Aug 19, 2013 11:41 PM by UL Sports Information
LAFAYETTE, La. - With the final scrimmage behind them, the focus of practice changed on Monday for the Ragin' Cajuns football team as preparation for the Aug. 31 opener at Arkansas dominated the morning practice.
After spending the first two full weeks of practice installing the offensive and defensive schemes, third year head coach Mark Hudspeth changed the focus to the Razorbacks, giving the squad their first glimpse of the game plan for the opener.
"We're getting an early jump on Arkansas," Hudspeth said. "We've installed everything so now we will start to refine things and get ready for the Razorbacks.
The most noticeable part of practice that has changed has been the increased use. . . and volume. . . on the Juice Machine, the sound system that the Cajuns use during practice.
After keeping the system at a low volume for the first two weeks, allowing the instruction of the coaches to easily be heard by the players, the volume was turned way up, playing rock and roll hits from the 80's all day. The final period of the practice featured the Arkansas fight song.
"Today was Monster Jam Monday," Hudspeth said. "We turn the volume way up, especially over the last four periods, so our guys can get used to playing in a noisy stadium.
"In less than two weeks, we are going to play in front of 80,000 fans in Fayetteville. It will be a crowd that is loud and full of energy because they have a new coaching staff and new expectations," Hudspeth added.
Although the Cajuns are concentrating on Arkansas, the coaching staff was still working on finalizing the two-deep, the list of starters and backups at every position.
"Although we are pretty much set on our starters, we've still three or four positions that will be decided in the next two weeks," Hudspeth said. "We're at a point where our guys can't let up or have a bad practice, otherwise the rest of the team will pass them by.
"We are that way at linebacker. There are three or four players who are competing for playing time and that will be determined in the next two weeks," Hudspeth added.
Hudspeth noted the development of fifth-year senior Andrew Hebert, who started his Cajuns career as a linebacker but moved to tight end for part of 2012 before moving back to linebacker last spring.
"Andrew is the ultimate team guy," Hudspeth said. "He works hard and with a great mentality. He's played some linebacker before, I know he started in a win over Middle Tennessee two years ago in a game we won handedly."
With the start of the year on the horizon, Hudspeth is also aware of the pressure being placed on the Cajuns this year.
"Expectations are a good thing, especially when they are high. They could be the other way," Hudspeth said. "We've had some success over the last two years and that is why the expectations are high."