LAKE CHARLES — Nicholls State coach Charlie Stubbs had more bad luck than he could have imagined during last season.
Take, for example, his situation at quarterback.
Kalen Henderson, then a junior, had compiled 260 total yards at Oregon and seemed ready to take over as the starter after battling for the job throughout preseason camp.
In his next start against FBS opponent Western Michigan, Henderson came out red-hot, completing eight of 11 passes for 159 yards while rushing for 87 yards and a touchdown and leading Nicholls to a 21-9 lead in the first half.
Then just before halftime, Henderson went down with an apparent leg injury.
He suffered a broken fibula, forcing him to miss the next month.
Stubbs’ hand was forced: He had to play sophomore Tuskani Figaro, who had only two passing attempts and 29 carries to that point. In fact, he
was supposed to redshirt last season — but instead, he was immediately thrust into the starting job, responsible for starting the Colonels’ Southland Conference schedule on a high note.
Figaro responded by performing at a high level. He threw for 1,135 yards and eight touchdowns while rushing for a program-record 1,103 yards and seven scores. As a team, the Colonels finished 4-8 overall and 1-6 in Southland play.
Now with both quarterbacks healthy — plus senior Breaux Hebert, who has battled injuries throughout his Nicholls career and has seen action in 18 games since 2011 — Stubbs will have key evaluations to make throughout fall camp.
“These guys are not the caliber of Steve Youngs and all that kind of stuff, but they’re very competitive,” Stubbs said. “I feel like we’ll have very talented quarterback play. I really believe that’ll be a good group, and I feel like the other guys will follow.”
Stubbs said he has a starter in mind, though he’s open to one of the other quarterbacks winning the job.
“Going into fall camp, Tuskani will be our No. 1 to start off with,” Stubbs said. “The hardest thing is having enough reps to get them ready, but I’m going to have to make some tough decisions, and they know that.”
Because of Figaro’s dual-threat ability, Stubbs said he wants to involve the junior in the Colonels’ offense however he can.
Figaro has scored 10 touchdowns on the ground during his two seasons at Nicholls, averaging 6.3 yards per carry along the way.
“We’re going to play a two-quarterback system if I have to in order to get Tuskani and Kalen on the field at the same time,” Stubbs said. “The thing about coaching is that you have to get the best 11 guys on the field, so I’m going to find a way to create some touches.”