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Football: How linebacker Ferrod Gardner’s ankle injury impacts UL football

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Sept. 7, 2021

UL linebacker Ferrod Gardner, injured Saturday at Texas, could return sooner than originally anticipated, coach Billy Napier said Monday.

But it remains to be seen if Gardner, the starting Will inside linebacker, will be ready for UL’s home opener Saturday (6 p.m., ESPN3) against Nicholls.

The seventh-year senior injured his right ankle in the first half of the season-opening 38-18 loss to the Longhorns.

He was taken to the locker room in a cart, and was on crutches later Saturday.

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“It turns out that it’s not a high ankle (sprain), which is really a positive,” Napier said. “I think his turnaround will be much quicker than expected there.

“He was walking (Sunday). … That’s a good thing.”

Status uncertain

Napier said he wouldn’t know Gardner’s status for Saturday until after practices Tuesday and Wednesday. Five nights after facing Nicholls, UL plays Ohio of the MAC at Cajun Field.

“I think a lot of it is to-be-determined,” Napier said.

“Ferrod is an experienced player, so I think his participation in practice can be a little bit different. But, in general, we’re going to do what’s best for Ferrod in terms of is ‘Is he is confident, is he healthy, is he able to do his best?’ But I do think he’s in a little bit better place (Monday) than we expected.”

The Cajuns missed the presence of Gardner, UL’s second-leading tackler last season, in the second half against Texas, which scored 24 of its 38 points after the break.

With Gardner out, backup inside linebackers Jourdan Quibodeaux and Kris Moncrief rotated in more frequently with starting Mike ’backer Lorenzo McCaskill.

McCaskill, UL’s leading tackler last year, finished with five total stops Saturday, leading the position group. That’s down from the 7.54 per game he averaged in 2020. Quibodeaux finished with four tackles and Moncrief three.

“All those guys have played games in the past, and they did some good things,” Napier said. “There was production. There were some things we can do better there. But, overall, I have a lot of confidence in the group.”