LAFAYETTE — He started. He finished. He took every snap.
In UL-Lafayette’s 42-27 win over Texas State Saturday, junior quarterback Jalen Nixon may have finally done what Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth has been hoping one of his quarterbacks would do since spring practice.
Namely, win the starting job.
“I don’t see how you couldn’t say that after tonight,” Hudspeth said of Nixon being the starting quarterback moving forward.
“He was good enough to be the guy next week. He played extremely well.”
That’s something that Hudspeth has been reluctant to announce and reluctant to commit to. Neither Nixon nor Brooks Haack had done anything to solidify himself as the starter leading into Saturday night.
But Nixon was efficient against Texas State, going 22-for-29 for 238 yards. He threw for three touchdowns — the first time the Cajuns have had a quarterback throw for three touchdowns since Terrance Broadway last November. He also ran for 45 yards and a touchdown.
“Jalen had a stellar performance tonight,” Hudspeth said. “He had almost 300 yards total offense. He was in control of the game the entire night. “We didn’t have any turnovers. He threw the ball extremely efficiently. He ran the ball well and he got some help from a lot of guys that had some big plays.”
Nixon did get help from Jamal Robinson and Al Riles, both who had monster games. Riles had career highs with nine catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. Robinson caught his first touchdown since last October and ended the game with four catches for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
Robinson said the offensive line played well — especially after the loss of Mykhael Quave during the week — and said the game plan was what got Nixon going.
“I think we started the game out with some short passes and that got (Nixon’s) confidence up,” Robinson said. “Then, when it’s time to go deep, he was launching it and he let it go.”
Riles said the intermediate passing game is the Cajuns’ biggest weapon. He said Nixon’s game is tuned to the fast passes and when the Cajuns use an up-tempo approach, Riles said it’s hard to stop.
“We’ve been begging to get the ball quicker to help our game,” Riles said. “All week in practice, he gives us balls that we have to work hard for, but in the games, he is giving us good balls. Now we are coming to expect it.”
Hudspeth said it wasn’t just the short passes, but Nixon’s long passes that impressed him.
“I thought he threw some strikes,” Hudspeth said. “He threw a strike to Gabe (Fuselier) that we missed on and a (31-yard touchdown) strike to Jamal. He was very accurate.”
Hudspeth said the quarterback situation has been unfair to both Haack and Nixon and said moving forward with Nixon, it will be beneficial to have one guy.
“Both are great kids and hard workers,” Hudspeth said. “It’s definitely a positive to know who your guy is going to be. It took a while to figure that out. You can see tonight, when we get in a rhythm and do what we do, it’s pretty effective.”