Shortly after UL-Lafayette lost in embarrassing fashion to Louisiana Tech at home, coach Mark Hudspeth said his team was going to find out who its true leaders were.
A couple weeks and two more losses later, Hudspeth said his team is still looking for that guy to pull it out of the hole it’s sitting in at 1-3.
But a few players have caught his eye.
There are the usual suspects, like senior quarterback Terrance Broadway, who called a players-only meeting just two days after the 48-20 loss to Tech.
While Hudspeth said Broadway is still the team’s unquestioned leader, he still wants more players to step up, and he’s been pleased with how one first-year starter has seized a larger leadership role lately.
“I think of leadership, I think of Larry Pettis,” Hudspeth said of his senior tight end. “He’s a guy, to me, that’s starting to really show his leadership potential. ... That’s been a huge plus seeing that from him.”
Pettis is seeing the first extended playing time of his career in his senior season. He’s surrounded by players who played early, but Pettis has a unique perspective on this Cajuns team.
He knows how fleeting time is.
“The season is flying by, time is short, and I just wanted these guys to have as much fun as I am having,” Pettis said.
Left tackle Mykhael Quave has taken note. He lines up next to Pettis often, and when he starts feeling lethargic, he’ll steal a glance at a hyperactive Pettis for some motivation.
“He’s waited patiently for his time, and now that it’s really here he’s stepped up,” Quave said. “He really leads by example. When everyone is feeling sluggish and tired, he’s always going 100 miles an hour. You just look at that and it rubs off on you, that positive energy that he has.”
Coming into the season, Pettis wasn’t on the leadership radar for many. He’d never started a game on a team full of returning starters.
But with the Cajuns mired in a slump, they have no problem looking Pettis’ way for some motivation — and Pettis is glad to provide the energy.
“If that’s my role to get everybody excited about playing football, to be the igniter, I’ll take that role 100 percent,” Pettis said.
“I think we needed this time to get our bearings. Just to step back and check our momentum, re-evaluate and then get ready for another surge. I thought it came at a very good time regardless of the outcome of the last game. As a staff, I thought we did a good job of putting this last game behind us and moving forward.”
—Hudspeth, on whether the open date came at a good time or if it gave players more time to dwell on bad performances.
Cajuns leading tackler Trae Johnson (knee) was back out at practice in an orange limited contact uniform Tuesday, though Hudspeth said he is not quite at 100 percent yet.
Running back Alonzo Harris (thigh) was also wearing an orange uniform.