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Football: Geraci wins UL's No. 1 punting job, backup Bird exits

In the same breath Saturday, UL coach Mark Hudspeth said Cincinnati graduate-transfer Sam Geraci has won the team’s starting punting job and backup punter/reserve kicker Aaron Bird “has chosen to leave the program.”

Bird, also UL’s backup holder behind Geraci, becomes the third Cajun punter to leave the team since the end of last season.

The product of Westgate High in New Iberia kicked in a couple games for UL in 2015, going 2-of-2 on field goals and making four extra points.

His exit was related to playing time, Hudspeth suggested when asked.

“Bird’s been here a long time,” the Cajun coach said after Saturday’s preseason camp-ending scrimmage, “and he’s been a big part of our program.

“I’m obviously disappointed. I just think he’s got too many (class) hours — he’s trying to graduate in December — and I just think he wanted to focus on his academics.”

UL’s starting punter the last two seasons, Steven Coutts, graduated early last December and has joined Cal of the Pac-12 as a grad transfer.

Harry McCollum joined the Cajuns for spring practice as a grad transfer from Georgetown, but left shortly after Geraci — a three-year starter at Cincinnati — arrived in time for camp.

With Bird gone too, Hudspeth said freshman walk-on Hayden Yezak is now UL’s backup punter and backup kicker Calvin Linden also will punt.

Linden and starting kicker Stevie Artigue both were 1-for-1 on field goals in Saturday’s scrimmage.

Also Saturday:

►No. 1 quarterback Jordan Davis was 10-of-15 for 182 yards including a touchdown pass to Keenan Barnes;

►No. 2 QB Andre Nunez directed a 98-yard scoring drive and finished 6-of-10 for 72 yards;

►running backs Trey Ragas, Jordan Wright, Raymond Calais and Elijah Mitchell had one rushing TD each;

►the Cajuns had tackles-for-loss by Kamar Greenhouse, Mustafa Mitchell and Julius Perkins (all sacks), along with newly signed juco-transfer linebacker Justin Middleton; and

►linebacker Julius Perkins and defensive back Bralen Trahan both forced fumbles, with recoveries by Trahan and Corey Turner.

Related: UL running back Hoggins loses teeth, breaks jaw in cellphone fall

Several statistics from the scrimmage were not released, including individual rushing and receiving totals.

“I thought our quarterbacks (Davis and Nunez) came to play,” said Hudspeth, who also credited Wildcat QB Dion Ray for being effective running and reserve QB Jake Arceneaux for how he moved the offense. “I didn’t think our running backs came out ready to play early.

“I thought (Mitchell and Ragas) were the most-impressive. I thought (Wright), after (a fumble), came back and ran strong. But we’ve got to start faster at the running back position.”

UL is seeking to replace running back Elijah McGuire, now with the New York Jets.

Related: Why UL lists Ray next to Davis as UL No. 1

LAGNIAPPE: Starting receiver Michael Jacquet (bruised foot) didn’t scrimmage. … Tanner Holmes, candidate to start at inside linebacker, didn’t scrimmage because of a virus that’s caused him to miss a couple practices. … Starting center Cole Prudhomme, starting tackle D’Aquin Withrow and starting tight end Raynard Ford did not scrimmage Saturday, all because of hamstring issues. … With Prudhomme out, juco-transfer Kordell Brewster worked with the starters and Lafayette High-product freshman walk-on David Hudson worked with the backups. … With Withrow out, and also because of a toe injury that hard for him to push off on the right side, projected starting right tackle Grant Horst has been working lately at left tackle and would-be starting guard Robert Hunt worked at right tackle next to right guard Kevin Dotson in Saturday’s scrimmage. … Mustafa Mitchell is back at backup Buck defensive end/outside linebacker after a short stint at inside linebacker, Hudspeth said.



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