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Football: Johnson flawless in first center start

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, August 31, 2014



UL Ragin’ Cajuns quarterback Terrance Broadway (8) drops back for a pass attempt during the second half of Saturday’s win over Southern. (Photo: Paul Kieu/The Advertiser)



Some were worried about center-quarterback snaps.

Terry Johnson’s first-ever game at center, however, turned out to be a snap for the Ragin’ Cajun senior in UL’s 45-6 season-opening win over Southern on Saturday night.

"We have been working countless hours, staying after practice," UL quarterback Terrance Broadway said. "Coach Hud (Mark Hudspeth) made us stay after practice all week (last) week with Terry and the centers. Terry did a great job for his first start."

Johnson wasn’t just making his college first start at center, though. He was making his first start at the spot at any level of organized football.

The Mississippian started all season at guard for UL, then was moved from guard to center after the first week of preseason camp earlier this month.

"We just wanted to keep working, keep working, keep preparing – and I think it paid off," Hudspeth said, "because I don’t think we really had a bad snap. … I’m not for-sure, but I don’t remember one."

MOLBERT, HILL DO NOT START: Would-be UL starting outside linebacker Jake Molbert did not play Saturday night and was replaced in the opening linebacker by Tyren Alexander.

Hudspeth said Molbert "became ill (Friday), so we held him out. He should be back Monday."

Would-be starting inside linebacker Chris Hill also didn’t play.

"Chris Hill was held because of an academic eligibility issue that we’re trying to rectify," Hudspeth said.

Senior Trae Johnson opened in Hill’s spot and wound up with a team-high eight tackles.

Johnson said he learned last Sunday that he’d probably start, and the Cajuns managed to keep that fact quiet throughout the week.

WHAT A PUNT: Australian punter Daniel Cadona of the Cajuns averaged 54.8 yards on four punts, including an Aussie-style 77-yarder that was the fourth-longest in UL history and the longest-ever at Cajun Field.

The ball was brought to the 20-yard line because it went into the end zone, and Hudspeth said receiver Jamal Robinson apologized him to because he "thought ball already was into end zone" and wound up pulling up rather than being able to down it.

"They brought the (rush) up the middle," Hudspeth said, "and we checked to a rollout punt, and Cadona really nailed it. He showed us the kind of weapon he can be. He was very effective."

Wayne Kingery had the longest punt in UL history, an 88-yarder at Northwester State in 1948. The next-two longest went 79 yards, by Steve Gossen vs. Louisiana Tech in 1959 and Randy Baggett at Tennessee in 1992.

LATE ARRIVAL: Southern’s team buses didn’t arrive until about 5:07 p.m. for the 6 p.m. game.

The Jaguars never did take the field as a team during the usual pregame warmup period.

Instead, Southern players continued their stretching routine while the National Anthem was being performed.

"You have to alter what you normally do," Southern coach Dawson said of the unexplained late arrival. "In this game, there’s no such thing as ‘comfort zone.’ You have routines the way you like to do things, but sometimes those routines get altered. You have to adapt and overcome.

"You have to try to do it in this game, and you have to do it in life, and that’s really what we try to get our players to understand.

"Today we adapted," Odums added, "but we didn’t overcome. But the great thing is we have tomorrow."

LAGNIAPPE: UL’s offense started with a two tight-end set, going with Larry Pettis (who later had a TD catch thrown by backup QB Brooks Haack) and Nick Byrne. … UL backup inside linebacker Trey Granier, a transfer from UL, sustained a right ankle injury in the first half and wasn’t expected to return. … Southern starting receiver Randall Menard, a Breaux Bridge product, exited the game for good in the second quarter with a foot injury. … UL captains were Broadway, safeties Trevence Patt and Sean Thomas, and receiver James Butler. … Several members of UL’s 1994 Big West-Conference title team were honored on the field in the first quarter. … Wearing a rain poncho, ex-UL and former NFL quarterback Jake Delhomme threw a ball through a burger poster during a between-quarters promotion. … In the house: Ex-UL point guard Elfrid Payton, selection 10th overall in this year’s NBA Draft and now with the Orlando Magic.