UL-Lafayette’s backup is the latest in a line of Hudspeth QBs to replace injured starters
LAFAYETTE — Although he wasn’t expecting it, Mark Hudspeth is no stranger to the situation his Louisiana-Lafayette football team now encounters.
In 2011, it was Blaine Gautier replacing an injured Chris Masson. Last season, Terrance Broadway took over for an injured Gautier.
Now it’s sophomore Brooks Haack making his first career start at quarterback for a sidelined Broadway when the Cajuns meet South Alabama on Saturday night in Mobile, Ala., for the regular-season finale.
None of Hudspeth’s starting quarterbacks has ever finished a regular season uninjured.
Haack threw seven passes this season before his appearance last week against Louisiana-Monroe. He replaced Broadway, who is one of only three quarterbacks in school history to throw for more than 5,000 yards and run for another 1,000 during a career.
Broadway is out indefinitely because of a fractured an bone above the wrist, which he suffered in the fourth quarter of last Saturday’s 31-28 loss to ULM.
UL-Lafayette (8-3, 5-1) needs a win over South Alabama (5-6, 3-3) to claim the school’s first outright Sun Belt Conference football championship.
A loss by the Cajuns means that UL-Lafayette will share the conference championship with Arkansas State, which ended the regular season with a 5-2 league record.
So how will Haack respond to the situation?
Don’t try to ask him, because Haack is off limits to reporters this week.
Hudspeth, however, said Haack has given him indications he will handle his responsibilities just fine.
“People ask me, ‘How do you think (Haack) will do?’ I tell them, ‘You tell me,’ ” Hudspeth said. “You saw him out there on the field (against ULM) as well as I did.”
In last week’s game, Haack led the Cajuns on drives that ended in a 48-yard missed field goal by Stephen Brachule and a 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jamal Robinson with 53 seconds left.
Another potential drive was thwarted when the Cajuns failed to recover an onside kick following Robinson’s touchdown.
South Alabama leads the conference in sacks — not exactly good news for a first-time starter — but UL-Lafayette offensive lineman Mykhael Quave said that means more protection from the blockers.
“As an O-line, we have full confidence in Brooks,” Quave said. “He can do everything he needs to do and we have our full trust in him. He can carry out the job like Broadway.
“We can see that just in (Haack’s) demeanor and poise that he had in the situation that he was in (against ULM). He showed us some leadership skills. ... We didn’t have to do anything extra to give him that confidence.”
Quave said the linemen are aware of the Jaguars’ ability to sack quarterbacks this season and are taking the steps not to let that happen to Haack.
“With all those sacks, it means that they are doing something special,” Quave said. “We will look at the film and find a way to make sure that we give Brooks time to make him avoid that pressure.”
Quave said Haack’s actions spoke of a confident player who was in control against ULM.
“The thing I saw is that (Haack) stands well in the pocket and he doesn’t have the happy feet and he’s not dancing around back there,” Quave said.
Hudspeth said he left Cajun Field Saturday night impressed with the way Haack handled a difficult situation.
“I thought he executed and managed the game well,” Hudspeth said. “I though most importantly, (Haack) looked calm in the pocket. This week, we are not putting the whole game on his shoulders. We’re going to be putting that on the rest of the team.”
Despite the lack of playing time at UL-Lafayette, Hudspeth said Haack — who played at Katy High School, a Texas football powerhouse just west of Houston — isn’t new to big-game situations.
“I know the coaches were talking about this after the game, that when he came to the sidelines for a timeout, (Haack) was talking to them and talking to the receivers about plays that had happened. I thought he showed some great poise,” Hudspeth said. “He has some different skills sets (than Broadway), but he can still run the ball, throw deep and use the play-action pass.”
Having Haack start may also provide the Cajuns with somewhat of a strategic advantage, since there is not much film on him, said Hudspeth.
Hudspeth said he’s optimistic Broadway will return in time to play in the Cajuns’ Dec. 21 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl against Tulane.
The bone break was very small, Hudspeth said, but the coach gave no timetable for Broadway’s return.