home sitesearch sitemap contact fan about
  Submit/Update Profile  

Search the Network:

Football: UL’s Hudspeth – “It’s been one of those years”

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, November 21, 2015


NCAA Football: UL Lafayette at Kentucky

Cajuns quarterback Brooks Haack (9) leads his team on the field during the Sept. 5 game at Kentucky.(Photo: Mark Zerof/USA Today)



Before UL’s most-recent outing, a Nov. 12 loss at South Alabama, and eight games into the 2015 season, Ragin’ Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth was asked to grade himself personally.

The Cajuns were 4-4 at the time, and now they’re 4-5 heading in Saturday afternoon’s home game against New Mexico State.

Hudspeth was brutally honest.

“Not very good,” he said. “That’s probably how everybody else would grade it too.”

Hudspeth went on to describe the frantic feeling he’s faced, due largely to one costly injury after another, but also the loss of would-be starting cornerback Simeon Thomas due to NCAA eligibility issues and the cloud of an NCAA investigation into alleged recruiting violations by a former assistant coach.

There was the torn rotator cuff that cut short the Cajun career of senior Mykhael Quave, an NFL prospect.

There have been more shoulder injuries than any one team should have to shoulder, including one early in the season that limited quarterback Jalen Nixon, and one to former starting linebacker Tre’maine Lightfoot, and starting safety Tracy Waler’s, and outside linebacker Darzil Washington’s separated shoulder, and linebacker Tyren Alexander’s stinger, not to mention the surgically repaired shoulder of star running back Elijah McGuire that still is not quite right.

There have been ankle injuries, and senior safety T.J. Worthy’s lingering hamstring injury, and a rash of preseason injuries to multiple Cajun receivers, including a knee tendon tear that’s had starting-contender Jared Johnson out all season.

“It’s been one of those years,” Hudspeth said. “And you have those years, where you have leaks in a dam and you’re plugging them with your fingers.

“Sometimes you’re reaching up and sticking a toe in it. And by the time you get this one plugged — boom — you spring another leak with another injury or another situation.

“And we were probably due to have some injuries, because we’ve been very fortunate not to have very many,” he added. “So, I think the law of averages caught up with us in that situation.”

For four years, the Cajuns had one of the most stable offensive lines in college football.

This season, in addition to losing Quave, starting tackle Grant Horst, who had to move to guard after Quave exited, missed the loss at South Alabama due to a concussion, the same injury that cost senior defensive lineman Chris Prater time earlier this year.

“But that’s part of coaching,” Hudspeth said. “And, to be honest with you, that’s when you feel like you’re doing the most.

“It may not be, all the time, the right decision. But you’ve got a lot of decisions to make. Some of them are good. Some of them didn’t work, so then you change it (and) try something else until you finally get that dam plugged.

“We’ve made a lot of personnel moves throughout the season — not just on the offensive line and with the quarterback (where Nixon and current starter Brooks Haack and have taken turns starting), but in the secondary and at linebacker,” he added. “It’s been a lot of ‘managing’ the team. But that’s the main job as a head coach.”

After the loss at South Alabama, with games at Appalachian State and against Troy to end the regular season awaiting after Saturday’s against NMSU, Hudspeth bemoaned much of the same.

“We’ve gotten a lot of breaks in the last four years and stayed pretty healthy,” he said.

“We’ve got some young guys that have got to step up. But I know this: We’ll go into next season with a lot of returning guys (who) have played a lot of ball because of the number of reps they’ve gotten this year when starters have gotten hurt.

“We’ll get better at some of the things that these young kids are lacking — whether it’s fundamentals, whether it’s tackling, whether it’s throw-and-catching,” Hudspeth added this week. “We’ll get better at those things when you have a team that gives you great effort, and that’s what they’re doing every game.”