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Cajun defenders Andre Landry (97), shown here celebrating a tackle in last year's win over South Alabama, will get another opportunity to make plays Saturday against Troy due to the injury to Zi'Yon Hill.

With the loss of redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Zi’Yon Hill for Saturday’s key Sun Belt contest against Troy, a larger burden falls on a pair of sophomore colleagues in Masry Mapieu and Andre Landry of Acadiana High.

The 6-foot-4, 273-pound Mapieu, who has played in eight games this season, will get the start while Landry is listed as his backup.

“The thing I would compliment Masry about is I thought he had a really good offseason,” UL coach Billy Napier said. “He did what we asked him to do. He leaned up. He really improved his composition. He’s stronger — he’s 285 pounds — and much more agile and much more effective as a player. He’s more consistent, dependable, makes fewer errors.

“His techniques have improved. And you’re right, he’s got a great opportunity. The team is counting on him. We’re going to need him to play well down the stretch.”

With the defensive line being a constant rotation, Landry is expected to get plenty of playing time Saturday.

“Landry here in the last couple of weeks is a guy who has gotten more snaps and more opportunities due to the injuries that we’ve had,” Napier said. “Certainly all of these guys are going to play.

“He was on the scout team for quite a bit of time and did a really good job. He was kind of the next man up. We committed some reps to him last week. We traveled with us last week and he got a few snaps in the game. And he’s had a good week of practice this week.”

Moncrief back

Napier said sophomore linebacker Kris Moncrief won’t have an ill-effects of being ejected in the first half of last Saturday’s 37-27 win over South Alabama for targeting.

Napier said film showed it was a good call and he fully supports the rule.

“I haven’t been around too many,” Napier said. “I think it’s a great rule and I think it was the right call. We try to educate our players with the quarterback, they’re going to call it a little bit different. We coached it in practice today a couple of times. You’ve got to lower the target and try to put your head to the side.

“Certainly, the blind side block has showed up in a lot of games this year. That’s another new rule that I think is effective. I think anything that improves the safety of the game and can keep our game alive and keep it relevant, I think is a good thing.”

Kicking game special

More than any game all season, the special teams shined the brightest in last Saturday’s road win over South Alabama.

In addition to Stevie Artigue making three field goals, there was a 60-yard kickoff return, a 72-yard punt return, a key punt inside the 10 late and proper technique on a late onside kick.

“Then we have a core group of players that have done a nice job. You’ve got to give your tip of the hat to (special teams coach) Matt Powledge,” Napier said. “I think he’s outstanding, he’s a great leader, I think he’s terrific teacher, I basically meet with him once a week with the staff, to talk about the plan and the matchups, how we kind of see the game going, and then it’s his show.

“He does a great job scripting, planning practice, all the meetings, all the walk-throughs, and they’re ready to play and they play really hard. You put that film on, it’s some of the best effort on our team.”

Injury update

Napier suggested Wednesday that cornerbacks Michael Jacquet and Kamar Greenhouse would both be available for Saturday’s game against the pass-happy Troy Trojans.

The bad news, however, is defensive tackle Zi’Yon Hill and right tackle Robert Hunt haven’t practiced this week and won’t likely play Saturday.

In other injury news, reserve linebackers Alonzo Brown and Damani Burrell were added to the list. Burrell is out for the season and the staff is waiting for news on Brown’s long-term availability.

Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.