Cajuns find right tempo in scrimmage

Advocate Photo by Brad Kemp Running back Torey Pierce (25) tries to run away from defender Jacob Molbert (59) during the Ffrst fall scrimmage for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette at Cajun Field in Lafayette, La., Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014.
Advocate Photo by Brad Kemp Running back Torey Pierce (25) tries to run away from defender Jacob Molbert (59) during the Ffrst fall scrimmage for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette at Cajun Field in Lafayette, La., Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014.

Mark Hudspeth stressed the time factor to his Louisiana-Lafayette football team right after Saturday’s first full-scale scrimmage of fall camp.

The 98-play scrimmage had a 6 p.m. start under the Cajun Field lights, the same time the Ragin’ Cajuns will welcome Southern in three weeks for the 2014 season opener.

“I told the guys that right now we’d be heading into the fourth quarter,” Hudspeth said. “It was exciting to be in the stadium tonight. Any time you get your first scrimmage in the stadium under the lights, it’s always good. I was pretty pleased, mostly because we came out injury free.”

The potential for injury, something the Cajuns have avoided in the first week of fall drills, limited returning quarterback and preseason Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year Terrance Broadway. The senior from Baton Rouge-Capitol took only 16 snaps with the first unit, with backup Brooks Haack running half the series with the No. 1 group and all the series with the No. 2 offense.

“We struggled all afternoon on how many plays to give Terrance. I voted for none,” Hudspeth said. “He’s got to get out there and sharpen his blade a little bit. He’s played in a lot of games ... you have to figure is the risk worth the reward. We felt like we got him just enough, get him a little more next week and he’ll be ready.”

Broadway finished 5-for-8 with one interception, with senior cornerback Corey Trim getting an interception on the first play from scrimmage. Haack, a sophomore from Katy, Texas, who started last year’s regular-season finale after Broadway suffered a broken arm, drew praise from Hudspeth for his performance.

“I thought he threw the ball really well,” Hudspeth said. “What I liked is I saw him push up in the pocket, buy a little bit of time and find the open receiver. That showed a lot of poise that he didn’t demonstrate early last year when he first got in the game, and rightfully so since that was his first time playing.”

Haack was 8-of-15 passing including a 6-yard touchdown pass to junior college wide receiver C. J. Bates, who finished with four receptions. Hudspeth said the native of Louisville, Mississippi — Hudspeth’s hometown — has worked his way into playing time.

“He’s really coming on strong,” Hudspeth said. “He’s really going to help us. If he keeps that up, he’s going to be in the rotation and we won’t have any drop-off.”

Hudspeth also had praise for the Cajuns defensive line.

“They’re hard to move,” he said. “They’re really effective. When our starting D-line was in, and they weren’t in very much, they make it really difficult.”

About the only area Hudspeth showed disappointment in was the No. 3 offense, which suffered three turnovers despite an impressive performance from Baton Rouge-Christian Life sophomore Jerrell Richardson. Richardson had a 30-yard burst that set up his own 10-yard touchdown run.

“They’re going to learn a lesson ... you cannot turn the ball over and ever step on the field here,” Hudspeth said. “We have to get those guys understanding how to take care of the football and not just tell them to take care of it.”

Getting their kicks

Senior kicker Hunter Stover made all five of his field-goal attempts from 32, 31, 31, 38 and 45 yards during the session while junior Stephen Brauchle was successful from 38 and 45.

“Right now it’s Stover’s job,” Hudspeth said. “But I told Stephen it wasn’t over and to go in there and beat him out. Stover kicked the ball well, he didn’t get a lot of kicks but made the ones he kicked.”

Stover, who made his only collegiate attempt during last year’s R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, also kicked off 6 yards into the end zone to start the scrimmage and made the tackle on the return — something he did 12 times last season.

Earning a stripe

Junior college center Eddie Gordon became the first Cajun newcomer to “earn his stripe” following the scrimmage.

All of UL-Lafayette’s newcomers have a black stripe on their helmet in contrast to the returnees’ white stripe.

The only way the new players can earn a white stripe is upon recommendation of their designated “big brother” on the team.

Senior guard Terry Johnson is Gordon’s “big brother” and Hudspeth made that announcement after practice.

“Now he’s officially part of the team,” Hudspeth said. “(Gordon) is a guy that’s worked awfully hard since he’s gotten here, been responsible, does all the extras and understands what it takes.”

Upcoming

The Cajuns will not practice Sunday but will have meetings, a weight session and a walk-through after looking at the film from Saturday’s scrimmage. Monday has two practices in shells at 8:30 a.m. and helmets and shorts at 4:30 p.m.

LSU transfer coming in

Former LSU wide receiver and defensive back Kavahra Holmes announced on Twitter that he decided to transfer to UL-Lafayette.

“Just got great news its finally official!! In team UL NOW,” Holmes tweeted from his account, @kavahraholmes, late Saturday night. He added in a later message on the social media website that he was planning to play football and run track with the Cajuns.

Holmes played in one contest in his two years at LSU before being suspended indefinitely after receiving a misdemeanor summons for simple battery in October. He announced, also on Twitter, that he was seeking a transfer in late March.

Holmes was a three-star recruit coming out of Breaux Bridge High School, where he was also a nationally ranked track athlete in the 400-meter dash. He redshirted his true freshman season, and will likely have to sit out the 2014 campaign because of transfer rules.

Quick read

Three observations from Saturday’s scrimmage.

1 Redshirt freshman Grant Horst took most of the snaps with the No. 1 offense, but junior college transfer Eddie Gordon also worked with that unit while quarterback Brooks Haack was with the first team. Coach Mark Hudspeth, who hoped to have a decision at center this weekend, said he’d watch the film first.

2 Sophomore running back Elijah McGuire had one electrifying punt return during one special-teams session. “We’ve got a chance to have one of the premier returners in the nation back there,” Hudspeth said. “We’re putting our best 11 on punt returns since if you give this guy an inch, he’ll take a mile.”

3 Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Sherard Johnson blew up at least one running play. Of course, he’s easy to spot at 6-foot-8 and 383 pounds. “I’m going to be his manager when he gets through here and we’re going to the WWE,” Hudspeth said after the scrimmage. “He’s going to be the New Big Show.”