LAFAYETTE — For the first time in a couple years, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s football team will be making a change at the most important position on the field.
The Cajuns have had stability at the quarterback position for the past three years, with senior quarterback Terrance Broadway firmly establishing himself as the starter after the early portion of the 2012 season.
While they’ll find themselves in a little bit of unfamiliar territory, the Cajuns are confident they’ll find a viable replacement among their returning players.
Broadway is the only member of this group who will not return. He’s a two-time New Orleans Bowl Most Valuable Player and the Cajuns all-time leader in total offense.
Broadway won’t be easy to replace, not only because of his ability as a player but because of what he’s meant to this team for the past several years as a leader.
Whoever steps into Broadway’s shoes is going to have to assert himself on a team that will be looking for the on-field guidance that Broadway consistently brought.
Broadway’s on-field performance sagged a bit in his senior season, as he couldn’t get the passing game going after senior receiver Jamal Robinson went down for the season with injury.
But Broadway had an effective season as a runner, and that somewhat minimized his difficulties in the passing game.
It won’t be easy, but the Cajuns have been bracing for this moment, though.
Who’s coming back?
Brooks Haack figures to have the leg up to replace Broadway in the starting lineup, and after watching the way he performed in limited duty, it makes sense.
Haack played in six games, and completed 20 of 23 passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions. What’s more, Haack came in cold against Georgia State and led the Cajuns most of the way down the field on what proved to be a game-winning drive.
Despite how well Haack played in relief of Broadway this season, coach Mark Hudspeth isn’t ready to just hand the reins over to him.
Hudspeth said near the end of the season that he would leave the position open for competition in the spring. Haack will have to fend off Jalen Nixon, a local kid who is the closest to Broadway of the bunch, Jordan Davis and Daron Populist.
Nixon and Haack, both of whom will be juniors, could conceivably share snaps. Haack is the more accomplished passer, but Nixon is best athlete of the bunch and would make for a lethal combination with rising junior running back Elijah McGuire on the read option.
Davis is the wild card. He has ideal size and might have the best overall skill base. But his youth puts him at a disadvantage. Haack and Nixon have both been through the fire, and we’ve yet to see how Davis responds in those situations.
Populist was mentioned by Hudspeth as someone who would be given an opportunity to compete for the job, but he’s facing long odds. He needs to improve over the spring and summer.
Concern level: Low
Losing Broadway hurts. His name is all over the Cajuns all-time record books. But the Cajuns like all the options they have coming back, and they’re confident they’ll be able to settle on the right guy to lead the offense.
This is the first in a series analyzing the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s positional outlook for next season. Here are the positions coming up:
WEDNESDAY: Offensive skill players
THURSDAY: Offensive linemen
FRIDAY: Front seven
SATURDAY: Defensive backfield