LAFAYETTE — A day after a surprise walk-through, the Louisiana-Lafayette football team ratcheted the intensity back up Thursday with a full-pads workout in the squad's indoor facility.
As preseason camp rolls on and coach Mark Hudspeth preps his squad for its first major scrimmage Saturday, his focus is on keeping the team healthy — and finding a pecking order at one particular position group.
“I thought they responded well, moved around like I was hoping they would after having a little bit of time off,” Hudspeth said. “Overall good day. Some of the guys that have been sort of banged up a little bit got back today and looked pretty good.”
That said, there is still plenty of work to do.
“We've got to come back tomorrow and sort of put the finishing touches on this week’s installation and then get ready for a big scrimmage on Saturday,” Hudspeth said.
Saturday’s scrimmage will be key for a number of players, but Hudspeth is hoping to see some players separate themselves at the linebacker spots. Senior T.J. Posey has secured a starting role, but much of the rest remains undecided.
“I challenged those guys today," Hudspeth said. "They've got to start stepping up a little bit at that position. I have not seen the toughness that I want to see. I have not seen guys being in the right gaps. ... Nobody had stepped up yet and said, 'I want to be that guy.' I think we're close to knowing who the (starters) are going to be, but we've got to develop some depth.”
Hudspeth noted redshirt freshman Tanner Holmes has been making plays in practice. Sophomores Jacques Boudreaux and Terik Miller are among the players vying to join Posey and Holmes in replacing former Cajuns Otha Peters and Tre'maine Lightfoot.
Put it on the line
One position group where Hudspeth and defensive coordinator Mike Lucas aren’t worried about finding starters is defensive line. The main concern is making sure that group stays healthy.
“We've got depth, but some of the guys right now are getting a little nicked up," Hudspeth said. "They're out there fighting through it, because the depth that we have is not quite out there right now. So they're having to go a few more reps than what you would like, and we're trying to hold Taboris Lee a little bit. When you hold him, everybody else is playing a little bit more, and you get that ripple effect with nagging injuries and guys getting banged up from going so many snaps.”
Since he's his own special teams coordinator, Hudspeth clearly understands the importance of that phase of the game. Beyond the players getting a handle on the scheme, though, picking the right players for the duties is pivotal to preseason camp.
“Just like offense, you want that continuity," he said. "Those guys work together so much and they learn to work together and they get used to one another. ... You want your unit to stay together as much as possible without having to piece it together each week.”
That emphasis on continuity means Hudspeth isn't afraid to play a freshman on special teams, instead of giving him a redshirt.
“If he played on all special teams but played a backup role at safety, playing on special teams would far outweigh him playing a few snaps at safety," Hudspeth said. "Some of those guys that are the second-team safety, second-team linebackers, second-team outside 'backers or corners, that are really close to playing on the field, you can get a lot of great experience on special teams.”