LAFAYETTE — The Louisiana-Lafayette football team looked outside to fill its coaching staff. But when selecting an offensive coordinator, it promoted from within.
Jorge Munoz, who spent the past five seasons as the Ragin’ Cajuns’ receivers coach, will ascend to the offensive coordinator position. The Cajuns hired former Southern Miss running backs coach John Simon to take his place coaching the receivers.
The Cajuns have been searching for an offensive coordinator since Jay Johnson accepted the offensive coordinator position at Minnesota in late December.
“I have all the confidence that Jorge will do a great job,” head coach Mark Hudspeth said in a news release. “During this process of interviewing coaches, it became more clear that we already had the best person for the job on staff. Jorge is very creative, diligent and organized. We share a lot of similar ideas and philosophies.”
This upcoming season will be Munoz’s ninth with the Cajuns. He spent three seasons on former coach Rickey Bustle’s staff as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Before the hire was made, Hudspeth indicated that he was contemplating hiring someone from his existing staff to coordinate the offense. Hudspeth also said that if that happened, there was a possibility that he would take over the reins as the play-caller.
“If I (hire from within), obviously I would be highly involved, maybe even the play caller, who knows?” Hudspeth said Jan. 14.
In Simon, the Cajuns found a well-regarded Louisiana native who coached a pair of 1,000-yard rushers last season in Jalen Richard and Ito Smith. He also has some desirable recruiting connections in southeast Louisiana.
“John not only is an excellent teacher, he is an excellent recruiter and will be especially effective in the state of Louisiana, most notably in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans area,” Hudspeth said. “He was a part of one of the most effective scoring offenses in the country last season at Southern Miss.”
Simon inherits one of the youngest and deepest units on the roster.
The Cajuns are bringing back a pair of starters in Al Riles and Gabe Fuselier and will also benefit from the return of 6-foot-5 Jared Johnson from an ACL injury and the development of a talented 2015 freshman class. Only three of the Cajuns’ 12 scholarship wide receivers are entering their senior season.
Those receivers figure to feature prominently in what Hudspeth is promising to be a new-look offense.
Last season was the Cajuns’ worst offensive performance in his tenure. They finished ninth in the Sun Belt in scoring offense (26.4 points per game) and eighth in total offense (380.4 yards).
Hudspeth said he felt the coaches did not do a good job using the strengths of the roster.
“I want to be an open, spread team,” he said last month. “A tempo team. … I want to spread the ball around more than what we’ve done in the past, utilize more of our playmakers, and I want to work on matchups more than what we’ve done in the past. Finding ways to get Eli (McGuire) matched up.”
Now that signing day is in the books and the staff has been finalized, the Cajuns can start to put the pieces together in an effort to bounce back from a disappointing 4-8 season. Spring practice opens March 7.