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Football: First UL-Boise State meeting features familiar faces

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, September 19, 2014


The last time UL faced a team whose coach was head coach at Arkansas State for one season before moving on to greener pastures, things did not go so well.

That would be last Saturday, when the Ragin’ Cajuns fell to then-No. 14 Ole Miss and Rebels coach Hugh Freeze.

Now the Cajuns get another crack at a similar scenario.

Bryan Harsin played quarterback at Boise State in his hometown of Boise from 1995-99, was Boise State’s tight ends coach from 2002-2005, was Boise State’s offensive coordinator from 2006-2010, was the University of Texas’ co-offensive coordinator from 2011-12, had his first head coaching job at Arkansas State in 2013, when the Red Wolves shared the Sun Belt Conference with UL.

Now he’s in his first season as head coach at Boise State, which UL will play for the first time in its history in a 9:30 p.m. CBS Sports Network-televised game Saturday night.

One difference between Freeze and Harsin, however, is that Freeze’s Arkansas State team beat UL 30-21 in 2011.

The Cajuns, though, beat Harsin’s Red Wolves 23-7 in 2013 at Jonesboro.

“The score wasn’t nearly as indicative of what they did to us,” Boise State tight ends coach Eliah Drinkwitz, who followed Harsin from Arkansas State, told reporters in Idaho earlier this week. “They scarred us emotionally a little bit. I’m serious.

“They’re a good football team. They’re a physical football team. … I don’t know what everybody else is expecting, but I’m expecting a freakin’ battle.”

So is Hudspeth, from all indications.

“I think they’re tough, and I thought last year Bryan’s team at Arkansas State was tough,” he said. “That’s the mindset they’ve always had there at Boise. So, it will be a challenge.”

Hudspeth called Boise State “exceptional” at home, where at 86-4 the Broncos have won 95.6 percent of the time – best home winning percentage in the nation – since the start of the 2000 season.

Harsin, meanwhile, has great respect for both UL quarterback Terrance Broadway and UL’s defensive line.

“The Ole Miss D-line was very good. This D-line (UL’s) ranks right up there with them,” said Harsin, who lost his Boise State debut 35-13 to Ole Miss in Atlanta before bouncing back to beat Colorado State at home and UConn on the road last Saturday. “They have size, speed like we saw in the first game.”

Hudspeth’s Cajuns lost 56-15 at Ole Miss.

After witnessing the Rebels up-close, and watching film of their early win over the Broncos, the UL coach sounds concerned about Harsin’s offense, Boise State 22-point loss to Ole Miss notwithstanding.

He calls Boise State “a tempo team” that is “gonna spread you out.”

“They’re a little more wide open (than Ole Miss),” Hudspeth said of the Broncos, who – with Colorado State being the exception – will be playing their third first-time opponent of the season tonight.

“Their formations are endless. Their personnel groupings and formations – you can’t prepare for them all. It’s impossible. So they do a really good job of giving you a lot of different looks.

“(They) don’t play with quite the speed and tempo that Ole Miss played with, but they still are a tempo team at times,” Hudspeth added. “But they also do a lot of trick plays. You’ve got to be ready for them. They like the trick plays.”