LAFAYETTE — There won’t be any wholesale adjustments to Louisiana-Lafayette’s football team in the wake of its 34-14 loss at Arkansas in last week’s season opener.
“We know we have to continue doing what we do and stay the course,” coach Mark Hudspeth said. “We’re not going to change at the first sign of adversity.”
That being said, the Ragin’ Cajuns will make some significant alterations in the secondary and will look at more than one place-kicker heading into their road battle at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Kansas State.
At his weekly news conference, Hudspeth listed several position changes in the secondary after the Razorbacks rolled up 230 passing yards as part of a 522-yard offensive performance.
Junior Trevence Patt will move to cornerback after starting at free safety against Arkansas, while returning starter Rodney Gillis is back at free safety after seeing only limited action in the opener due to nagging injuries. Corey Trim remains at one corner, and Hudspeth said he hopes to have freshman signee Simeon Thomas available there as he awaits NCAA Clearinghouse approval.
“T-Patt’s really a natural corner,” Hudspeth said. “We moved him to safety because we felt like we had corners. He’s a tall corner that can run.”
Trim had seven tackles against Arkansas. Strong safety Sean Thomas, a two-year backup who got his first start Saturday, posted 13 tackles, including five solos. He will likely rotate with T.J. Worthy at that spot.
“With Arkansas, you have to put so many people in the box to stop the run, and we left some young guys back there and they got exposed,” Hudspeth said.
Even with those struggles, Hudspeth said three plays were the difference in the Cajuns losing for the 37th straight time against a Southeastern Conference opponent.
“We drove the field the first time we had the ball, just like we hoped, with great tempo and executed at a high level, and not only didn’t score but missed the field goal,” he said. “We got the ball at the start of the second half still in the game and went three-and-out. And even after that, we got the turnover at midfield down 13, with the chance to get right back in the game, and we turned it right back over.”
Sophomore Stephen Brauchle’s missed 27-yard field goal prompted Hudspeth to give junior Hunter Stover a chance at kicking duties this week. Stover — already a likely candidate for long-range field goals — put all three of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks Saturday.
“They’re going to start competing this week,” Hudspeth said. “If that had been a 52-yarder, we wouldn’t be opening it up, but we have to make those. We’re not benching Brauchle by any means ... but Stover’s going to get a chance.”
That chance will come against a Kansas State team that is shockingly 0-1 after falling 24-21 to FCS member and reigning national champion North Dakota State on Friday. It was the coach Bill Snyder’s first loss in a home opener since 1989.
“Obviously, it’s not the best position for us to be in,” Hudspeth said, “but we lost one, too, and our guys want just as bad to get back to work. Coach Snyder knows how to handle this. They didn’t play a bad football team.”
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