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Football: Dillon may change positions again in ailing UL defense

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Sept. 26, 2017

After a 56-50 double-overtime loss to UL Monroe last Saturday in which the Ragin’ Cajuns gave up 593 yards of total offense, UL coach Mark Hudspeth discussed the possibility of more personnel changes on defense.

On Monday, Hudspeth suggested one proposal being pondered is moving third-year sophomore Joe Dillon from the Will inside linebacker back spot back to Buck defensive end/outside linebacker, where he was a USA Today Freshman All-American last season.

“That’s one thing under consideration,” said Hudspeth, who planned to discuss the possible move with Dillon before the Cajuns return to practice Tuesday.

UL (1-3), idle this week before playing Idaho on Oct. 7, took Sunday night off from practice and took Monday off as usual.

“We just have not seen the production from Joe Dillon that we would have liked to have seen,” Hudspeth said after he had just three tackles, including two assists, against ULM.

“I don’t know,” Hudspeth added, “if it’s because he feels like he’s out of position.”

After the loss to ULM, a game in which Warhawks QB Caleb Evans ran for five touchdowns and threw for 343 yards and one TD, Hudspeth said, “Our person in charge of tackling the quarterback was out of position most of the night.”

Tim Buckley: Ragin' Cajuns defense in need of another fix

Evans was named Sun Belt Conference offensive Player of the Week on Monday.

Dillon started the season’s first two games at the Buck, and the Cajuns weren’t especially happy with what he was doing there then.

They then moved him to the Will spot as part of multiple changes made following a 66-42 loss at Tulsa in which UL yielded 667 yards.

The Cajuns are thin at the Will with 2016 top-tackler Tre’maine Lightfoot having been a senior last season, juco-transfer Ferrod Garder having sustained a season-ending foot injury early in preseason camp and Tanner Holmes leaving the team after the Tulsa game.

“A lot of times I tell our players, you know, ‘We can put you in the right spots, but sometimes it’s between you and you and how hard you play,’ ” Hudspeth said. “So sometimes, you know, it can be on us. But sometimes it can be on the player’s efforts too.

“So we’re gonna try to find the best place for Joe (Dillion) to be more productive, whether that’s staying there or moving.”

More: UL's Hudspeth challenges freshman All-American Dillon

At the Will, Dillon said last week, it’s “a different view” than that to which he was accustomed at the Buck.

If Dillon does return to the Buck, sophomore Jacques Boudreaux could start again at the Will, as he did at Tulsa.

Hudspeth also suggested transfer walk-on Tommy Whitted may see significant playing time at inside linebacker when UL visits Idaho.

“I’ll tell you who did play much better was Boudreaux,” Hudpseth said.

“He’s a young guy who just now is getting his feet wet. Played a lot the other night. Played awfully well. As a matter of fact, he was in there at the end of the game when we got the two big stops.

“He’s moving up the charts,” the Cajuns coach added, “and Tommy Whitted – the walk-on kid who sort of made his name early with special teams – will be in the rotation.”

The situation with Dillon and the Will linebackers may not be UL’s only off-week personnel changes.

Related: How the Cajuns' comeback bid fell short in double OT

“We’re gonna try to find the best guys we can to put them in positions where they can be successful,” he said, “because right now we’ve got some guys that are just not giving us the production we need to see.”

Hudspeth, who Cajuns are allowing the most points in the country at 53.8 per game, also suggested UL coaches can do a better job with how they’re using players.

“A lot of guys went too many (plays) defensively (Saturday),” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job of substituting guys throughout the game.”

Hudspeth hopes the off-week helps several key Cajuns heal, including free safety Travis Crawford, who was out Saturday with a lower-leg bruise, and nose tackle Taboris Lee (elbow).

Injured defensive end Terrence Jones, the Cajuns coach added, could also play for the first time this season at Idaho.

“That will help us a lot,” he said, “because Trev Miller is playing way too many snaps. Jarvis Jeffries is playing way too many snaps; he’s not being productive because of (how) many snaps he’s playing.”

Kevin Foote: Another ULM comeback for the ages ... almost

Before Dillon went to inside linebacker, Miller and Jeffries shared time at defensive end. Since then, both have started.

Hudspeth, meanwhile, did see some things he liked defensively Saturday.

“I thought Corey Turner absolutely played his heart out,” he said.

Turner moved from UL’s Slash spot to free safety after the Tulsa game.

“He covered up mistakes all night long, (overcame) some other efforts from some other players and played with relentless effort,” Hudspeth said.

Cornerback Simeon Thomas, he added, “took another step forward also.”

Thomas had a team-high 11 tackles Saturday; Turner had 10. 

“You know, defensively I thought at times we played with good effort,” Hudspeth said.

“We’ve got some guys that looked like they were out of position, and that might be causing some of those guys to think a little more than you’d like to see instead of reacting.”

LAGNIAPPE: The Sun Belt on Monday announced UL’s game at Idaho will start at 4 p.m. (central) and will be carried online by ESPN3. … Hudspeth said starting kicker Stevie Artigue (quad strain) will be shut down this week. … The Cajuns also will make a couple off-week kickoff-unit changes, Hudspeth said.



Judice & Adley