UL's Hill will have surgery; Cure Bowl status uncertain
Zi’Yon Hill’s status for the Dec. 15 Cure Bowl in Orlando remains uncertain, but one thing now is for sure: UL’s standout defensive lineman will undergo postseason surgery to repair his injured shoulder.
Hill, a sophomore from Catholic High of New Iberia, did not play in the Ragin’ Cajuns 30-19 Sun Belt Conference championship game loss at Appalachian State last Saturday after aggravating a pre-existing injury in practice the prior Thursday.
“I’ll know a little bit more as we get into Sunday, Monday, Tuesday of next week,” UL coach Billy Napier said with reference to Hill’s availability for the bowl game against Tulane. “But we’re making an effort … and he wants to play in the game.
“But we are gonna have to fix his shoulder, and we’ll do that Sunday after the bowl game.”
Hill is UL’s fifth-leading tackler this season with 42, despite missing two games earlier this season — a loss at No. 1 Alabama and a win at Texas State — and recording no stats in another due to the shoulder.
He was limited to three games as a true freshman last season by a knee injury that also required surgery.
Hill did not practice Wednesday.
Napier also said Wednesday that nickel back Terik Miller, who has missed three games with a knee injury, did practice Wednesday and is expected to play against Tulane.
But, he added, special-teams players Tommy Whitted, Lenard Calloway and Asjlin Washington remain in concussion protocol and are “questionable” for the bowl.
With UL coaches focusing heavily on recruiting this week and final exams ongoing, the Cajuns held their only practice in pads on Wednesday before reconvening Sunday to begin bowl preparation in earnest.
“This week is an opportunity for us to continue to stay sharp, but, at the same time, an opportunity to recover,” Napier said, adding Wednesday’s session was a “spring practice-type practice” and that it was “good to get back on the grass there and kind of knock the rust off a little.”
The practice was UL’s first since the SBC title game.
HALL TO TULANE
Will Hall, the last offensive coordinator in the Mark Hudspeth coaching era at UL, was hired this week to be Tulane’s new offensive coordinator.
Hall — who spent just one season with the Cajuns in 2017 — was associate head coach and tight ends coach at Memphis this year.
He replaces Doug Ruse, who was fired after the end of the regular season, following a three-year stint at Tulane.
“Will’s a friend of mine. I’ve known him for a long time,” Napier said Wednesday.
“One of the harder things I’ve had to do was not retain him here, and I was happy that he landed on his feet with Coach (Mike) Norvell at Memphis.
“I’m excited for Will to get a chance to call plays again,” Napier added, “and I would think that he would have some input going into the game.”
According to a Nola.com report, however, assistant head coach, offensive line coach and run-game coordinator Alex Atkins “will handle play-calling duties” for the Green Wave against UL in the Cure Bowl.
The Cajuns named their permanent team captains, as selected by teammates, at their annual team banquet last Sunday.
The picks: senior quarterback Andre Nunez, junior offensive tackle Robert Hunt, senior safety Corey Turner and junior safety Deuce Wallace.
Five Cajuns — Hunt, running backs Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell, receiver Ja’Marcus Bradley and offensive guard Kevin Dotson — were named Wednesday to Pro Football Focus’ all-Sun Belt offensive postseason honor team.
Only Dotson was named to the league’s official all-Sun Belt first team.
No Cajuns were named to PFF’s all-SBC defensive first team.
UL defensive lineman Bennie Higgins was named to the PFF all-SBC second team, as was center Cole Prudhomme and kick returner Raymond Calais Jr.
UL assistant coach Patrick Toney has been selected to participate in the 35 Under 35 Leadership Institute, a prestigious honor for rising younger coaches.
Toney — a former defensive assistant at Texas San Antonio, Sam Houston State and Southeastern Louisiana — coaches Cajun safeties.
Yahoo.com this week compiled a “power ranking” list of this season’s bowl matchups from 1 through 39.
The UL-Tulane Cure Bowl meeting checked in at No. 39, sans explanation.