Consistency at quarterback is of utmost importance in college football. This is not to be confused with the Heisman narrative that a quarterback must be reaching a certain threshold of stats in order to be considered consistent or effective. It is more appropriate that a team finds a quarterback whose qualities align with the goal of the offensive scheme and the team’s identity.
The Ragin’ Cajuns are tasked with finding a player such as this for the 2017 season. The team is coming off of three straight seasons with a different quarterback, and heading into a season with a new offensive scheme. While success may not be instant, it is imperative that a player who can provide consistency over time be found and put in as signal-caller.
The Ragin’ Cajuns have had a different starting quarterback for each of the last three seasons. This began with Terrance Broadway in 2014, moved to Brooks Haack in 2015 and Anthony Jennings in 2016. Only Haack reached seven yards per attempt throughout an entire season over this span. The Ragin’ Cajuns like to lean on the running game and have been successful in this endeavor over the last few years, but the passing game has not been consistent enough to complement the running game’s effectiveness.
Spring practice began for the Ragin’ Cajuns on March 7th, and thus far there have been four contenders on the spring roster vying for the chance to earn the starting spot: Jordan Davis, Dion Ray, Jake Arceneaux, and Andre Nunez. All indications have been that the four are in a competition for the starting spot, but some of their paths to that goal are more clearer than others. This examination excludes the two quarterbacks that will be coming in as freshman, Kadon Harrison and Levi Lewis, as they are not currently part of the spring football roster.
Jordan Davis: Davis is the only true thrower on the roster that has started a football game for the Ragin’ Cajuns. This came in 2015 against Troy, and it was an underwhelming performance, but one that showed potential for the future. The term “true thrower” is used here to describe Davis as he has been trusted to throw the ball in the past for the team and that gives him a slight edge over the next player, Dion Ray, who has been used as a runner at the position. Based purely on experience with the team, Davis is the starter. But one must keep in mind that he essentially was a non-factor in 2016, and there is a new offense to learn. This limits his advantages over the other quarterback contenders.
Dion Ray: Ray is an interesting prospect for the quarterback position. The team liked to use him in 2016 as a runner in certain situations, and he will most likely continue a similar role if there is no clear starter role ahead of him. He was not trusted to throw the ball, as shown by the single passing attempt throughout the entire 2016 season and ran the ball nearly 30 times. Ray’s situational use is unique because it does not necessarily place him in direct competition with the others, but he needs to show that his role is still useful to the team and develop under Will Hall’s new offense.
Jake Arceneaux: Arceneaux was a member of the 2016 Ragin’ Cajuns roster, but as a redshirt. His path to the starting position is possible by virtue of the situation that is presented by Jordan Davis and Dion Ray. Davis and Ray both have seniority over Arceneaux and game experience, but neither have separated themselves as the answer for the upcoming season. If Arceneaux finds a niche in the new offense being implemented, he could find himself starting for the Ragin’ Cajuns for multiple years to come.
Andre Nunez: A transfer student from Iowa Western Community College, Nunez finds himself in a position similar to Arceneaux. While it is similar, he is at a disadvantage of being completely new to the Ragin’ Cajuns. It would be surprising to see Nunez rise to the position of starter for this season, but there is a void right now that both he and Arceneaux are able to take advantage of.
The Ragin’ Cajuns will have their first scrimmage of the spring on Tuesday, March 21st at 3:50 pm. Perhaps this will start the process of an athlete making a move to the top of the quarterbacks depth chart. Perhaps this will make the waters even more muddy.
It is important to reiterate that this does not include the two quarterbacks who signed on national signing day, and that they could potentially find a void to exploit and move up the depth chart as well. Regardless of how it plays out, healthy competition at the quarterback position awaits the Ragin’ Cajuns for the 2017 season.