Jul 31, 2012 11:58 PM by UL Sports Information
The 2012 football season will officially get underway on Wednesday (Aug. 1) when second year UL head coach Mark Hudspeth welcomes 105 student-athletes back to campus for the start of preseason practice.
After checking into the dormitories in the morning, the annual team photo will be taken in the afternoon at Cajun Field and the group will meet as a team in the evening. The first preseason practice is slated to begin at 8:55 a.m. on Wednesday.
"It will be good to get back out on the grass and continue the process of getting ready for Lamar on Sept. 1," Hudspeth said. "Our players have worked hard all summer to get ready for this season and they understand what we are expecting from them this year.
"Because we worked hard last year and played as a team, we were able to accomplish a lot. That season was very gratifying, but it is over now and we are focused on even greater accomplishments ahead. As well as we played last year, we missed out on our ultimate goal of being Sun Belt champions. We need to rectify that this fall," Hudspeth added.
The Cajuns return 15 starters and 39 lettermen from the 2011 that went 9-4 to tie a school record for wins. UL made its first bowl appearance since 1970, defeating San Diego State, 32-30, in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
Add to the mix the return to the field of 19 players who redshirted last season and the addition of another strong recruiting class, and the 2012 Ragin' Cajuns should feature a deeper and more talented playing rotation.
The strength of the Cajuns will come on offense where nine starters from the squad that compiled more than 5,000 yards of total offense. The returners include 2011 Louisiana Offensive Player of the Year quarterback Blaine Gautier, running back Alonzo Harris, the reigning Sun Belt Freshman of the Year. In addition, four offensive line starters return along with seven receivers who combined to catch almost 200 passes for 2,600 yards, including first team All-Sun Belt choice Javone Lawson (63 catches, 1,092 yards).
Although the defense will feature seven new starters this fall, the overall depth and athleticism of the unit has improved, leaving the coaching staff confident coming out of spring drills.
Cornerbacks Melvin White (64 tackles) and Jemarlous Moten (80 tackles) and linebackers Le'Marcus Gibson (45 tackles) and Jake Molbert (65 tackles) return as starters to form the nucleus of the defense.
Special teams were a strength in 2011 and they should be even stronger this year as every specialist returns, including senior Brett Baer, a second team All-Sun Belt pick last fall as both a punter and kicker.
The Ragin' Cajuns open the 2012 season at home against Lamar at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1.
Tickets are available by visiting the Ragin' Cajuns Ticket Central online at RaginCajuns.com or by calling (337) 851-2011. Season ticket prices start at just $96 with a special Family 5 Pak featuring lower bowl seating being available for $330.
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