WATCH: Mark Hudspeth Previews Ragin’ Cajuns Game Against Texas State
Mark Hudspeth's Ragin' Cajuns are 2-4 halfway through the season, but he wants to flip the script for the second half. If he wants to turn things around, it starts at Texas State.
The Bobcats come in with an identical 2-4 record, so there's a lot to lose for both teams. Neither squad can afford to drop another game in Sun Belt Conference play, and Coach Hud wants to avoid a shootout at all costs.
"With the way we've been playing offensively, we want to avoid that," Hudspeth said with respect. He added, "They have some offensive firepower, especially with their quarterback Tyler Jones."
Jones has 15 total touchdowns for the Bobcats, and he's on pace for over 3,000 yards passing, with a 62.4 percent completion rate. The senior is trying to finish strong in his final year with Texas State, and he will be playing the Cajuns on his home turf in San Marcos.
In terms of quarterback play, the Ragin' Cajuns are searching for consistency.
Anthony Jennings and the Cajun offense couldn't put a single point on the board against Appalachian State, but he said the offensive line and the rest of the team didn't provide him with the time, or help, he needed to succeed.
"We didn't really give him much of a chance to stretch the field, due to some protection issues," Hudspeth said. He explained the problems further by saying, "[We were] not necessarily in the right position, not necessarily doing our job."
He's not ready to make any wholesale changes on a young offensive line, and he's not going to shy away from leaning on them moving forward either.
After the loss to App State, Hudspeth mentioned that he wasn't sure whether the team knew their offensive identity. He clarified that statement in his press conference, and he seemed a little more sure of who they are and what he wants them to do.
"We've got a big offensive line, we have some talented running backs," Hudspeth said. Then, with assurance, he outlined the plan, "We want to be able to run the football."
A lot of the issues with the offense are self-inflicted. Penalties, turnovers and missed assignments took the Cajuns out of their element. Their head coach was the first one to admit their main problem.
"We're our own worst enemies in a lot of ways with mistakes and miscues," Hudspeth mentioned.
Injuries also hampered the team's productivity. Hud said Elijah McGuire is playing "banged up," but he's back to full strength after two lengthy breaks in between games. He's hoping to have sophomore playmaker Gary Haynes back in the receiving corps, but he didn't sound so sure when he described his health situation.
Haynes is coming off knee surgery, and while the team needs him, Hudspeth isn't comfortable rushing him back before he's 100 percent. In terms of a percentage, he couldn't give an exact number, but he's going to play it by feel, literally, with Haynes.
"I'm not sure how ready he is to make a huge impact," Hud said. "As he progresses, we'll decide how big a part of the gameplan he'll be."
On a bright note, he said safety Travis Crawford is fully ready to return. Before his injury, Crawford was a menace on the back end for the Cajuns, so getting him back is a clear boost to a team looking for silver linings to hold on to. When you throw in recently re-added Savion Brown (suspension), the secondary should get a solid boost.
Crawford and Haynes aren't the only players on the injury report either. Safety Tracy Walker and receiver Ja'Marcus Bradley are big pieces of the game plan too, if they're ready to go.
"Both will probably be a game-time decision," Hudspeth said on Monday. "I'll know a little more after tomorrow's practice."
The Cajuns need all hands on deck to turn this ship around. A win over Texas State would send a spark through the locker room, and if Hudspeth wants his team to catch fire, they need this game in San Marcos.