LAFAYETTE — On a blustery, overcast day at Cajun Field, it wasn’t always pretty for the Louisiana-Lafayette football team during its spring game.
The game’s first snap resulted in a lost fumble by sophomore quarterback Jordan Davis. Neither Davis nor redshirt freshman Chris Weaver, the quarterbacks engaged in a battle for the starting job, was particularly effective. Three kickers combined to miss half of their six field-goal attempts.
But the most important number for coach Mark Hudspeth at the end of the day was 0 — the number of players who were injured in the split-squad contest won 20-10 by the White team.
“We are healthy; that was the number one thing,” Hudspeth said.
As for the rest? Hudspeth said he was disappointed in the effort from his competing quarterbacks despite the fact they were working with a limited playbook, encouraged by a solid day from redshirt freshman running back Jordan Wright and impressed with the way his defense played.
It wasn’t always pretty, but all things considered, Hudspeth found Saturday to be a success.
First, the quarterbacks: Hudspeth said earlier in the week that he would have liked to at least name a leader in the competition going into the summer, but he was unable to do that after the way Saturday unfolded.
“To be honest with you, after today I’m not ready to name a starter,” Hudspeth said. “Can’t do it after today. We’ve got to go back and keep working. Both of these guys are young.”
Davis, working with the Red team and running what was essentially the first-team offense, was 12-of-21 for 87 yards with a long of 17. Weaver, guiding the White team, was 13-of-23 for 123 yards with a long of 16, but he was sacked five times.
Both young quarterbacks looked harried by the pass rush at times.
“Both quarterbacks seemed to press the panic button a little too early from time to time,” Hudspeth said. “We’ve got to be a little more accurate on the short throws than I thought we were today.”
They both led a pair of scoring drives. Davis guided a 14-play, 68-yard drive after a missed field goal in the first quarter that stalled at the 10-yard line, and he also led a 17-play, 85-yard touchdown drive in the fourth that he kept alive with a 17-yard strike to Keenan Barnes on third-and-11.
Weaver led the game’s first touchdown drive with a 75-yard march that ended with a Darius Hoggins 5-yard touchdown run with 46 seconds left in the first. He was 4-for-4 for 34 yards on the drive.
Neither was able to connect on anything downfield, with most of their completed passes traveling fewer than 10 yards.
“I don’t think we threw the ball or handled the ball very well, and I don’t think we threw the ball very well in the wind,” Hudspeth said.
The most impressive offensive performers were running backs Wright and Hoggins. Wright showed speed and strength while running for a game-high 88 yards on 19 carries, capping a strong showing in spring practice.
“Jordan Wright has shown us what he could do all spring, and I think he’s going to be a guy we can really count on,” Hudspeth said.
Wright said the experience he received in the spring running with the first-team offense while Elijah McGuire was with the basketball team and Jalen Nixon was out with an injury was invaluable.
Those practice snaps are likely to be limited once the preseason rolls around and McGuire, who was held out Saturday for precautionary reasons, once again takes the reins. He’ll also have to share with Nixon, Hoggins and a pair of highly touted signees, Trey Ragas and Raymond Calais. But he’s not changing his goal after Saturday’s performance.
“My mentality is to show why I should be on the field,” he said. “Just work hard every day and show the coaches why I should be on the field. ... My goal going into it was to be the No. 2 running back, and that’s still going to be my goal.”
Hoggins finished with 85 yards and two touchdowns, the last of which might have been the best offensive play of the day: It was a 26-yard scamper when he juked a defender in the backfield.
Although the defense also was working with a limited playbook, Hudspeth said he was pleased with the way it played. Missed tackles and big plays frequently burned the Cajuns last season, but those areas appeared to be strengths Saturday.
“I thought the defense tackled, man,” Hudspeth said. “I thought that was much better. We flew to the ball. That was encouraging, to see our defense play much better.”
Reserve quarterback Gunner Hudspeth led two fourth-quarter scoring drives to win the game for the White squad. He completed passes of 30 and 24 yards, the longest completions of the day, but the thing that had his coach/father beaming was his situational awareness.
“I was really proud of the guy,” Mark Hudspeth said. “He moved the ball and completed his passes. The best play he made, though, was sliding and not throwing the ball away, keeping the clock running. I was like, ‘Wow, that was a really good play.’ ”
Spring practice has concluded for the Cajuns, who resume practice in August.