Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead is busy assembling his staff in Starkville this week. On top of adding a defensive coordinator with SEC coaching experience, Moorhead could also be adding an offensive line coach with ACC coaching experience. He will also reportedly offer a coaching job to former Louisiana-Lafeyette head coach Mark Hudspeth.
According to a report from Football Scoop, Hudspeth will be joining the Mississippi State coaching staff as a tight ends coach. This will be a homecoming of sorts for Hudspeth. Hudspeth previously spent time on the Mississippi State coaching staff form 2009 through 2010 prior to becoming the head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette. His addition to the staff should be a welcome one as Moorhead continues to add quality assistants to his growing football staff in Starkville.
According to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated, via Twitter, Duke offensive line coach Marcus Johnson could be the latest addition to the coaching staff at Mississippi State.
This is a particularly interesting hire, because Johnson is an alum of Ole Miss (Class of 2004). The former NFL lineman joined the Duke coaching staff in 2011 and has held multiple positions on the football staff over the years under David Cutcliffe. Duke’s offensive line play may not have ever been among the best in the ACC, but Johnson was on a staff that saw Duke play for an ACC championship, and the level of offensive linemen he may be able to work with at Mississippi State could potentially be improved over his units in Durham.
It is also worth noting that Johnson played under former Ole Miss offensive line coach, Matt Luke. Luke was given the full-time head coaching job at Ole Miss after his one-year interim job.
Louisiana-Lafayette has made a somewhat surprising coaching change on Sunday. Mark Hudspeth has reportedly been fired as head coach of the Ragin’ Cajuns. Tim Buckley of The Daily Advertiser reported the news, via Twitter.
The firing comes a day after Louisiana was demolished by Appalachian State on Saturday in the regular season finale. The loss dropped the program to 5-7 for the season, preventing the Ragin’ Cajuns from reaching bowl eligibility for the second time in three seasons. Hudspeth has coached ULL to a bowl game in five seasons, with each trip going to the New Orleans Bowl. ULL was 4-1 in those five bowl appearances.
Hudspeth was 51-38 in seven seasons with the program. Don’t expect Hudspeth to be out of a job for too long. Hudspeth would make for a good offensive coordinator at the worst for some program in need of an offensive coordinator next year, and his head coaching experience still should make him an interesting name to be considered for some head coaching vacancies that may come open.
The football-playing career for Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Anthony Jennings has officially come to a close. An appeal for an extra year of eligibility was denied by the NCAA, according to coach Mark Hudspeth.
“I’m very disappointed for Anthony,” Hudspeth told The Daily Advertiser. “I would’ve loved to have seen what he could’ve done with a year under his belt in our system.”
Getting an extra year for Jennings was believed to be a long shot, but there is no harm in trying. According to The Daily Advertiser, the case for Jennings was focused on Jennings being used sparingly during the 2015 season as a junior at LSU. Jennings appeared in two games for the Tigers in 2015 and recorded no stats. He transferred to Louisiana-Lafayette at the end of the 2015 season and was given a chance to play a significant role with the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Louisiana-Lafayette now has a bit of a concern at quarterback for the upcoming season. The program returns reserve options Jordan Davis, Dion Ray and Jake Arceneaux, who redshirted last season. All three will be expected to be given a chance to compete starting this spring for the starting job this fall.
For the fourth straight season, the Louisiana-Lafayette (9-4, 7-1 Sun Belt Conference) season comes to an end by celebrating a victory in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. The Ragin’ Cajuns buckled down defensively to hold off Nevada (7-6, 4-4 Mountain West Conference) for a 16-3 victory. UL-Lafayette is the first school to ever win the same bowl game in four consecutive seasons.
UL-Lafayette jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead in the first quarter before Nevada got a handle on things defensively. The offense for the Wolf Pack could never really get going though. For the first time this season Nevada was held to fewer than 20 points, and it was the first time since losing to Florida State in 2013 (62-7) that Nevada was held to fewer than 10 points in a game.
UL-Lafayette quarterback Terrance Broadway was accurate and effective with his passing against Nevada, completing 26 of 31 attempts for 227 yards and a touchdown. Running back Elijah McGuire led the Ragin’ Cajuns on the ground with 97 yards and was the team’s leading receiver with 54 receiving yards.
Not only is this the fourth consecutive New Orleans Bowl victory in as many years for Louisiana-Lafayette, but this marks the fourth straight season with a record of 9-4 for the program, another tremendous credit to the work and model of consistency put together under the leadership of head coach Mark Hudspeth. The program had just four winning seasons dating back to 1990 before Hudspeth was named the head coach before the 2011 season. Hudspeth had his contract extended earlier this year, but he is going to remain one of the coaches to watch during next season’s coaching carousel unless he still moves somewhere during this season’s cycle. Pittsburgh and Michigan still have coaching vacancies to fill, as well as Colorado State.
Nevada’s last bowl victory came in the 2010 season in the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco. Head coach Chris Ault did show signs of improvement with the Nevada a program this season though. Although it ended with a loss, Nevada doubled its win total from a year ago, at a time when the program was in the midst of some significant turnover and going through a realignment adjustment. One key offseason task for Nevada will be to find a replacement for quarterback Cody Fajardo. The senior was Nevada’s leading passer and rusher in the losing effort, and he had a rough finale as a college player. Nevada plays in a wide-open division in the Mountain West Conference, so it would not be a surprise at all to see Nevada bounce back next season and contend for the West Division.
With the Ragin’ Cajuns winning, the Sun Belt Conference gets off to a good start in the bowl season. The Sun Belt went 2-0 in its two bowl appearances last season. The Sun Belt has two more bowl games to be played this season, starting later today with South Alabama playing Bowling Green in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. Arkansas State will face Toledo on January 4 in the GoDaddy Bowl.
Playing in its fourth consecutive R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, the UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns showed plenty of comfort and poise playing in the Superdome, but after jumping out to a 10-0 lead the Cajuns have simmered and allowed Nevada to get back in the mix.
On the game’s opening possession, UL Lafayette marched right down field on the Wolf Pack with a 77-yard drive ending with a Terrance Broadway touchdown pass to C.J. Bates for the early 7-0 lead. They added a field goal on the next drive in the first quarter while Nevada’s offense was sputtering and slow to get rolling. This has been the story for UL Lafayette in previous trips to the New Orleans Bowl under head coach Mark Hudspeth.
Broadway completed his first 11 passes of the game before throwing one out-of-bounds. At the half, Broadway has completed 15 of 17 passes for 123 yards.
The second quarter started to swing the momentum toward the others sideline though. Nevada’s defense started to clamp down on their opponents, forcing a pair of three-and-outs and changing the field possession game. The offense did its part as well as Cody Fajardo started to get in a rhythm. However, the Wolf Pack could only manage to put a single field goal on the board. A fumble deep in ULL territory killed one scoring threat, and a crucial false start penalty on the one-yard line may have prevented Nevada from punching in a touchdown.
Nevada has been a good second half team this season. Nevada averages 19.4 points per game in the second half, ranking ninth in the country.