Hudspeth Finding Place For Nixon On Football Field
Jalen Nixon is an asset on the football field, but Head Coach Mark Hudspeth is still trying to figure out where he should put him.
Playing quarterback didn't exactly work out for Nixon. Turnovers cost him the starting job, but he flashed ability with the ball that Coach Hud couldn't ignore. The early news out of Spring Camp was that Nixon was making the move to running back, but it looks like even that idea is up in the air.
Coach Hud doesn't care where Nixon plays, he just needs to find a spot for him somewhere on the field. It's the coach's job to put talent in the right place, and Hud is exploring every option.
“I got to figure out where I’m going to put Jalen," Hud shared in his final press conference of the spring session. "Jalen’s too good of a football player to where he has to be on the sideline. He’s got to be on the field, whether it’s at running back, whether it’s on defense. If he’s a backup quarterback, he just can’t help us.”
You read that correctly, Coach Hud said he is thinking of using Nixon on defense. He wasn't joking either.
At 6'2" and around 225 lbs, Nixon is an athletic specimen. His speed with the football makes you wonder what he could do as a compliment to Elijah McGuire in the running game, but the idea of him laying somebody out on defense is something many Cajun fans probably never even thought of. The boxes in Hud's depth chart are filling up at running back though, so he is thinking outside the box.
It's obvious Hud isn't going to put him back at quarterback. One of the young guys (Jordan Davis, Chris Weaver, Dion Ray) is going to have to step up and claim the job, because Nixon's days as the primary passer are done.
Hud said if there were injury issues at QB, he would trust Nixon to play in a pinch, but it's not the primary plan. Things could be changing in a major way for Jalen, but it would ultimately lead to him seeing more playing time.
“I need him more on the field in a bigger role, so I’ve got to find a place for him to play," Hudspeth said, trying to find the place for his interesting puzzle piece. "Special teams, possibly on defense, maybe on offense at running back, but we’re waiting to see how that might shake out.”
Where would Nixon play on defense? Safety? With a lot of big, capable bodies (Simeon Thomas, Savion Brown, Troy McCollum, Travis Crawford, Zach DeGrange) already on the roster and JUCO players (the staff is high on Artez Williams) to factor in, it's hard to imagine him breaking into that rotation.
Could Nixon become a pass rusher? He knew how to evade sacks as a QB, so would he be able to harass QB's with his knowledge of the pocket? It's difficult to wrap your head around the concept of Nixon playing defense, after seeing him spend so much time with the ball in his hands.
The coaching staff wouldn't waste their time trying to convert him if they didn't see a spot for him, but where is it?
Special teams makes a bit more sense. Returning punts or kicks would put the ball in his hands with some space to move around. He showed he has the jets to run away from defenders, and if he doesn't have to protect his throwing arm he could probably lower his shoulder and flatten a few people. His whole job as the quarterback was to evade contact, but it looks like his job description just got a lot more physical.
In less than a year, Nixon could go from being the hunted (a quarterback) to the hunter (defense). Coach Hud has a predatory puzzle piece, now he just needs to get him in position to pounce.