Posted: Aug 2, 2012 9:31 PM by UL Sports Information
The Ragin' Cajuns football team returned to the football practice field on Thursday for the first preseason practice of the year.
With the team limited to just partial uniforms until Monday (Aug. 6), second year head coach Mark Hudspeth elected to split the team into two groups for the day. The majority of the veterans, those listed as either starters or key reserves, were on Cajun Field starting at 8:55 a.m. for a practice that ran almost 150 minutes. At the same time, the rest of the team, including all of the newcomers, were in the weight room for a work out with strength coach Rusty Witt.
The groups traded places in the afternoon with the newcomers being on the field with the veterans spending time in the weight room.
For the veterans, the time spent on field was business as usual while the newcomers were taught the do's and don'ts of Ragin' Cajuns football.
"The morning session with the veterans was a little sloppy," Hudspeth said. "I know they worked hard all summer, but they were sucking wind at times. We'll work through this and get everybody in game shape.
"I am more concerned with our ability to take care of the football. That will be a point of emphasis this year. To be successful, we can't turn the ball over because we struggled to win when we turned the ball over last year."
Asked whether the Cajuns are miles ahead of where they were last year at this time, Hudspeth commented. "Miles ahead? We sure hope so, but in reality, this is just day one and we have a long way to go. I am certain that we will get there."
The afternoon session featured a different tone and speed. After a very up-tempo morning workout, the newcomer session was more about teaching the younger players about how practices were run, getting them ready for later in the weekend when all 105 players are on the field at the same time.
"We had a pretty good tempo going in the morning because the veterans are used to how we practice," Hudspeth said. "The afternoon session was a culture shock for the younger players. They weren't used to either the intensity or the pace that we expect and it showed."
Despite the issues that Hudspeth had with the afternoon practice, he still saw some good things.
"It didn't take too long to figure out that the incoming class of players is very talented and that a couple of them have the ability to help us this year," Hudspeth said. "I am happy with the depth that we have among the returners so we came into camp in a position where we didn't need any of the freshmen to step in and play right away, but if they are ready and can help us, then I will put them on the field."
Hudspeth singled out senior cornerback Melvin White for standing out in the morning session while the trio of sophomore Quendarius Griffin and freshmen Delvin Jones and Tyren Alexander for their effort in the afternoon.
"Melvin came to practice ready to go and he had a big first practice," Hudspeth said. "He is in great shape and has a great mental approach. He wants to be the best defensive back in the Sun Belt."
The Cajuns will do a repeat performance on Friday as the camp schedule for day two is identical to the first. "The only thing that will change is that our guys will be one day better and the young players will have a better idea of what we expect," Hudspeth said.
LAGNIAPPE: Word came early in the morning that junior Daryl Surgent was selected as one of 49 players nationally, and the only Sun Belt athlete, named to the watch list for the 2012 Paul Hornung Award, which is presented annually by the Louisville Sports Commission to the most versatile player in major college football. . . "Daryl is perfectly suited for this award because he can help us to win in so many ways. The big punt return touchdown in the New Orleans Bowl is an example of how he is more than just a receiver," Hudspeth said. . . with an air temperature approaching the mid 90's and a heat index that reached 105 degrees, Hudspeth noted that preseason practice began under familiar conditions. . . "The first half hour or so of practice was fine, but then the sun came out and it hit me that preseason camp is here," Hudspeth said. . . the afternoon session opened with a heat index of 109 but cloudy skies helped to lower it to under 100 for the last 90 minutes. . . the heat didn't affect second year Marquase Lovings, who wore a long sleeve sweatshirt throughout both practices. . . "I have been doing this for years," Lovings said. "I like to show the players that the heat isn't an issue and the weight loss is an added bonus."