Musical chairs is a fun game to play at a carnival or during the halftime break at a basketball game, but ask any coach, playing musical chairs is not a game to play with your quarterbacks.
Yet, whether due to injury, inconsistency and even at times ineffectiveness, musical chairs is exactly what Louisiana-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth has found himself dealing with at quarterback.
Jordan Davis, a fourth-year junior, won the job coming out of the spring and carried that role into the first four games. In his first three starts, Davis had the Cajuns offense rolling, with UL-Lafayette averaging 38 points and averaged 423 yards per game. It seemed that the Cajuns were settling on a quarterback to replace Terrance Broadway, a search that lasted for more than two years.
But late in the second quarter against Texas A&M, Davis injured himself while scrambling. He finished the game and start the next week against Louisiana-Monroe, but it was clear Davis was not himself.
Davis’ injury prompted Hudspeth to pull his starter early against ULM, in favor of junior college transfer Andre Nunez. Nunez led a furious comeback against the Warhawks including a game-tying touchdown pass as time expired.
The following week at Idaho, Nunez came off the bench again to replace Davis, he finished 18 of 24 for 213 yards and one touchdown, but more importantly for Hudspeth and the Cajuns, Nunez led the team to a win, earning a home start against Texas State, a 24-7 Cajuns win.
Suddenly the Cajuns had won two straight with a showdown at Arkansas State looming.
The Thursday road contest got off to about as bad of a start as Hudspeth could have imagined. Nunez was hit and stripped of the ball on the game's third play, the ball was then scooped up and returned for a Red Wolves touchdown. The night did not get any better.
The Cajuns ended up losing 47-3, and Nunez was knocked out with a head injury. Uncertainty remained at the quarterback position, and Hudspeth once again found himself playing musical chairs with his quarterbacks.
“You want to know who your starter is,” Hudspeth said. "This year has been tough, every time you think you get settled in on a guy he gets injured.”
Sixteen days later, UL-Lafayette traveled to face South Alabama. The Monday before true freshman Levi Lewis, whom the Cajuns intended to redshirt, approached Hudspeth and told him he wanted to play. Just like that, the Cajuns had their third starting quarterback.
Lewis led the Cajuns to a win, and while he finished just 8-15 passing, he did toss two touchdown passes and add 129 yards rushing.
The injury bug bit the Cajuns again; this time hitting Lewis in the third quarter at Ole Miss. And just like that, it was Davis’ turn to run the offense again.
“I give (offensive coordinator) Will Hall a lot of credit, Hudspeth said. “He’s developed three quarterbacks who have played at a high level, and that’s not the easiest thing to do, each week having somebody different ready to go.”
With Lewis limited during the week leading up to the New Mexico State game, no one was sure who would get the start against the Aggies. It wasn’t until 20 minutes before kickoff when it was clear that Lewis wasn’t healthy enough to play, so Davis learned he would start.
“Throughout the week me and Levi were splitting reps,” Davis said, “so I was prepping to be the starter just in case I did get that opportunity.”
Davis took the opportunity and ran with it, leading the Cajuns to a 47-34 win, the Cajuns highest offensive output since the UL-Monroe game in late September.
Still, Hudspeth may find himself playing musical chairs, as Lewis status is still undetermined, but it seems at least this time, playing multiple quarterbacks is something Hudspeth has not ruled out.
“Jordan played awfully well,” coach said. “If Levi is completely healthy, we’ll play them both. Jordan showed a lot of poise and played well and deserves to get some playing time if not start.”
So just who will start remains to be seen as Hudspeth declined to comment when asked Monday. The Cajuns host Georgia Southern at 4 p.m. Saturday.