Cajuns football team goes live in spring scrimmage, and coach Mark Hudspeth said he liked what he saw _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- UL-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth

LAFAYETTE — Louisiana-Lafayette football coach Mark Hudspeth wanted to withhold judgment on his team until it had gone through some live action.

On Saturday, he got to see some of that as his team went through its first scrimmage of spring practice. He came away impressed with some of the offensive players who haven’t had much live, competitive action in their college careers.

“I’ll tell you what stood out: I thought our quarterbacks played really well,” Hudspeth said. “We let (redshirt freshmen) Chris Weaver and Dion Ray go live — really all of (the QBs) except for Jordan (Davis), because they’ve never been in live bullets. I thought Chris Weaver and Dion Ray both really made some nice plays out there today.”

Weaver and Ray, who redshirted as true freshmen last season, were working with the second-team offense.

Although both are undersized when measured against the prototype, Hudspeth has said Weaver has one of the strongest arms of any quarterback he has ever coached, and Ray brings elite speed.

“All the quarterbacks are doing some good stuff,” Hudspeth said. “I like the direction we’re going — I feel a little better about that direction today. It’s the first time we’ve really gone live. I’ve got to watch the film, but overall (I’m) pretty pleased.”

Weaver is competing with Davis for the starting job, but Hudspeth said Ray has been opening some eyes this spring.

“His stock’s really going up,” Hudspeth said. “I’ve been really proud of him.”

It wasn’t only the quarterbacks who grabbed Hudspeth’s attention Saturday.

With recently converted running back Jalen Nixon working his way back from an injury and Elijah McGuire still a part of the men’s basketball team, redshirt freshman Jordan Wright has been taking advantage of the increased playing time.

The Cajuns currently only have three healthy running backs.

“One thing it’s afforded us to do is the opportunity to force-feed Jordan Wright,” Hudspeth said. “We already know what (Darius) Hoggins can do, and he’s having a good camp, but it’s force-feed Jordan Wright to get double the reps he would’ve gotten. He had a good scrimmage today. He’s getting more confident as he gets more playing time, and it was evident today. I thought he had a couple nice runs, broke some tackles and more importantly he took care of the football.”

Just looking

McGuire, who joined the basketball team in January and has not practiced with the football team this spring, did not travel with the basketball team to face Furman in the CollegeInsider.com tournament this weekend because of a medical procedure for a member of his family.

But McGuire was there as a spectator at Saturday’s practice, and Hudspeth said he anticipated his star running back joining his team as soon as basketball season is over.

“That’d be a big shot in the arm,” Hudspeth said.

New coach soon?

Hudspeth has been serving in multiple roles for the first six practices of the spring, coaching wide receivers in addition to performing his duties as head coach.

The Cajuns thought they filled their staff when they hired former Southern Miss running backs coach John Simon shortly after national signing day to coach wide receivers, but Simon accepted an offer to coach Arizona State running backs about a month later.

But Hudspeth’s days as a position coach sound like they’re numbered.

“There’s a possibility that I might make an announcement Monday morning,” he said. “We’re pretty close.”

Solid finish

Hudspeth might never end a practice with a more personally enjoyable play.

His oldest son, Gunner Hudspeth, is a redshirt freshman quarterback, and he closed Saturday’s scrimmage with a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone on a fade route.