Football: Backup QB Nunez delivers, but UL falls to UL Monroe
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Sept. 24, 2017
The UL football team thought it had its quarterback situation in tip-top shape after Jordan Davis threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns in an early loss at Tulsa, followed by a strong showing in the first half before he got hurt last weekend at Texas A&M.
But that wasn’t the case when the Ragin’ Cajuns opened their first Sun Belt Conference game of 2017, Saturday’s 56-50 double-overtime loss to UL Monroe on Saturday at Cajun Field.
Davis, still stinging from what happened in College Station, looked nothing like his usual self and was pulled after just a few opening-half series.
The fourth-year junior, a first-year starter, injured his left knee when he was hit and stepped awkwardly out of bounds in a 45-21 loss to the Aggies.
Juco-transfer backup Andre Nunez came in Saturday and darn-near saved the night, only to have a comeback bid from 21 points down in the fourth quarter fall short as Stevie Artigue missed a 40-yard field attempt and ULM’s Derrick Gore ran 8 yards up the middle on third-and-4 in the second session of OT.
UL coach Mark Hudspeth didn’t like what he saw before deciding to pull Davis on Saturday, and attributed it to a combination of the injury and limited practice work during the week.
He went 2-of-6 for just 8 yards.
“Jordan, we felt like after the first few series, just wasn’t ready,” Hudspeth said.
“You could just tell by the look in his eye. It probably was unfair to him to push him to be ready before he wasn’t.”
Hudspeth, whose 1-3 Cajuns are idle this week before visiting Idaho on Oct. 7, was asked Saturday night if he planned to open back up the UL quarterback competition.
“I don’t think so,” he said.
“Jordan’s got to get back and get healthy, though. So hopefully these two weeks will allow him to get back and get healthy. But Andre came in and did a really nice job, though.”
If nothing else Hudspeth may have found confidence in his backup, who hadn’t played in UL’s first three games and was making his Cajun debut after transferring at the start of the year from Iowa Western Community College.
“I thought Andre Nunez came in and did some good things, especially in the fourth quarter,” the Cajuns coach said. “I thought he looked exceptionally well, and gave our team a chance to win the game.”
Hudspeth thought it took Nunez “a while to get his feet wet” in the second quarter.
He initially missed a few checks, then — after a bit of a change to the game plan at halftime — found a rhythm.
“Once he got going in the second half, I give him credit,” Hudspeth said. “He really made some nice plays.”
Nunez, a Californian from Sierra Cayon High in the Los Angeles suburb of Chatsworth, was 24-of-43 for 287 yards and two touchdowns.
He threw fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Jarrod Jackson and, on the final play of regulation to help force OT, to Ja’Marcus Bradley.
The 14-yard overtime-forcing throw to Bradley was designed as a post route.
“But I got flushed out,” Nunez said, “and he worked with me, so I just threw it up and gave him a chance.”
Nunez’s TD throw to Jackson was a 12-yarder.
“I was proud of him,” said Jackson, who called himself one of Nunez’s “biggest fans.”
“Honestly, I was really proud of him, because for a guy who doesn’t get that many snaps, when it was time to go in he was ready.”
Nunez works mostly with Cajun backups in practice, and he didn’t play in the second half at Texas A&M even after it was evident Davis was quite limited.
But with Davis still hurting, he got extra time with the starters over the past week.
“I just knew I had to wait my turn, as Coach Hall (UL offensive coordinator Will Hall) said,” Nunez said. “Coach Hall kept me prepared through the week.”
Nunez credited his receivers, and Davis, too.
“My guys made it easy on me,” he said. “You know, they got open — so all I had to do was get ’em the ball.
“(Davis) was pumping me up, supporting me on the sideline. So it was good for me to see that he was there for me.”