Aug 6, 2014 8:18 PM by UL Sports Information
LAFAYETTE - The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns football team donned shoulder pads for the first time in fall practice as the team worked for over two hours on Wednesday in the Moncla Indoor Practice facility.
After a pair of practices in helmets out of the way, the Ragin' Cajuns were able to work out for the first time with light contact. Louisiana will return to practice in shells on Thursday before holding its first practice in full pads beginning Friday.
With 61 letterwinners and 17 starters returning from a 2013 team that finished 9-4 overall, captured the Sun Belt Conference title and claimed its third straight win in the New Orleans Bowl, fourth-year head coach Mark Hudspeth will field his deepest team when the Ragin' Cajuns open the season on Aug. 30 against Southern. And after the first day in shells, Hudspeth praised his team's mentality and physical approach.
"We've got a lot of depth, but you can lose it pretty quick by being careless and not playing smart," Hudspeth said. "I thought, for the most part, the guys did a nice job staying up and still trying to play physical. We don't want to risk anything this early in camp."
As temperatures crept into the upper 80's with high humidity, the Ragin' Cajuns held their first workout in the adjacent practice facility - a rarity under ideal conditions. But the Ragin' Cajuns were able to get in their work needed while getting into football shape.
"We went inside today to get out of the sun," Hudspeth said. "We're still able to get good conditioning, but we want to practice a little smarter and get quality work in. You have to get used to the heat ... that's fall camp. You have to get in great physical condition. You can run all summer long, but when you put that hat on, and those pads, it's football condition. That's different."
With Dominique Tovell, named last month to the Lombardi Watch list, locked up at one of the Ragin' Cajuns four linebacker slots, senior Jake Molbert is looking to return to a starting role after starting 15 games in his first two seasons.
Molbert, a Rayne native, started eight games as a freshman in 2011 and seven of 10 games he played in the following season before missing the final two games with an injury. After playing in all 13 games in 2013 in a reserve role, Molbert was penciled in as a starter during spring practice and has remained in that slot through the first week of fall camp.
"It's night and day," Hudspeth said of the senior. "He's worked hard and continues to get better. He's smart out there and is really going to help us this year. I'm a Jake Molbert fan. He's tough and he embodies what a Ragin' Cajuns player is. He works hard in the weight room and does the right things on and off the field."