Jordan Davis emerges as leader for Cajuns’ starting quarterback spot _lowres

Advocate photo by PAUL KIEU -- Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns quarterback Jordan Davis throws during the Louisiana-Lafayette football spring game on April 16, 2016 at Cajun Field in Lafayette.

LAFAYETTE — After getting a couple of days to think it over and look at the film from Saturday’s spring game, Louisiana-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth decided he does have a leader in the race to be the starting quarterback this fall.

“Jordan Davis is the leader right now at the quarterback spot,” Hudspeth said. “Just based on the spring game, at that time I wasn’t ready to name a starter. We’ve got to meet offensively these next two weeks, see where we’re at, see what we need to do.

“But he is the leader coming out of spring camp.”

Of course, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Davis has taken all of the first team practice repetitions this fall and worked with the first-team offense in the spring game, where he went 12-of-21 for 87 yards.

But in the immediate aftermath of the spring game, Hudspeth wasn’t ready to say who was in front in the quarterback competition.

“To be honest with you, after today I’m not ready to name a starter,” Hudspeth said after Saturday’s game. “Can’t do it after today. We’ve got to go back and keep working. Both of these guys are young.”

But with a couple of days to think it over, Hudspeth looked at all of the circumstances in play and reconsidered.

“Jordan led the whole spring,” Hudspeth said. “He had a really good spring, probably didn’t have the spring game that I would’ve liked for him to have. But if you go back and look at the game … we limited what we were doing offensively. Some things that he was doing really good, we didn’t allow him to do it.

Hudspeth said the fact that Davis was off-limits to defenders when it came to contact did not work in Davis’ favor either, because he wasn’t able to show off his elusiveness when defenders were given credit for a tackle by touching him. Hudspeth also brought up the wind, which all the quarterbacks had to deal with.

All that added up to it being, in Hudspeth’s words, “a little bit better than I initially thought. … But he’s still got to improve.”

But this is not to say that Davis is locked in to be the starting quarterback when Boise State visits Cajun Field on Sept. 3 for the season opener.

Hudspeth clarified the difference between being the leader after the spring and being named the starter.

“I guess I’m just letting him know that he’s not so far in the lead where he can’t be overtaken,” Hudspeth said. “Chris Weaver was pretty good during that game.”

So was fellow redshirt freshman Dion Ray, who earned some glowing praise from Hudspeth Tuesday.

The knock on Ray has been his throwing arm, which has largely kept him out of the race for the starting quarterback job. But he impressed Hudspeth this spring with his ability to make things happen.

“He actually, for the limited reps he played in the red and white game, might’ve been the most productive,” Hudspeth said. “He had a lot of big plays this spring, he’s just got to improve in the passing game. He’s a guy that can hurt you with your legs.”

One player who looks like he won’t be in the mix for the starting quarterback position is Jalen Nixon, whom Hudspeth effectively ruled out in the competition outside of an emergency situation later this year.

Nixon started four games last season, throwing for 828 yards and a team-best seven touchdown passes while adding 406 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

Hudspeth said before spring practice began that Nixon would be switched to running back, but after an injury kept him out of practice for the first few weeks, the Cajuns put him back at quarterback to reduce the contact he’d have to take.

With Davis, Weaver and Ray all developing according to schedule this spring, Hudspeth said Nixon would’ve been relegated to backup status, and he needs him elsewhere.

“If he’s a backup quarterback, he just can’t help us enough,” Hudspeth said. “He’s a guy that can go in the game though if we had to have him because of injury. He’d be a pretty good option.

“I need him more on the field in a bigger role. I’ve got to find him a place to play – special teams, possibly on defense, maybe on offense at running back. We’re waiting to see how that might shake down.”

Cajuns spring awards

OFFENSIVE MVP (spring game)

White: WR Michael Jacquet

Red: OLs Eddie Gordon, Grant Horst

DEFENSIVE MVP (spring game)

White: DB Simeon Thomas

Red: LB Joe Dillon

MOST IMPROVED (scholarship)

QB Dion Ray, RB Jordan Wright, OL Robert Hunt, WR Devin Scott, TE Matthew Barnes, DL Mario Osborne, CB Lorenzo Cryer, S Travis Crawford, N/D Terik Miller, ILB Alonzo Brown, ST Stevie Artigue

MOST IMPROVED (developmental)

QB Gunner Hudspeth, WR Chris Collins, LB Shay LaPorte, LB Angus Sinclair, DB Errol Brown

MOST UNSELFISH

WR Jerrell Richardson, DB Ashton Johnson, LB Terrence Jones