Mar 11, 2014 11:37 AM by UL Sports Information
LAFAYETTE - Coming off its third consecutive nine-win season, culminated by a win in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns will begin preparation for the 2014 season on Tuesday when it opens spring drills.
The Ragin' Cajuns, who finished 9-4 last season, look to build off a Sun Belt Conference championship as they will hold 15 practices that will conclude with the annual Spring Game on April 12 at Cajun Field. The Cajuns will hold afternoon workouts on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with the team's annual Junior Day slated for March 22.
"We're really excited to kick off the start of the 2014 spring practice," fourth-year head coach Mark Hudspeth said. "We've had a great last few weeks of studying what we did in the fall and find some answers to improve in certain areas and be more efficient, more productive and get the most out of the team that we have."
With a veteran-laced team returning, led by 17 starters, Hudspeth will head into spring practice with the deepest team in his four-year tenure.
"This is our fourth spring, and for the most part, this is our football team," Hudspeth said. "We've got the deepest team that we've ever had heading into spring practice. We have a lot of guys returning that have played in a lot of college football games. We've got a lot of depth. We still have some questions that need to be answered, but this is the most returning (players) and the most depth that we've gone into spring practice with."
The two biggest areas of emphasis for the Cajuns will be finding replacements for center Andre Huval and middle linebacker Justin Anderson. Terry Johnson, who started all 13 games last season at left guard for the Ragin' Cajuns, will move to center with transfer Trey Granier, plus returning letterwinners Trae Johnson, Tyren Alexander and Kevin Fouquier among a group looking to replace Anderson on defense.
"We've got to have, not only a very good player, that's what Justin Anderson was," said Hudspeth, "but he was also the quarterback (on defense) that could get everybody lined up and get you in the right calls and make the right checks. And so, you've not only have to be a very talented player, but you have to be the guy to handle the responsibility of making all of the strength calls."
The Cajuns will also look to replace the school's all-time leader in kick returns - Darryl Surgent - along with long snapper John Broussard, who opted to forgo his final season to attend Physical Therapy school.
"Anytime you lose your deep snapper, that is always a concern, because when you have a really good one, its makes life really easy," Hudspeth said. "In the kick return game, we have a lot of candidates, I think, are very good and they will all be able to compete. We'll see where we land there in a few weeks."
Louisiana will open its 2014 season on Aug. 30 when its plays host to Southern University in the 14th annual Herbert Heymann Classic. The Ragin' Cajuns will host Louisiana Tech (Sept. 6) in non-conference play before hosting Sun Belt Conference foes Georgia State (Oct. 4), Arkansas State (Oct. 21), South Alabama (Nov. 1) and newcomer Appalachian State (Nov. 22).