Mark Hudsepth: Team soaking in new system _lowres

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK University of Louisiana at Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth works with players during football practice March 8 in Lafayette.

LAFAYETTE — Four practices into the spring, the Louisiana-Lafayette football team is still trying to get a grasp on some of the new offensive concepts the team is planning to unveil this fall.

But the early signs have been positive for coach Mark Hudspeth, even if his players are going through some growing pains as they learn something new.

The coach even went so far as using the “F” word when describing the installation of those new concepts.

“It’s been a lot of fun, to be honest with you, it’s been refreshing,” Hudspeth said. “A whole new system, everybody’s heads are spinning a little bit because of installation. But some of the stuff we’re doing I really like.”

One of the noticeable differences during Tuesday’s practice was the tempo. When the Cajuns ran a team portion near the end of practice, coaches were constantly barking at the players to pick up the pace.

That’s been a little jarring to quarterbacks Jordan Davis and Chris Weaver, who are competing for the starting job this spring, but Hudspeth has still seen things he’s liked from both signal callers.

“Both quarterbacks are throwing the ball really well,” Hudspeth said. “The game is moving a little fast for them. They’ve got to continue slowing that down, but I like the way they’re spinning the ball.”

The Cajuns currently only have three healthy running backs on the roster, as Elijah McGuire’s basketball season is still going and recently converted quarterback Jalen Nixon is recovering from an injury.

Hudspeth said the team has had no football-related contact with McGuire yet, but plans to run him out for spring drills as soon as his basketball season is complete.

“I’m anxious to get McGuire and Nixon back out to really get a good evaluation of the offense with them in it,” Hudspeth said.

Hunt at left guard

The Cajuns are returning four-fifths of their starting offensive line from the end of last season. The lone new face is redshirt freshman Robert Hunt, who is taking reps with the first-team offensive line at left guard.

“He’s a super athletic kid to be that size,” Hudspeth said of the 330-pound Hunt. “He moves well. We’re trying to force-feed him right now. We think he’s got the ability to be a starter. He’s not tabbed a starter yet, he’s just working with the (first team).”

Hudspeth said the coaches envision Hunt as a right tackle in the future, but his size will suit him well on the interior of the offensive line.

On the comeback trail

Receivers Jared Johnson, Jarrod Jackson and Michael Jacquet all missed last season to injury, but all three should be ready to go by the time spring practice wraps up next month.

Johnson is the only one who has not been released to participate in practice, but Jackson and Jacquet have both looked “good” to Hudspeth’s eyes.

Pick to click

Hudspeth singled out senior linebacker Otha Peters as one of the players who has impressed in the short amount of time the coaches have had with players this spring.

“Otha Peters is playing on another level,” Hudspeth said. “He’s having a great camp.”

Peters transferred to the Cajuns after two years at Arkansas. He finished last season, his first with the Cajuns, as the team’s third leading tackler.