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UL linebacker Jourdan Quibodeaux (43), shown here competing against tight end Damani Burrell (83) during a fall practice drill, is looking to make even more progress on the Cajuns' defense this season. 

Sure, the offseason was rough.

Sure, there were times when fourth-year junior linebacker Jourdan Quibodeaux wondered if he’d even get to play this fall, with all the obstacles surrounding college athletics throughout the summer.

But now with UL slated to open the 2020 season at 11 a.m. Sept. 12 at No. 23 Iowa State on ESPN, Quibodeaux can’t wait to get going. For many reasons.

“We’ve been itching to get back to it,” the former Acadiana High standout said. “We haven’t had the opportunity to play anybody else yet. It was kind of up in the air for a little while, but we’re excited. We’re ready to attack the season.”

Quibodeaux's excitement gets even more specific than just getting a chance to play.

There’s his position group, the inside linebackers.

“A lot of us can play both ways — play ‘Mike’, ‘Will,’ and even guys like Kris Moncrief and A.J. Riley can even go play outside linebacker — so I feel like we have kind of the best of both worlds, as far as depth and knowing different positions,” Quibodeaux said. “As for the guys in the room ... we push each other every day, and I feel like it’s going to be special.”

Then there’s his personal progress as a player. Quibodeaux showed up as a walk-on. By last season, he played in all 14 games, both as a special-teams star and a backup linebacker.

“It feels great,” Quibodeaux said of his progress. “There’s been a lot of teammates that have been supportive. Not only with me but with the team. I’m excited about the season; I’m excited about how we’ve been playing; and I think we have a really good team.”

Quibodeaux collected 35 tackles last season, as well as a sack and a safety.

The 6-foot-1, 218-pounder isn’t the only one expecting bigger things for him in 2020 either.

“Quib is probably having one the best camps in our room,” junior linebacker Lorenzo McCaskill said. “He’s going to be tremendous this year as well.”

Returning the favor, Quibodeaux is convinced McCaskill is ready to take over the ‘Mike’ spot as the defense’s leader, stepping in for Jacques Boudreaux.

“I think he’s 100% ready,” Quibodeaux said. “He’s always been somebody that comes to work ready to work and ready to learn. I really feel like he’s ready for it. He’s assertive. He’s going to make sure the calls get heard by everybody. He’s ready.”

A big reason for his personal confidence being so high these days is his increased grasp of the defense under new defensive coordinator Patrick Toney.

“I’m way farther ahead of where I was last season,” Quibodeaux said. “A lot of it has to do with coach Toney and how he’s decided to go about this offseason. We must have gone over our entire install it feels like 40 times, and that’s not an exaggeration.

“I feel like it’s helping — not only myself, but we have incoming freshmen who already know stuff.”

They've done the work.

During all the distractions of the COVID-19 protocols or even the team’s march for social justice, Quibodeaux said he completely trusts the focus on this year’s team.

“No, I don’t think it’s affected the team in any way. I truly feel like every day we come here, it’s something that — obviously I’m partial, because it’s my teammates — I feel like every time we step on the field, no matter what has gone on ... we know it’s time to practice and know what we need to do,” he said.

“It meant that much more to us whenever we weren’t sure if we’d have a season or not. I think that shows the character of our team more than anything.”

Now Quibodeaux is ready to reap the rewards.


Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.