LAFAYETTE — Though University of Louisiana at Lafayette football coach Mark Hudspeth is sticking to his guns and not giving any hints about who his starting quarterback will be for the season opener, he didn’t shy away from detailing what he is looking for at the position.
The Cajuns will scrimmage Tuesday, and Hudspeth hopes the combination of the scrimmage and a few weeks of preseason practice will be enough to determine a starter. The quarterbacks would do well to avoid interceptions.
“I want a quarterback that’s not going to turn the ball over, period,” Hudspeth said. “That’s the No. 1 thing for us. We’ve got quality enough players that if he can just get the ball to our playmakers, whether it’s a handoff or him running the ball and not turning it over, or making decisions in the passing game — just take care of the football.
“If we do that, if we can lead the country in fewest turnovers, we’ll have a chance to win a lot of games. But when you turn the ball over a lot, you put your defense in bad positions.”
Last season, much of the Cajuns’ poor start could be attributed to turnovers. The Cajuns finished nonconference play with a 1-3 record and a minus-9 turnover margin.
The sloppy play not only ended drives early and killed scoring chances, it put the defense in compromised positions.
“Any defense is a good defense when (the offense has) to drive 80 (yards) every time,” Hudspeth said. “There’s nothing wrong with punting every once in a while. Punt it deep, make them go 80. That’s the whole key. Don’t give them a short field, (because) the chances of scoring go up tremendously.”
As the first of two Monday practices was winding down, freshman wide receiver Keenan Barnes came up limping after extending for a ball near the sidelines during a team drill.
Barnes appeared to walk it off afterward, and Hudspeth said his first priority after his media obligation was to find out the severity of the injury.
With Jared Johnson and Lance Pace already lost for the year, Barnes is expected to play a large role in his debut season with the Cajuns.
“I just threw my script up in the air,” Hudspeth said about his reaction when he saw Barnes limp. “I’ve just never seen it. These guys are just going more reps. We’ve got receivers down everywhere.
“We’ve got to be smart, because we’ve got to be able to practice and we’ve got to get our playmakers to the game, and you’ve got to get your work in. There’s a fine balance, and sometimes that balance is not easy to maintain.”
Freshman lineman out
Freshman offensive lineman Robert Hunt, who had been drawing praise from Hudspeth for his performance in the opening week of preseason practice, will miss the next month with an undisclosed injury.
“Robert Hunt is going to be out for about four weeks,” Hudspeth said. “He’s getting limited and not getting any reps right now, but we fully expect him back. If he was healthy right now I think, for sure, he’d be running with the twos.”
The 6-foot-5 lineman came to the Cajuns from Burkesville, Texas, where he was a two-time all-district performer in both football and basketball.
White stripe army
Freshmen Chris Weaver and Deuce Wallace became the latest Cajuns newcomers to earn their white helmet stripe after Monday morning’s practice.
All Cajuns newcomers wear a black helmet stripe until they’ve proven they can be a contributing member of the team through “work ethic, being on time and doing the right things,” Hudspeth said.
Players can’t dress out on the sidelines or travel with the team until they’ve earned the white stripe. Weaver and Wallace joined Terik Miller, Gunner Hudspeth, Keenan Barnes, Mario Osborne and Terrence Jones as players who have earned the white stripe.