Sun Belt Media Day: Ragin’ Cajuns trade weight of preseason expectations for a hefty chip on their shoulders _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- UL-Lafayette football coach Mark Hudspeth at the 2015 Sun Belt Conference Media Day at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome July 20, 2015.

The Louisiana-Lafayette football team’s preseason practice starts in a little less than two weeks, but don’t expect coach Mark Hudspeth to be quick about making a decision about his starting quarterback.

In fact, don’t expect him to make a decision at all during the preseason about whether Brooks Haack, Jalen Nixon or Jordan Davis will be taking the starter’s reps — at least not publicly.

Hudspeth made it clear he’s not planning on showing his hand to season-opening opponent Kentucky until the very last moment.

“We’ve got three candidates,” Hudspeth said with a grin. “Don’t ask me today who the starter is going to be. When you find out will be the same time Mark Stoops at Kentucky finds out: when we run out on the field for the first play of the game.”

Whether Hudspeth and the Cajuns can actually pull off that feat is another matter entirely. Hudspeth seemed aware of this.

Considering today’s social-media driven world, Hudspeth said he’s going to be selectively secretive when dispersing information about his starting signal caller.

“The quarterbacks will know, I will know, (offensive coordinator Jay Johnson) will know. Those are probably the only four people that will know,” said Hudspeth, who may have inadvertently doled out information that one of the three quarterbacks is already eliminated with his count. “As much as some of our players tweet out, I don’t know if I’ll let some of our other players know.”

All of that being said, Hudspeth said he honestly hadn’t made a decision yet.

“We have not made a decision, and that’s the honest truth there,” Hudspeth said. “All three quarterbacks will get a chance to compete for the starting job, will get an opportunity to go with the (starters). They have all three worked hard this summer, and they all three deserve this opportunity.”

And when he does make a decision?

Expect to find that one out Sept. 5, the first Saturday of the college football season.

“Football is about deception,” Hudspeth said. “That’s one area of deception that hopefully will be somewhat of an advantage. You need all the advantage that you can get these days in college football.”

McGuire gets top nod

In the least shocking news of the day, Cajuns junior running back Elijah McGuire was named the Sun Belt’s preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

McGuire took the postseason honor last year when he ran for 1,264 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore. He’s the second straight Cajuns player to be named the preseason player of the year; quarterback Terrance Broadway was honored last season.

McGuire was the Cajuns’ only first-teamer, but six of his teammates landed on the second team: wide receiver Jamal Robinson, offensive linemen Octravian Anderson and Mykhael Quave, linebackers Darzil Washington (at defensive line) and Dominique Tovell and defensive back Tracy Walker.

What’s the true cost?

Hudspeth was asked whether the Cajuns being one of the SBC schools offering its student-athletes a cost of attendance stipend provided an advantage when it came to recruiting. Hudspeth wasn’t sure, saying it has not come up yet in his conversations with recruits.

“I still think student-athletes are going to make the decision about their next four or five years on the university itself, on the people itself, on the opportunities themselves — and not just because of a little extra stipend on top of the scholarship,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ve always been a proponent of (the stipend), but I’m anxious to see how it works out. If it’s a plus for our student-athletes, I’m always for it. I just hope it is a plus for our student-athletes and they use it in a way that’s beneficial for them.”