Football: As Cajun camp opens, a confident Davis knows he'll start
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, July 30, 2017
When the UL football team opened its 2017 preseason camp Sunday, there was no uncertainty at quarterback.
No new guy from an SEC school showing up the day before camp got under way, like last year. No pretending there is a battle for the No. 1 job. No question in anyone’s mind, from the head coach to the offensive coordinator to teammates to the top QB himself.
The job belongs to fourth-year junior Jordan Davis, and – barring injury – that’s not going to change.
“He’s gonna be our guy,” UL head coach Mark Hudspeth said, confirming – as fully expected – what he first said coming out of spring drills earlier this year. “He’s had a great summer. He had a really good spring.
“And the thing about it: I think he’s got a comfort zone with (first-year offensive coordinator) Will Hall, and he’s got a lot of confidence with what we’re doing.
“And we’re going to utilize his talents,” Hudspeth said, “not just throwing the ball, but running the ball.”
Related: UL quarterback Davis wins the job
Davis went in spring practice in 2016 as the leading contender to win the job.
He didn’t emerge that way.
Hudspeth, then offensive coordinator Jorge Munoz (now back to being UL’s receivers coach) and the Cajuns opted to bring in LSU graduate-transfer Anthony Jennings instead.
The move was made over the summer, but because he had not yet graduated and been accepted in grad school at UL Jennings was not on hand for offseason workouts and didn't even know most of his teammates when camp began.
There was talk when camp opened about competition between Jennings and Davis, but reality suggests all involved – including Davis – knew the plan.
There’s no such pretense now.
Davis is UL’s No. 1, juco-transfer Andre Nunez is the backup and Dion Ray is the Wildcat/No. 3. Jennings was done after one season with the Cajuns.
Davis and Nunez "both threw the ball exceptionally well, " Hudspeth said afer Sunday's first practice, and Ray "threw the ball better than I've ever seen him throw."
The result of all the certainity to those around him suggest, is a much more-confident Davis on many fronts.
"He's picked up right where he left off," Hudspeth said Sunday. " This is the most self-confidence he's ever had. He's always had the skills.
It's just a confiedence level -- and I think that's evident when you see him out there now."
Senir lineman Grant Horst has seen it all summer.
“It makes a lot of (difference),” Horst said, “because I feel like with Anthony (Jennings), he came right at fall camp. So, I mean, we, you, really don’t have much time to get to know him.
“I feel like once we started getting to know (Jennings), that’s when we went on that roll on the back half of the season.”
UL opened 2016 3-5.
But the Cajuns went 3-1 in their final four regular-season games, with their only loss in that span coming at Georgia, to become bowl-eligible at 6-6.
Now, after losing to Southern Mississippi in the New Orleans Bowl and finishing 6-7, UL opens 2017 with a quarterback beginning his fourth year in the program.
“Jordan’s been here … a while,” Horst said of Davis, who played only sparingly in 2015 and '16 and has just 28 career pass attempts.
“Everyone knows him real well. He’s been with the program. … He knows what is expected of him, and I think he’s gonna perform.”
It’s not just Davis, though, who opened camp Sunday with extra confidence because of the QB certainty. That's something UL has had since Terrance Broadway was around in 2014, as Brooks Haack and Jalen Nixon went back-and-forth as starters in 2015.
It seems to go for the whole team, even on defense.
“I feel like it definitely allows us to be a little bit more comfortable going into camp, knowing who the exact starter is,” senior safety Tracy Walker said while in New Orleans for the Sun Belt Conference’s Media Day last week.
“But, with that being said, we still have to continue to get better each and every day, including Jordan (Davis).
“He has to come every day,” Walker added, “ready to work and ready to lead this offense and handle all the things the quarterback has to do.”
Hudspeth seems sure the 2017 version of Davis can do all that.
Now all the Texan has to do is prove it on the field, and the Cajun coach thinks he will.
“He’s a true dual-threat guy that I think help you with his arms and his legs,” Hudspeth said, “and he’s got a veteran offensive line in front of him, which should give him a little confidence.
“Then he’s got some talented wide receivers to throw the ball to.”
The table, in other words, seems set. But it’s up to Davis to serve some good eats.
“He has a lot of responsibilities on his hand,” Walker said, “so, basically, he just has to accept those roles and responsibilities, and he has to perfect it.”