Johnson: Brooks Haack gives the Cajuns a reliable backup plan

Insurance plans are required if you’re going to make your mark on the college football world, because really every team is only as good as its backup quarterback.

If such a term applied in the college ranks, Terrance Broadway would be a true franchise quarterback. He’s the centerpiece of an offense that will likely cause some headaches for defensive coordinators around the Sun Belt Conference during game prep, and without him ...

Well, let’s not talk about that.

At least, last year you wouldn’t have wanted to talk about that. Not when the Cajuns lost a shot at an outright SBC title in a dismal loss to South Alabama thanks, in large part, to even more dismal play by backup quarterback Brooks Haack.

This year? Maybe things would turn out better if the wildly unfortunate were to occur.

You want to know what’s more important than having a backup plan? Having a good backup plan. One that you’re confident to put to use if the you-know-what really does hit the fan.

Meet Brooks Haack two-point-oh. He’s not the Brooks Haack you used to know.

“He was green going into the games last year,” Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth said. “Now he’s got another year of maturity under his belt, he’s been working hard, he’s completing passes out here, he has a command of the offense.

“I think he’s much further ahead at this point than he was last year.”

Haack was sharp in Saturday’s scrimmage, hitting receivers in stride and tossing the lone passing touchdown of the game to junior college transfer C.J. Bates on red-zone fade. He certainly didn’t look green leading the first-team offense against the Cajuns’ No. 1 defense as the all-important Broadway avoided injury on the sideline.

You know what he looked like? An experienced college quarterback. One that’s already been put to the fire and knows when it’s about to get hot.

“The thing I liked is that he pushed up in the pocket, moved right or left to buy a little bit of time and find the open receiver, and he made some nice plays doing that,” Hudspeth said. “I thought that showed a lot of poise on his part that he probably didn’t demonstrate early when he first got in the game, and rightfully so. Those were his first snaps ever.”

Hudspeth has shouldered blame for the way things went down after Broadway broke his arm last year. He said he didn’t put Haack or the team in the right position to succeed by finding the easiest way to get the ball in the hands of playmakers.

That won’t be the case if the worst-case scenario presents itself again. Having to play without Broadway may have been a miserable experience, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a learning experience.

“If Brooks has to play, we can throw the ball,” Hudspeth said. “But we’ve got to rely on the guys behind him. We’ve got two all-conference running backs. That’s the thing I wish I would’ve done a better job of last year, let those guys carry the load and don’t ask Brooks to win the game for you.

“Manage the game and get the ball to your playmakers.”

And if the unspeakable happens? Well, that’s the beautiful thing about having insurance you trust — you don’t really worry about it.