LAFAYETTE — Earlier this week, Mark Hudspeth felt he was swimming with chum in the water and a swarm of sharks circling him.
He was at the American Football Coaches Association convention in San Antonio, and he had not one but two openings on his staff. With every Tom, Dick and Harry of the coaching world in attendance, the demands for a minute of the Louisiana-Lafayette football coach’s time grew exhausting.
He made his way out of the feeding frenzy back to Lafayette, and now he has a decision to make, one he hopes to have finalized by the end of next week.
Hudspeth has spoken with six people about his open offensive coordinator position. The strength and conditioning position vacated when Rusty Whitt accepted an offer at Texas Tech may already be filled by former North Texas strength coach Lewis Caralla, but Hudspeth said he was unable to comment on that.
“We’re looking for the best fit all around,” Hudspeth said. “I’ve got a lot of different avenues that I can decide to go, but I have not decided yet which way.”
The one thing Hudspeth has decided is that his offense will look different than the previous iterations under Jay Johnson, who left for the same position at Minnesota.
In the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons, the Cajuns’ offensive personnel was built to punish defenses with a power attack, with 240-pound running back Alonzo Harris and 220-pound quarterback Terrance Broadway running behind road graders like 340-pound lineman Daniel Quave.
“People couldn’t stop us,” Hudspeth said. “We were going on 12- and 13-play drives every week.”
The Cajuns aren’t built like that anymore. For the first time in Hudspeth’s tenure, they struggled to move the ball and score points last season partly because the scheme no longer fit the personnel.
Hudspeth wants to see this year’s offense spread the field more and take advantage of the Cajuns’ speed and depth at the skill positions.
“I want to be an open, spread team, a tempo team,” Hudspeth said. “I want to spread the ball around more than what we’ve done in the past, utilize more of our playmakers, and I want to work on matchups more than what we’ve done in the past. Finding ways to get (running back Elijah McGuire) matched up.”
Now that he has identified what type of offense he wants to run, Hudspeth just has to decide on the man to direct it. It seems the majority of the candidates came from outside the program, but Hudspeth also said his new coordinator could come from his current staff.
“If I hire somebody on the outside, it would be, for the most part, I’m hiring them to run what they run,” Hudspeth said. “I know what I want to do, but if we stay in house, we’re definitely going to change and be more adaptive. But I haven’t decided this quite yet.”
Hudspeth declined to say which of his offensive assistants is up for the coordinator job, but he did say that if he decides to remain in house, he might take the reins as the full-time play-caller. Though Hudspeth said he played a part in calling plays with Johnson, he hasn’t been the lone play-caller since his days at North Alabama.
He said if he hires someone from his own staff to coordinate the offense, that would open another position coach job.
The end-of-next-week timetable is not set in stone, Hudspeth said, and there’s no real pressure to get the position filled before national signing day Feb. 3.
“(The recruits) that we’ve got on board offensively know what we’re about,” Hudspeth said. “They’ve been with us for a while. … They know what I’ve told them, what we’re going to be doing.
“It’s just a matter of who’s going to call the plays, who’s going to be the coordinator. They’re not going to come in here and we’re going to the triple option or the wishbone.”