LAFAYETTE — Louisiana-Lafayette football coach Mark Hudspeth was so pleased with his team’s effort in Saturday’s spring game that he fudged his self-devised scoring system to ensure neither the offense nor defense came out ahead.
“I thought our guys came out and competed pretty good today. I called it a 17-17 tie, so everybody wins today,” he said. “They’ll get Monday off — they haven’t had a day off in a while — and it’s well-deserved.”
Officially unofficial, walk-on kicker Dylan Scheurich connected on a 47-yard field goal to make it 20-17 in the closing minutes, but Hudspeth decided not to count it in his book.
With spring camp nearly concluded — the Cajuns will wrap up with their 15th and final practice Tuesday — Hudspeth said he nearly checked all the boxes with his spring camp.
Except for that one big one that everybody wants to know about.
“You’d have liked to have a little better idea of who your quarterback is going to be, and it just didn’t get answered,” Hudspeth said. “Not because one guy didn’t pull away; it’s just because all three improved. They’re all three really keeping pace with one another, so the competition will go into the summer. That should push them all to get better this summer.”
Hudspeth’s three quarterbacks — redshirt freshman Jordan Davis and juniors Brooks Haack and Jalen Nixon — didn’t do much to separate themselves in Saturday’s game.
Haack led the team down the field for a touchdown on the opening drive, culminating in a 7-yard Effrem Reed touchdown run but otherwise completed 6-of-13 passes for 52 yards.
Davis was 3-of-5 for 22 yards while adding 13 on the ground, and Nixon was 2-of-5 for 27 yards while throwing the lone interception of the day.
As a team, the Cajuns completed 12 of 25 passes for 110 yards.
Hudspeth said the team will enter fall camp without a clearly defined starter at the position.
The Cajuns ran the ball well, picking up 231 yards on 35 carries. Reed and true freshman Walter Williams each scored, and Torrey Pierce and Montrel Carter each gained 39 yards on the ground.
“Defensively, we gave up a couple long runs, but I had them playing as vanilla as you could play, so that meant they did what they could do,” Hudspeth said.
Neither Jamal Robinson nor Jared Johnson suited up for the scrimmage at receiver, but Hudspeth said he was pleased with the way juniors C.J. Bates and Devin Scott played. Bates led the team with four catches for 55 yards.
On defense, senior linebacker Darzil Washington made the play of the day: a 60-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
“The first 30 (yards), man, I was exhausted,” Washington said. “I just had to make it in the end zone. … You’ve got people running behind you, (and) it feels like that 100 yards is way longer than 100 yards. It feels like 200 after a while.”
Washington did not participate in spring drills last season, and he was a late arrival in the fall after going through academic clearance issues with the NCAA. Going through a full offseason conditioning program has done wonders, Hudspeth said.
“He came in last year, and he really didn’t even start with us until after two-a-days had begun,” Hudspeth said. “He wasn’t in shape, and he never really got in shape at any point of the season. Now he’s going to come into fall camp in great shape, and he’ll be a different player this fall.”
Backup safety Dominick Jones hauled in the interception, and starting safety Travis Crawford led the team in tackles with five.
The defense was somewhat handicapped by the aforementioned “vanilla” look Hudspeth and his staff chose to use. With an all-new defensive coaching staff, Hudspeth and others have intimated that the Cajuns defense will have a new look when the season opens at Kentucky on Sept. 5.
There was no need to provide any study material for the Wildcats at the spring game, Hudspeth said.
“You can assume that, absolutely,” Hudspeth said when asked whether the defense would have a new look for the opener. “It was about getting guys lined up and just playing today, obviously not giving anything away. That’s one card that we can hold for the first game.”
The Cajuns appeared to get out of the game without suffering any major injuries. Though his team missed a handful of projected starters — including reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year Elijah McGuire — who were rehabbing injuries, Hudspeth said he should have a full deck by the time fall camp arrives.
“Right now, everybody is on pace to be there for fall camp,” he said, “and just about everybody is on schedule to be there for June 1 once we start summer workouts as a team.”