Fearless Cajuns

University of Louisiana head coach Mark Hudspeth talks about his what he expects from his team and Arkansas when the two teams meet Saturday at 3 p.m. in both teams' season opener.

University of Louisiana head coach Mark Hudspeth isn't bringing his team to Fayetteville on Saturday afternoon just to pick up a big paycheck for his program.

He's coming with a confident program – one that just missed pulling off an upset in Florida last season – that believes it has a chance to knock off Arkansas.

The Ragin' Cajuns have gone 9-4 in each of the last two seasons and the program - which had only won nine games twice in its history before that - has won two straight New Orleans Bowls.

"I think obviously back to back bowl wins, and the way we at least played at Florida last year — we didn't win the game, but we competed — I think gave our guys even more confidence that you know, we can compete on a bigger stage.," Hudspeth said on the Sun Belt Conference call Monday.

"Our guys are confident.," Hudspeth added. "They're not by any means arrogant or cocky coming into this game, but they're confident. They're looking forward to the challenge of competing against these guys. Hopefully, we'll be ready and we can play well."

Hudspeth – who was a very successful coach at North Alabama (66-21) before coming to his current school, said Monday that it really was of no value to watch much tape of last season's Arkansas team because the program has been overhauled with the arrival of former Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema.

"To me, I can't take anything from last year's film," Hudspeth said. "We haven't even watched any of last year's Arkansas film. Just a couple of snaps maybe to look at personnel. But as far as how they played scheme-wise, we haven't even glanced at it. They'll be totally different systems. … That (last year) was a totally different system, so that can't dictate how they didn't do well against mobile quarterbacks considering it's going to be a new scheme.

He is not sure of what to expect scheme-wise with the merging of Bielema's run-oriented attack with that of former Tennessee and current Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and a new defensive coordinator in Chris Ash.

"You hope you're somewhere in the ballpark," Hudspeth said. "But that's the scary part of going into a game where you've got a totally new staff, new direction within the program. There's always the uncertainty. You've just got to prepare for so many different things that it is hard to clue into the main things like you can midseason when you've got some legitimate film from a team that's been playing for six games.

"Here, they've got coordinators from different universities, some came with Coach Bielema, some didn't, so there's a lot of uncertainty.," Hudspeth said. "Different special teams coordinators from all over the country. Different schools. That in itself is going to make it quite a challenge."

Louisiana - which plays at Kansas State next week - is led by junior quarterback Terrance Broadway, who passed for nearly 3,000 yards and rushed for over 700 more last season.

"I think he just continues to develop as a quarterback," Broadway said. "He didn't start the season last year as the starting quarterback. He was really thrust into that position when Brandon Gautier got injured. Then once he really got a couple games under his belt, he really took off.

"He's had a great camp," Hudspeth added. "He's just continued his growth his quarterback, a student of the game. He's been very sharp. He gets us in the right plays. To me, he's a true dual threat athlete, but he throws it like a pocket passer."

Louisiana's offense returns seven starters, but the defense had to replace it's whole secondary.

"I think we've helped ourselves in the secondary," Hudspeth said. "I think we'll be much better in the secondary. We do have some depth across the front. I think our defensive line is really a quality, really a good defensive front with some depth. The thing is, we're just young and inexperienced. The only way to get experience is to get experience. So they're going to be baptized in the fire in front of about 80,000, that's for sure.

"…We've only got five or six seniors who actually start or play," Hudspeth added. "We're a team loaded with juniors and sophomores, So even though I really feel like we can be competitive this year, our best football I think is even yet to come."

His play is one of the reasons that the Ragin' Cajuns believe they have a chance to win Saturday's game.

"We're excited about the season, excited to get started," Hudspeth said. " It will be a great challenge playing up in Fayetteville against an outstanding Arkansas. So it will be a huge challenge for our team, a little measuring stick. But I know we're going to be excited for the opportunity, and we look forward to competing against those guys."


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