LAFAYETTE — We media types are insatiable creatures.
We went into Wednesday’s Louisiana-Lafayette Media Day knowing there wouldn’t be answers with regard to who the starting quarterback may be this season, but we came armed to the teeth with questions anyway.
This line of questioning will be the new normal for coach Mark Hudspeth and the quarterbacks competing for the job, right up until foot meets football in Lexington, Kentucky, on Sept. 5. Not only will they be engaged in a camp competition, but they will encounter inquisitive minds trying to glean some tidbit of information that could point toward who will play the most important position on the field.
Even after reiterating there was no frontrunner during his opening statement, the first four questions Hudspeth received were about the quarterbacks, including one from yours truly.
Let’s look at his answers and translate them into something that may make clear how this will play out — though to his credit, Hudspeth was pretty straightforward.
Question 1: Are there any steps the three have taken since a starter hasn’t been named?
Hudspeth’s answer: “I think they’ve all somewhat tried to prepare like a starting quarterback, and that’s what we expect of them. That’s what (offensive coordinator Jay) Johnson expects of them. Guys that are going to be in the film room, guys that you don’t have to say, ‘Go watch film.’ Guys that are starters, guys who prepare to be starters, they’re watching film, they’re getting extra work, they’re taking care of their bodies, they’re doing the right things.
“That’s the thing that’s probably set some of them a little ahead of others. Some of them are preparing like starters. I think we’re going to have a good competition.”
Translation: Every little thing they do — how they carry themselves, how they interact with their teammates, how they eat — will be observed and catalogued for reference when decision time comes around. You better put that ice cream down, son, and get in the film room.
Question 2: How do you plan to divvy up the time with the first team among those three?
Hudspeth’s answer: “Yeah, that’ll be a challenge. You know, they’ll all get time with the ones, they’ll all get time with the twos. So you’re going to have three quarterbacks all splitting time with the ones, but somebody’s got to go with the twos. They need the reps. If you’re just letting all three go with the ones, then the reps are really going to diminish. They’ll all have to roll a little bit, some with the twos, some with the ones.
“When they get their opportunity in scrimmages though? That’s when they’ll have to make the most of their opportunities, because we want them all to be able to go with the ones in the scrimmages to evaluate how they can move the ball, how they can take care of the ball, how they can execute. That’ll be critical for them to make the most of every repetition.”
Translation: There’s not nearly enough reps to go around for three quarterbacks, so someone’s quickly going to be the odd man out. A handful of bad plays or practices could cost you reps, and subsequently, a job. I ever tell you how much I love pressure cookers?
Question 3: It seems like all three have different skill sets. Over the course of camp, as one starts to separate himself, do you tailor the offense toward him?
Hudspeth’s answer: “Me and coach Johnson talked about that. Our offense is set up to tailor toward any of those guys. But, you know, our offense is built that if one of them’s a little better runner, then we can get a little more run-oriented in calling things, because our offense has a lot of calls for a running quarterback. But if one of them is a little better thrower, then our offense is also built for a guy who can throw the football.
“It’ll end up gravitating a little more, either way, based on who wins the job. But they still all fit in what we’re doing offensively.”
Translation: Our offensive focus will depend on which quarterback is in the game, meaning our game plan will depend on which quarterback is in the game, meaning we’ll have to reach a decision fairly soon to implement that game plan.
Question 4: Do you have a goal for what time you want to reach a decision?
Hudspeth’s answer: “I know we would like to have it much sooner than later. To me, I’m hoping after two weeks of camp, we’ll know, or at least have a gut feeling to make a decision and start letting this guy get more repetition. Because we’ll get into Kentucky preparation two weeks before the game, and when we get into that mode, we really need to have an idea.
“It might not be a super clear-cut picture, but if one is a little ahead of the other, then we’ll have to gravitate toward getting that player ready to go. But that’s not saying two couldn’t play, or if one’s not getting it done the other wouldn’t get an opportunity.”
Translation: I’ll know the starter pretty soon out of necessity, but you and Kentucky are still going to be kept in the dark. But the leash is probably going to be short. Shoot, we might not even reach a consensus for Week 2!