Cajuns seek leaders at linebacker and center this spring

LAFAYETTE — Once again, the Louisiana-Lafayette football team enters spring practice searching for quarterbacks.

No, not the type of quarterback who takes the snap from underneath center or from shotgun or pistol formations.

Instead, the type of quarterbacks who concern UL-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth as the Cajuns begin the first of 15 spring practices today, play center and at inside linebacker.

In UL-Lafayette’s offensive and defensive systems, inside linebackers act as defensive quarterbacks that make alignment calls. Centers alert the linemen and quarterback about defensive formations.

Those are only two of the four initial questions facing UL-Lafayette when the Cajuns start spring football beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Hudspeth told the media Monday the Cajuns plan to practice Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings until the annual spring game held April 12 at Cajun Field.

Until then, UL-Lafayette will look for inside linebackers to replace Justin Anderson, who led the Cajuns in tackles last season and center Andre Huval, who surveyed opposing defenses for starting quarterback Terrance Broadway.

The other question marks, Hudspeth said, are finding a kick returner to replace Darryl Sugent, who set a school record for kick return yardage, and deep snapper to replace John Broussard.

Hudspeth said Broussard decided to skip his senior year of football in order to enter physical therapy school.

Anderson’s successor will come from a series of candidates who have experience playing on the inside, Hudspeth said.

The three Hudspeth mentioned Monday are Trey Granier, a transfer from LSU; senior Trey Johnson and sophomore Kevin Fouquier, who practiced last spring as a freshman, after signing a scholarship in February.

Hudspeth said whoever wins the starting spot shouldn’t have to confront that steep of a learning curve.

“Trey Granier is a player who (the coaches) watched in practice all during the fall and is really a guy we think is going to compete for that spot,” Hudspeth said. “Trey Johnson is starting his senior year here. We have seen (Fouquier) since last spring.

“I really don’t know if you can call it a learning curve for any of those guys. They have all been in our system, and we know how productive they can be. They can’t just get us lined up right and then not be able to make plays.”

Terry Johnson, a senior who started at left guard last year, is the leading candidate to become the center.

“Right now (center) is (Johnson’s) position to lose,” Hudspeth said.

Who will emerge as the kick returner is more speculative at this point, said Hudspeth.

“There are a lot of candidates that we can put back there right now,” Hudspeth said.

Deep snapper

Hudspeth is also uncertain about the situation at deep snapper.

In an interview following the news conference, Hudspeth said, when practices start, Steve Morella, who like Broussard, played at Lafayette High, will be the candidate to beat at deep snapper.

Hudspeth said one scenario that could emerge might have holder Jake Guidry “short snapping” for punts, while Morella will long snap the ball for field goals and extra points.

Broadway better

Broadway, who has quarterbacked the Cajuns to a pair of R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl wins, has fully recovered from the arm injury which he had when he led UL-Lafayette to a 24-21 victory over Tulane in December, Hudspeth said.

Hudspeth said, however, one of the major goals of spring practice is keeping Broadway healthy as the Cajuns start preparations for 2014.

Determining Broadway’s backup will again occupy the scrutiny of the offensive staff, Hudspeth said.

Hudspeth couldn’t identify a backup quarterback from among three candidates following the end of spring drills last year and this spring the backup quarterback situation will again involve a tight race, he said.

As of now, Hudspeth said sophomore Brooks Haack probably has the edge over Jalen Nixon and D’Shaie Landor at backup quarterback.

Deep thoughts

Hudspeth said the Cajuns start the spring deeper and more experienced than any of the four teams he’s had at UL-Lafayette. Almost all of the players who compete in 2014 are those signed since Hudspeth took over, he said.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who have played in a lot of football games,” said Hudspeth, who is 27-12 since coming to UL-Lafayette.

In contrast to last spring, the Cajuns have developed sufficient depth in the secondary, Hudspeth said.

On the schedule

Practices on Tuesday and Thursday will begin at 3:30 p.m. The Saturday practices will start at 9:40 a.m. with the exception of March 22.