Louisiana-Lafayette will look to accomplish something it has never done when it travels to face South Alabama on Saturday.
If the Ragin' Cajuns are able to win in Ladd-Peebles Stadium, they would do more than get back on track following an ugly 47-3 loss at Arkansas State last time out. The Cajuns also would earn their first victory against the Jaguars in Mobile.
The Cajuns lead the all-time series 3-2, but coach Mark Hudspeth is well aware they have yet to leave Mobile victorious.
“We've had five really competitive contests with these guys in the last five years," Hudspeth said Monday. “It's always been a tough challenge to go there and play.”
Adding to the challenge is that South Alabama (3-5, 2-2 Sun Belt Conference) has had an eerily similar season to the Cajuns (3-4, 2-2), making it hard for UL-Lafayette to know exactly what to expect from coach Joey Jones’ Jaguars. Will it be the team that won two straight conference games, including a road game at rival Troy, or will it be the Jaguars who forced Jones to fire offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent in late September?
While Hudspeth can’t be sure which South Alabama team will show up, he is sure the Jaguars are talented on both sides of the football.
“They've got an outstanding team; I really feel like you look at their record, don't let that fool you.” Hudspeth said, adding, “They sort of reminded me a little bit of ourselves. They've played really well at times and had a quality win.”
Assessing the quarterbacks
While he has not yet named a starting quarterback, Hudspeth insinuated that Jordan Davis would get the nod under center.
“With Jordan practicing really well last night, he should get the start on Saturday,” Hudspeth said.
Junior-college transfer Andre Nunez started the previous two games against Texas State and Arkansas State but was forced to leave the Arkansas State game with a head injury. That forced Nunez to miss all three of the Cajuns' open-week practices, giving Davis an opportunity to take all of the first-team reps.
In addition to using the 16-day layoff to get healthy, the Cajuns also took the opportunity to get back in the classroom. The Cajuns have played four of their first seven games on the road — with three trips still to come — and Hudspeth said that can take a toll on academics.
“When you have seven road games, you miss seven classes ... that's a lot of missed classes," he said. "Hopefully moving forward, we don't have near as many road games in the future. But being able to catch up to catch up academically, that was big."
Hudspeth will coach against one of his former players when the Cajuns and Jaguars square off. Lance Ancar, in his first year as South Alabama's strength and conditioning coach, played for Hudspeth for four years at North Alabama.
Ancar was a four-year starter at center for Hudspeth, winning the Rimington Trophy for being the top center in Division II.