Cajuns expect Gardner to be cleared soon for full contact
UL senior linebacker Ferrod Gardner, still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, should soon resume full contact, Ragin’ Cajuns coach Billy Napier said when addressing media members during a Tuesday teleconference.
Napier said Gardner has been engaging in some contact drills but is “not 100 percent cleared for contact yet.”
The Cajuns “anticipate him getting cleared for ... full-go contact here soon,” the Cajuns coach added.
Napier did not mention Gardner as being among the injured when camp opened earlier this month and had not disclosed that he was not fully participating until he was asked Tuesday.
Granted a sixth season of eligibility for 2020, Gardner – a Missouri walk-on redshirt in 2015 who is projected to again start at the Will inside linebacker position for UL – opened 12 of the 13 games he played last year and finished with 47 total tackles.
He also had 50 tackles over 13 games for the Cajuns in 2018, and got the sixth season granted after spending 2016 at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas but not getting onto the field at all – partly because of a foot injury – in 2017.
His full participation in preseason drills evidently has been missed by Cajun teammates.
“That’s my guy right there, man,” Lorenzo McCaskill, UL’s projected starting Mike linebacker, said earlier this week. “I can’t wait until he’s back and healthy.”
With Gardner at less than 100 percent, Kris Moncrief has been both backing up McCaskill at the Mike and working at the Will.
McCaskill said Jourdan Quibodeaux, a redshirt junior reserve linebacker from Academia, also has been working at the Mike and the Will.
“Quib, he’s probably had one of the best camps in our room,” said McCaskill, who plays exclusively at the play-calling Mike spot. “He’s going to be tremendous this year as well.”
Napier said walk-freshman receiver Reginald Johnson, a one-time University of Houston commit, has left the team and decided to go to a juco.
Johnson, a product of Southern Lab in Baton Rouge, missed time early in preseason camp with a hamstring injury.
UL announced Johnson as a Class of 2020 signee in February but on Tuesday Napier said that Johnson had “walked on.”
Napier said that as of Tuesday the Cajuns “anticipate not playing on the 5th” of September, “but that is not completely done yet.”
After losing non-conference games against McNeese, Wyoming, New Mexico State and Missouri to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, UL currently is scheduled to open its season with a recently added Sept. 12 game at No. 25 Iowa State.
Last week, McNeese backed out of Sept. 5 game at Cajun Field that was to have been UL’s opener.
Napier suggested he is leaving scheduling matters solely in the hands of UL athletic director Bryan Maggard.
“I’ve got a laundry list of things to do,” Napier said, “and nothing has to do with who we play or when we play.”
Maggard has suggested that he hopes to add at least one more game to UL’s current nine-opponent schedule, but also indicated that if it’s on Sept. 5 he would prefer for it to be at home.
Terms of UL’s contract with Iowa State, obtained by The Daily Advertiser, make note of special COVID-19 considerations.
Among them are caveats contained in Force Majeure Event clause that say either school can cancel the game if the coronavirus pandemic prevents it from being held “at the scheduled date and time,” prevents “travel to the competition site,” prevents a team “from being able to field a sufficient number of players or position players to participate” or if it “endangers the health or safety of team members, facility employees, officials, or spectators at the competition or during travel to the competition.”
The deal also calls for a $350,000 payday for the Cajuns with a $350,000 damages clause for breach of contract.