LAFAYETTE — After winning its fourth consecutive New Orleans Bowl title last year, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette football team will have a bit of a new look to it this season.
Gone are a number of players who helped establish the program’s strong foundation as members of coach Mark Hudspeth’s first recruiting class in 2011. In their place are a handful of players who have flashed ability but have yet to have been afforded the opportunity to prove themselves on the field.
Those players take their first step toward establishing their own identity Tuesday, as the Cajuns open their 2015 spring camp. Here are three key positions to keep an eye on throughout spring camp.
Terrance Broadway was the Cajuns starting quarterback in three of their four New Orleans Bowl wins and held a number of school records. But the Cajuns have plenty of options when it comes to replacing No. 8’s production on the field.
The early leader appears to be redshirt junior Brooks Haack, who performed admirably in limited playing time last season, completing 20 of 23 passes for 179 yards and two scores.
Despite his success a year ago, Haack will have to beat out a couple of others for the starting job. Jalen Nixon was suspended for the first six games of last season, but he fits Broadway’s dual-threat mode and is in the mix for the starting race, as is redshirt freshman Jordan Davis.
Haack is more mobile than some give him credit for, but he doesn’t have the elusiveness and speed Broadway brought to the table last year. It’s conceivable, if not likely, that the Cajuns could implement packages to take advantage of Nixon’s mobility.
Interior offensive line
The Cajuns lost a pair of starters on the offensive line in right guard Daniel Quave and center Terry Johnson. While they’ve got plenty of overall experience coming back on the line, they’ll need some players to step up on the interior.
Donovan Williams started every game a year ago and appears to be cemented in at one guard spot. Williams emerged late in last year’s fall camp to unseat Eddie Gordon, who lost out on a camp competition for the starting center position.
Gordon should have a leg up on the starting center job for now.
Things are a little murkier at guard. Because of Quave’s durability at the position, the Cajuns haven’t rotated many players through the spot. The will likely depend on youth for now.
One thing to keep an eye on: Senior Mykhael Quave has started every game the past two years at left tackle, but he could move inside this season.
Graduation put a big dent on the Cajuns defensive backfield, as the Cajuns will have to replace production from Trevence Patt, Corey Trim and Sean Thomas, who combined for nine of the team’s 21 interceptions the past three seasons.
The Cajuns appear to be set at safety, where sophomores Tracy Walker and Travis Crawford appear to have solid holds on starting jobs. But there should be competition on the outside.
Back are Jevante Watson, Dom Jones and Troy McCollum, who all played with varying degrees of success last season.
But the Cajuns also have an influx of new players at the position, including junior-college transfer Christian Goodlett and early enrollee Kamar Greenhouse. And they are high on 6-foot-3 junior Simeon Thomas, who was not eligible to play last year.