”
Cajuns quarterback Terrance Broadway, the Sun Belt’s Offensive Player of the week after his five-touchdown performance in the 35-30 win at Akron two weeks ago, saw limited action in last week’s workouts after suffering an ankle injury against the Zips. Hudspeth said he was “about 98 percent, and by mid-week he’ll be 100 percent.”
TSU ranks third nationally in rushing defense (62.5 yards per game) and leads the Sun Belt in scoring defense (18.0 points). Conversely, TSU is last in the Sun Belt in pass defense.
“They’ve given up passing yards, but look at the teams they’ve played,” Hudspeth said. “Some of them throw it every down.
“Every player on their two-deep defensively is either a junior or a senior, they have good and big defensive backs, they’re smart with their coverages and their safeties are active in stopping the run. It’s hard to find a weakness, and they’re a running offense so their defense sees the run all the time. So we’ll have to execute really well.”