For all the varying styles, schemes and preferences out there, football coaches tend to think alike in certain situations, and Ragin’ Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth is trying to put himself inside Southern coach Dawson Odums’ head before the teams open the season against each other Saturday night.
Hudspeth has been asking himself the following question: If I were breaking in a new quarterback who was starting his first college game on the road, how would I do it?
“I would put more pressure on my other guys,” Hudspeth said. “Do things like sprint-out passes, quick game, screen game and then rely on a really good running game.”
The Jaguars return last season’s leading rusher in Lenard Tillery, who racked up 784 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago despite playing in a pass-first offense. The way Hudspeth sees it, as Southern quarterback Deonte Shorts gets his feet wet, Tillery and the Jaguars’ runners will be the weapons of choice.
“I think their running backs are very good, and I think they’ve got a lot of depth at running back,” Hudspeth said. “We’re going to have to tackle well. ... I would think they are going to come in and try to utilize those running backs. I would think they’re going to try to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quickly.”
Hudspeth didn’t sound as concerned with the offensive game plan.
“We’re going to do what we do,” he said. “We want to get our offense going. We want to play with great tempo, as always — that’s a part of our game. We feel like we’ve got a lot of veterans on the edge and in the backfield. We want to get the ball to those guys and get everybody in a rhythm. But it all starts up front; we want to establish the run, and that’s no secret.”
Worthy looking good
Junior safety T.J. Worthy, who missed an extended period of preseason camp as he recovered from a concussion, has looked explosive to Hudspeth since his return.
“T.J. has been impressive,” Hudspeth said. “You know one reason? Fresh legs. He looks like he might contend for a starting job right now; he’s flying all over the field. He’s still getting caught up with the game plan and he’s a little rusty, but he’s sure moving well. And healthy, he’s cleared 100 percent.”
The line about Worthy competing for a starting job was made in jest — seniors Trevence Patt and Sean Thomas are secure in their starting roles — but a healthy Worthy means a deeper and more versatile secondary.
A couple of players have a chance to move up the ladder in the Cajuns’ career list Saturday, but their quarterback could make the biggest dent.
Terrance Broadway needs just 7 passing yards to move past Jon Van Cleave for fourth in career passing yards, and he needs just 187 to pass Brian Mitchell for third. With 14 completions, Broadway would move past Mitchell into fifth all-time, and with four passing touchdowns, he would move into a tie with Roy Henry for the second-most passing touchdowns.
Senior receiver Jamal Robinson would move into the top 10 in school history with 74 receiving yards, passing former teammate Darryl Surgent.
Free parking, shuttle options
Expecting a large crowd for Saturday’s opener, the UL-Lafayette athletic department has made available free parking and shuttle service for Saturday night’s game.
Fans approaching from the west who exit Interstate 10 at Ambassador Caffery Parkway can park behind South Louisiana Community College, in the lot located near Luke Street. Another option will be behind the Hilton Garden Inn at 2350 West Congress Street.
Motorists coming from the east who exit I-10 at West University Avenue or Evangeline Thruway are encouraged to use parking along Johnston and St. Landry streets.
Shuttles will start at 10 a.m. and end one hour after the game is over. Free parking will be available at most lots on the UL-Lafayette main campus.