Posted: Mar 11, 2013 9:37 PM by UL Sports Information
It had been 79 days since the Ragin' Cajuns football team had been on the field together, but it didn't take long for third-year Louisiana head football coach Mark Hudspeth to remind the 97 football players who were taking part in the first of 15 spring practices on Monday afternoon in the Leon Moncla Indoor Practice Facility.
Coming off back-to-back 9-4 seasons that saw the Ragin' Cajuns tie the school record for wins in a season and win back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history, optimism is high going into spring practice for the possibility of another successful fall.
Just three minutes into the first drill, Hudspeth stopped the squad and emphatically made a point to the team.
"We are the University of Louisiana and we haven't won a thing yet," Hudspeth yelled.
"How many games we are going to win this year is determined by how hard we practice this spring and summer," Hudspeth added.
Earlier in the day, Hudspeth, along with offensive coordinator Jay Johnson and defensive coordinator James Willis, addressed the media to update them on the state of the Cajuns.
Hudspeth spoke of several position battles on the squad, especially in the secondary where three of the four starters from last year are gone.
The Cajuns also have a pair of openings on the offensive and defensive line and at receiver, but Hudspeth is optimistic that the replacements are going to emerge during spring drills.
Hudspeth opened the first practice with a new twist. Just like the Oklahoma Tackling drill that he used a year ago to increase the intensity at the start of the practice, he created a variation of his "Don't let go of the rope" theme to inspire the Cajuns.
Hudspeth introduced a one-on-one tug of war drill to the practice with one member of the offense squaring off vs. the defense. Two players and one rope with the winner being the one who made his opponent let go first.
The winner proved to be the defense, winning two of the three bouts, in what will certainly be a staple drill of the spring practices.
Prior to the entire team taking the field following positions, the special teams were the first on the field and it was the first time to see newcomers Stephen Brauchle and Daniel Cadona in action.
Cadona, a junior punter from Darwin, which is in the Northern Territory of Australia, boomed a couple of pre-practice punts that were stopped by the rafters of the indoor facility.
"Cadona can really boom those kicks. He is going to be a good one," Hudspeth said after the practice.
But the battle for the field goal job is one that could go until late August until it is decided with returners Carlos Alvarez and Hunter Stover also being in the mix.
"Those three are really competing," Hudspeth said. "I don't think anybody can take the kickoff chores away from Stover, because not only does he do a great job, if somebody does return one he goes and makes the tackle."
"The rest of the competition has just started," Hudspeth added.
Hudspeth was happy with the way the first practice went.
"I thought we had some good energy today," Hudspeth said. "It started with the staff being excited to get back on the field.
"Our leadership was good today, which is good because we lost our vocal leaders like Le'Marcus Gibson to graduation and we need a new group to step into the openings.
"We threw a lot at these guys and they responded. We are going to use the first four or five practices to install the offense and the defense. Then we will go back over everything and fine tune things," Hudspeth added.
The Cajuns will use Tuesday to review the films and hit the weight room before getting back on the field on Wednesday afternoon for the second spring practice.