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Football: Cajuns love the Big Easy

Tim Buckley, Daily Advertiser, Dec. 20, 2013

Injured UL safety Rodney Gillis (21), right, leads a team chant during the second team practice on Thursday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Injured UL safety Rodney Gillis (21), right, leads a team chant during the second team practice on Thursday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. / Paul Kieu/The Advertiser

NEW ORLEANS — It has to be something, and it’s not only the beignets.

So just what is it that has the UL football team loving the New Orleans Bowl so much it is thrilled to be here for a third straight year, this time to face Tulane on Saturday night at the Superdome?

Ragin’ Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth counts the ways, starting with the fact his players “are familiar with the city.”

“The bowl people do such a great job of putting this bowl on,” Hudspeth, whose Cajuns also beat San Diego State here in 2011 and East Carolina here in 2012, said during a pre-bowl Media Day session Thursday at the Superdome. “Our kids have a great week.

“It’s perfect for us, because it’s close enough where our fans can come down, stay the weekend. Our families can come; the players’ families can come. So it’s a great bowl for us, and a great city that knows how to host a bowl.”

But those aren’t the only reasons.

“Then, to me, you’re playing in one of the greatest sports venues in the country, in the Superdome,” Hudspeth said shortly before leaving for New Orleans. “You’re in a great city, right there on Canal Street, with so many things for our players to do.

“On top of that, it’s before Christmas. Your players get to go play in a great bowl, then they get to go have Christmas with their families.

“And it’s one of the first bowls of the year,” he added. “Fans are bowl-hungry, so we’ll have a great audience (on ESPN). We won’t be sharing time with NFL games and things like that … so it’s, too me, a great time for a bowl.”

TV Talk

Veteran announcer Mike Patrick (play-by-play), ex-NFL center Ed Cunningham (analysis) and Jeannine Edwards (sidelines) will work the New Orleans Bowl for ESPN.

Past ESPN booth crews for UL’s other two New Orleans Bowls had Carter Blackburn teamed with ex-NFL quarterback Brock Huard for the Cajuns’ 2011 win over San Diego State, and Beth Mowins team with ex-NFL receiver Joey Galloway for their win last year over East Carolina.  


A sampling of New Orleans Bowl predictions, from …

 * SI.com: Tulane 24, UL 17;

* College Football News: UL 26, Tulane 23;

* Bleacher Report: Tulane 24, UL 20;

* USA Today: Four of six ‘pickers’ pick UL; and

* Athlon Sports: Four of five ‘pickers’ pick UL.


New Orleans Bowl executive director Billy Ferrante said Thursday that ticket sales for Saturday night’s game have exceeded 55,200, including those purchased by sponsors to be distributed around thecommunity and some folded into the purchase price of community sporting events. Actual attendance for UL-vs.-East Carolina in last year’s New Orleans Bowl was a record 48,828. … New Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson, most recently offensive coordinator at North Carolina, was UL’s offensive coordinator in 2007, then left Lafayette after one season for the same post at Southern Mississippi. … Current SEC Coordinator of Officials Steve Shaw was named Thursday to also work as Sun Belt Coordinator of Football Officials starting in 2014. He’s replacing Don Lucas, who’s held the post since 2001.


Sophomore Stephen Brauchle was UL’s only field-goal and PAT kicker for the season’s first 11 games before being replaced by usual kickoff specialist Hunter Stover, who didn’t attempt either an extra punt or a field goal in the Cajuns’ regular season-ending loss at South Alabama.

Hudspeth said Thursday that his plan is for Stover to kick UL’s first field goal in the New Orleans Bowl – if circumstances allow.

“If he (Stover) makes it, he’ll get the second field goal,” Hudspeth said. “But I’m gonna give Brauchle the opportunity also (if circumstances permit) to kick an extra point, because he’s done great with those all year long.”

Brauchle is 8-of-13 on field attempts in his first season as a Cajun but he’s 47-of-49 on PATs.