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Football: What we learned in second week of preseason practice for Louisiana Ragin Cajuns football

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, August 21, 2021

Click here for the photo gallery of UL preseason football.

The UL football team has completed two weeks of preseason practice since opening Aug. 6.

Here’s what we know:

Contingency plan critical

A hot geopolitical topic has been contingency plans, or lack thereof. It is big for No. 23 UL’s offensive line too.

As experienced as the Ragin’ Cajuns are – they return all five starters – it’s a necessary, and good, thing.

Coach Billy Napier said it’s on position coaches “to anticipate if a player’s out” and to “uncover … the best combination of five.”

So returning right-side tackle starter Max Mitchell has been working a bit on the left side, just in case. That’s no knock on returning starter Carlos Rubio, who’s been working at left tackle.

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“Rubio’s had a good camp,” Napier said.

“Carlos played really well there at the end of the year last year, and he’s carried that momentum in the offseason and training camp.”

Starting left guard Ken Marks has been getting some reps at left tackle too, a luxury the Cajuns have because they’re high on Marks’ backup Tyler Brown, who also can play tackle.

Stroll down memory lane

Working Mitchell some at left tackle also has allowed usual starting right guard O’Cyrus Torrence to work a little at right tackle, again just in case.

“It’s a little different from guard,” the St. Helena Central product said, “but I played it in high school, so it was kind of like going back to my old love.

“It’s a lot different for the stance, but when I got a few reps in it I just got back to the natural feeling. … I like it. I ain’t gonna lie to you.”

That’s not a bad thing either.

It makes Torrence, a bona fide NFL prospect, more versatile, and as a bonus there’s nothing like a stroll down memory lane.

UL building line depth too

Shuffling offensive line starters hasn’t been the only camp task. Building depth also has been prioritized.

“I am pleased with the progress of some of these young tackles,” Napier said, mentioning Jax Harrington, who’s played quite a bit at right tackle, along with Nathan Thomas, King McGowen and George Jackson.

“We need somebody in that group of players to really show … they’re dependable and accountable, and they have the discipline to execute and do their job.”

McGowen is out after having undisclosed arthroscopic surgery.

That makes it especially interesting to see if freshman Jackson, a one-time Florida commit, is really ready.

Eyes on Mason Narcisse

It will be interesting to learn how backup defensive lineman Mason Narcisse  did in the second closed scrimmage.

Napier said the second-year freshman “had some extra efforts plays … that impressed me” in the first scrimmage.

“He’s certainly been a guy that flashes – is a capable player that can be different for us,” Napier said. “But … he’s still a young player. It’s about the consistency, right? He can be great one play and then look very average the next play.”

Oh, snap

Arguably the most-important but least-scrutinized battle is the one at deep snapper.

Paul Boudreaux was quietly brilliant for an overwhelming majority of his career, but all it took to put a cruel national spotlight on him was one lousy December day at Appalachian State last season.

With Boudreaux done, transfers Bobby Hill and Hunter Sims are vying for the job.

Both (have done) a really nice job so far,” Napier said.

Sims has played all of three games Copiah-Lincoln Community College. Hill’s merely played a combined 30 games at East Carolina, Nevada and Tulsa since 2016. And he redshirted at Georgia.

Advantage Hill, if experience is all that matters.