Mark Hudspeth Press Conference For Louisiana Tech [VIDEO]
Head Ragin' Cajun Football Coach Mark Hudspeth had a lot on his mind after the Akron game to get rid of before moving on to Louisiana Tech this week.
The loss to the Zips raised a lot of questions, literally, for Hudspeth to answer in his weekly press conference with the media. He spent over 30 minutes breaking down the insufficiency against Akron, speaking on the "distraction" of the new Athletic Performance Center and previewing a critical matchup with Louisiana Tech up in Ruston.
One of the trendy topics in Cajun Nation after the Akron game had to do with the quarterback position. Hudspeth said the competition at the position is back open, but he didn't disparage Brooks Haack for his performance.
"It's not that Brooks was doing super poorly," Hudspeth said, "We just had seven points."
Haack's competition came in, facing a deficit, and made some solid plays. Jalen Nixon is typically tagged as a running QB, but Coach Hudspeth was quick to defend his arm.
"I thought Jalen threw the ball really well...he threw some strikes," Hudspeth said. When asked about what Nixon needed to do to earn the starting role, Hud responded with, "That's all up to him. It's how he practices, how he produces...the players decide who plays."
Hudspeth also mentioned that Nixon's biggest hurdle was being more responsible off the field, but he added that Nixon's done everything asked of him lately.
Both quarterbacks and running backs alike enjoyed the protection provided by Offensive Lineman Mykhael Quave against Akron, which earned him the Offensive Player of the Week award. Hudspeth said he played "lights out" against the Zips, and his solidifying presence on the line will be needed again versus a physical La. Tech team.
One thing the team won't have to deal with this week is a move into a new building. All the equipment is in the new APC, and the players are no longer adjusting to new scenery. After a lengthy speech about the distractions provided by the facility after Saturday's game, Hudspeth addressed the topic in a less heated tone.
"It was just a total routine change, midstream, coming off an open date," Hudspeth said. "It was just one thing after another, so it wasn't an easy transition. At least now we have the transition complete."
Hudspeth offered several challenges to his "big" players to start stepping up and producing. Among telling Jamal Robinson and Elijah McGuire to "throw this team on your shoulders and say, 'giddy-up,'" Hudspeth called upon some of the other roll players to break out as well.
"If you don't like the view of the herd, move to the front," Hudspeth said.
One player hoping to move back to the front is freshman wide receiver Gary Haynes, Hudspeth said missed the Akron game due to suspension. It was described as "in-house-discipline," and the young playmaker is expected to contribute once again up in Ruston.
Unfortunately for a few others, their status is up in the air. Senior linebacker/safety TJ Worthy is suffering from a hamstring injury again, which has him listed as questionable for the trip to Louisiana Tech. Outside linebacker and pass rush specialist Darzil Washington is very doubtful for the game, and Hudspeth hinted that they wouldn't tempt fate trying to bring him back too early. On a bright health note, backup running back Effrem Reed is expected to make his return to the field this weekend to help make a difference alongside Elijah McGuire.
The Cajuns need a quick turnaround before facing Louisiana Tech. Despite the off week, their preparation for Akron looked poor, which Hudspeth was keen to address heading into one of the toughest spots on the schedule.
"We need all our team to practice much better," Hudspeth said. "Typically, when you don't practice great, you don't play great."
Practice makes perfect, and Hudspeth's crew will have to be much more on point if they wish to right the ship and even things out in the wins and loss columns.