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Junior linebacker Chris Hill will not play against Southern

Junior linebacker Chris Hill, who won a fall competition for a starting job at middle linebacker, will not play in the Ragin’ Cajuns season opener against Southern.

A school spokesman declined to give a reason for Hill’s absence Saturday, saying media will be informed why Hill didn’t play after the game is over.

Hill beat out a couple players for the starting job, including senior Trae Johnson and sophomore Trey Granier. Johnson will move into the starting lineup in Hill’s absence Saturday.

Hill turned in a career-high 38 tackles in 12 games last season.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge makes its way to Ragin Cajuns’ practice field

We’re going through the dog days of summer, and there’s no better way to cool down than with a tall refreshing glass of ice water.

But what about an entire bucket of ice water, one that’s dumped over your head rather than sipped through a straw?

Well, as long as it’s going toward a good cause.

Coach Mark Hudspeth and a couple members of his staff were the latest to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a social media movement designed to raise awareness for ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Here’s the video.

You can donate to the ALS Association here, or if you want a more local cause, donate to former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason’s Foundation, which helps “provide individuals with muscular diseases or injuries with leading edge technology, equipment and services.”

PRACTICE REPORT: Cajuns escape the heat Wednesday … sort of.

The Cajuns moved inside for their third practice of the season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was much cooler. The doors were open at the indoor practice facility, and only one of the giant overhead fans was turned on. The players might’ve been out of the sun, but as my soaked shirt can attest, it was still pretty darn hot.

The move was made, of course, with a purpose. Coach Mark Hudspeth called yesterday “one of the hottest days of the summer,” and said five players needed IV fluid bags after practice. He didn’t have any problems with that after today’s practice (look for more on that in Dan’s story later).

Outside of the change in venues, the team practiced in shells (shoulder pads and helmets) for the first time today. Full pads and the glorious popping sounds that come with them arrive Friday.

Here are some other observations from morning practice.

  • Quarterback Jalen Nixon is suspended for the 2014 practice, but continues to practice with the team. He didn’t take any reps at quarterback in the portion of practice open to the media, but was running downfield on the kickoff coverage unit.
  • Grant Horst was working with the first team at center, but Hudspeth made it sound like it was only a matter of time until Eddie Gordon works his way in, saying, “I noticed Eddie Gordon today, a lot. He’s got a really good base. Grant’s got a little more understanding of the scheme and the offense … but Eddie’s coming on strong.”
  • Today was really my first time to see Eli McGuire in space. He is fast. 
  • Speaking of McGuire, he was back returning kicks today, but Hudspeth said he’s aiming at limiting his return duties to punts. Who else was back with McGuire? Freshman Gabe Fuselier and Montrel Carter.  Of Carter returning kicks, Hudspeth said, “That’s what his specialty is.” He just needs to convince Hudspeth that he can take care of the ball. To my eye,  he’s got a really nice burst back there.
  • Terrance Broadway looked really solid in the few passes he threw.
  • The offensive calls were pretty bland today as they looked like they were installing the basics. Made the defense look like world-beaters as they blew up screen pass after screen pass.

That’s about it for now. Stay plugged in to for more fleshed-out stories.

Talbot and Freeman named Ragin’ Cajuns baseball assistants

The Ragin’ Cajuns baseball team has tabbed its replacements for assistants Matt Deggs and Lance Harvell, both of whom left for Sam Houston State last month.

Jeremy Talbot will succeed Deggs as the Ragin’ Cajuns’ hitting coach and recruiting coordinator.  Talbot’s had an interesting journey to this point.

His last college coaching job was with Texas A&M (where he was working with Deggs, interestingly enough) in a similar role to what he’ll play with the Cajuns. His Aggies had success, as his last recruiting class was ranked No. 6 in the country, and his offenses averaged better than seven runs per game.

But, as far as I can find, he’s spent the last several years coaching at the high school ranks. He left the Texas A&M job in 2009 for an assistant coaching job at Hahnville High School with both the baseball and football teams.

That’s the last reference I could find of him since he left the coaching gig with the Aggies. I’ll keep looking into it to see exactly what he’s been up to since then.

The other new member of the staff is Daniel Freeman, a former Houston Astros farmhand who has been the pitching coach at West Monroe High School the last couple seasons. He’s got almost a decade of coaching experience though — his prior experience being as a private instructor — and has coached 14 Division I athletes, according to UL-Lafayette news release. He’ll join the staff as a volunteer assistant.

Here’s what coach Tony Robichaux had to say about the two new hires: ”Our goal was to go out and find a hitting coach that could continue to help us grow. Jeremy was the perfect answer having coached at a high level and played at a high level while coming from the same hitting system as Deggs. The two of them worked together at Texas A&M under head coach Rob Childress in a similar situation to here, where the head coach was also the pitching coach. I think it’s a good fit, just like it was a good fit when Matt came in. I really like our hitting system and this hire will help to keep it the same.

“It’s good to have Daniel come on to work with the pitchers and balance our staff out amongst the hitters and pitchers. Working with pitchers is unique where everyone has a different routine each day, while hitters will all do the same things each day. We knew we were going to lose a great coach like Lance, and we feel like Daniel is the perfect person to replace him having played at a high level and had success. He also has a background in conditioning and can help to elevate our game on the mound.

“I think we got the best of both worlds. Jeremy is the hitting guy we were looking for and should fit in pretty seamlessly, while Daniel will be able to come in and help our pitching staff and divvy up the coaching jobs more evenly.”