Cajuns turn the intensity up as opener approaches

Visitors to Wednesday afternoon's Louisiana football practice could easily see that the Cajuns are ready for the 2013 season to start.

With 10 days to go before the Ragin' Cajuns open at Arkansas, the players are tired of practicing against each other and are ready for a live opponent.

"This afternoon's practice was far and away the most intense practice that I have been involved with in a very long time," third-year head coach Mark Hudspeth said. "The guys are anxious to get going. They are ready to move forward."

After a business-like practice in the morning, the Cajuns met late in the afternoon for their final two-a-day session of the year.

And several periods into the second practice, Hudspeth had the Cajuns start it over.

"I have only done this a couple of times since I came to Louisiana, but I blew the whistle and had them go back to period one," Hudspeth said.

"The guys were so intense that it was almost out of hand. They were ready to go to blows so we stopped and gained our composure. When we started up again, it was intense and focused.

"I think they are legitimately tired of practicing against each other. They are ready to turn the corner and move ahead. I loved the effort and attitude that they had.

"Some of the guys were playing at a level that we hadn't seen before," Hudspeth said. "Going forward, I am going to expect that from each and every one of them every time they step on the field."

Hudspeth singled out redshirt freshman defensive lineman Blain Winston as one of the players who elevated his play.

"Blain was a different player today," Hudspeth said. "If he is able to maintain that level as we move forward this year, then he will be able to help this team."

Hudspeth announced after practice that freshmen Elijah McGuire and Nick Byrne have been added to the team's leadership council for the year. The council, which meets with Coach Hudspeth bi-weekly to talk about the team, is the voice of the players to the coaching staff.

"This is a big honor for Elijah and Nick," Hudspeth said. "Two players from each class make up the leadership council so eight guys are speaking for all 105."

Redshirt freshmen Karmichael Dunbar and Lance Pace are the football team's representatives this year on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC). SAAC is a group formed of student-athletes that meets with the athletic department and faculty to provide information, insight and communication involving student athlete welfare.

The Thursday schedule for the Cajuns was changed earlier in the week to allow a handful of newcomers to attend orientation on campus. The change has the players meeting and lifting weights in the morning, followed by a full practice later in the afternoon. It will be the final practice of the preseason camp, leaving only a walk through on Friday before the Cajuns take a short break over the weekend.