University of Louisiana at Lafayette football coach Mark Hudspeth had to call for his own substitution off the Cajuns bench Monday, tabbing assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator Reed Stringer to handle duties at his weekly media luncheon.
Hudspeth was busy at Lafayette General Medical Center, where wife, Tyla, gave birth to their fourth child Monday afternoon — ironically, on Hudspeth’s 46th birthday.
“It’s not my birthday today, and I’m not having a baby,” Stringer said. “I’ve got three at home, so I’m good.”
Things were also good around the rest of the UL-Lafayette program Monday. The Cajuns extended their win streak to five games with Saturday’s 44-16 road thumping of New Mexico State and are beginning preparations for a Saturday road contest at state rival UL-Monroe.
“Any conference road game victory is a big win,” Stringer said. “It’s a unique place, none of our coaches and players had ever been there, but our guys went there focused and played well.”
UL-Lafayette got three touchdown passes from Terrance Broadway, two on end-zone fade routes to sophomore wide out Jared Johnson, and Elijah McGuire ran for 136 yards and had scores both rushing and receiving.
The Cajuns defense forced a season-high four turnovers, including three interceptions, two by freshman safety Tracy Walker.
“Everybody’s playing disciplined football,” said Walker, who made his fourth straight start a memorable one. “I was sort of sitting back, and all of a sudden there’s the ball. On defense you have to react, it’s a reaction game.”
The offensive unit, which had only one touchdown in six red-zone trips in the previous week’s 19-9 win over South Alabama, was six-for-six on red-zone touchdowns against the Aggies.
“That felt great,” Johnson said. “I had a chance to make a play and I felt like I could make it.”
Stringer said the Cajuns (6-3, 5-0 Sun Belt) will need just as many plays during Saturday’s 6 p.m. contest at Malone Stadium against the Warhawks (3-6, 2-3). But he said there should be no motivation problems, after ULM snapped the Cajuns’ eight-game win streak last year with a 31-28 win at Cajun Field.
“That was senior night, and they came in and beat us, and it left a sour taste in our mouth,” he said. “We’d locked up a share of the conference title and had gotten invited to a bowl game, and we couldn’t crack a smile.”
They already had a Gunner and a Major, and now they have a Captain.
Captain Ty Hudspeth was born Monday afternoon, weighing in at seven pounds, 15 ounces and measuring 19 inches. He joins older brothers Gunner (17) and Major (3) and sister Carley (14) in the Hudspeth household. Mother Tyla and baby were reported doing well Monday evening.
Stringer said during the early stages of labor, Hudspeth had a laptop at the hospital and was looking at film of ULM. He said by noon, Hudspeth had already sent a couple of messages describing formations he liked for Saturday’s game.
“As football coaches, you try to plan it out, but sometimes it doesn’t work,” Stringer said. “Family comes first in this program, always has. We’re excited for him and Tyla. He’ll be back ready to go (Tuesday) afternoon with the team.”
The Cajuns held their normal Sunday evening practice and as usual had Monday off. Practice resumes at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Running back Alonzo Harris was on the trip and dressed but did not play against New Mexico State. Stringer said Harris could have seen action had he been needed, and expects the senior to return this week.
“He understands he wasn’t full speed,” Stringer said. “Kids want to play and that’s why they’re all-conference players. We felt after the USA game when he tried to give it a go, that we knew we were going to need him 100 percent going down the stretch. When he’s healthy and physical he’s a weapon.”
McGuire has carried 44 times and caught 10 passes in the past two games in Harris’ absence, while Effrem Reed had a season-high 11 carries for 65 yards and freshman Darrius Hoggins had five carries including his first career touchdown.
Jump ball Jared
Johnson had one earlier touchdown catch this year before his two-touchdown game at New Mexico State, both of which came on fade routes in the end zone.
“The first one was supposed to be a running play,” the 6-foot-6 Johnson said. “(Quarterback) Terrance (Broadway) gave me a hand signal that we do, and I knew what he wanted and it went from there.”
That five-yard toss gave the Cajuns the lead for good at 7-3 late in the first quarter. His second grab, and Broadway’s third touchdown pass, was a 9-yarder in the first minute of the fourth period.
“The second was a called play,” Stringer said. “We’d wanted to throw it to Jared against South Alabama (during the previous week’s 19-9 win), and that led to us doing it this week. He’s a weapon down there, and the more people pay attention to him and get out of the box, that just helps our running game.”