Heading into the 2015 season, the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns coaching staff mentioned the need to put together a strong passing game to take some of the pressure off of star running back Elijah McGuire. It was to be a much different offensive outlook than in the previous seasons under starting quarterback Terrance Broadway.
All you have to do is look at the record for the Ragin' Cajuns to realize just how badly that experiment went.
Juniors Brooks Haack and Jalen Nixon were the front runners for the job heading into the season. Haack won the job for the season opener, but Nixon also saw significant time behind center. Between the two, the Louisiana offense sputtered and stalled nearly all season long.
Third string quarterback Jordan Davis, a redshirt freshman, saw action in the final two games of the season, adding 256 yards passing and another 24 yards on the ground. In total, the passing game was good for only 2,491 yards and 13 touchdowns.
It should be a battle between the three for the starting job in 2016, right?
Wrong. We are not even to January and two things have already changed dramatically at quarterback for the Ragin' Cajuns.
First, head coach Mark Hudspeth announced the likelihood of Jalen Nixon making the transition to a power running back for the 2016 season. Running the ball was always the top skill for Nixon and should allow him to play in a much more natural position. At 6-2, 226 pounds, Nixon should make for a great power complement to the speed of McGuire.
Second, Haack decided to step away from the program. The rising fifth year senior could always change his mind and come back, but this seems pretty final. Haack was voted as a team captain in 2015, despite never quite winning the quarterback battle over Nixon. He will be missed for his knowledge of the game and his leadership qualities.
With the news of Haack leaving the program, Nixon could possibly stay at quarterback. Time will tell.
Suddenly a redshirt freshman that attempted only 41 passes on the year is the most experienced returning quarterback on the Ragin' Cajuns roster.
Let's take a look at the rest of the quarterbacks on the Louisiana roster and who may be the right fit for the 2016 team.
On The Roster:
Dion Ray: The 2015 signee just went through his freshman season with the program, earning a redshirt. He is a 6-0, 185 pound dual threat quarterback that had offers from Power Five programs Arizona State, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State. The three-star quarterback should get a chance to win the starting job in 2016.
Chris Weaver: Weaver was part of the same recruiting class that brought Dion Ray to the program. Weaver is also a dual threat quarterback, just not as highly ranked at Ray. He could work his way into contention, but it will take quite the effort for him to see any playing time in 2016.
Gunner Hudspeth: The 2015 walk-on is the oldest son of head coach Mark Hudspeth. He will not be the starting quarterback.
Patrick Morton: The rising junior is not expected to see any time playing time this fall.
Finally, let's look towards the future and what quarterbacks will be headed to Lafayette this fall.
Jake Arceneaux: The 6-2, 175 pounder is committed, but not yet signed to the Ragin' Cajuns. He is a three-star pro-style quarterback that has been committed to the program since March. He is a native of Lafayette, playing his high school ball at Ascension Episcopal. He could get in the mix, but a redshirt is likely in his future.