New Orleans Analysis: ULL 43, ECU 34
Posted Dec 22, 2012

The instant analysis and reaction to the 2012 R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

- R+L Carriers New Orleans - Louisiana-Lafayette 43, East Carolina 34

In a wild game with a few big swings, Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to a 28-7 first half lead helped by two touchdown runs from Alonzo Harris from six and 68 yards away, but East Carolina mounted a terrific comeback. Shane Carden threw two scoring passes and Reggie Bullock came up with a 13-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 31 late in the third, but the Ragin' Cajuns took control the rest of the way as Terrance Broadway connected with Javone Lawson for a 14-yard score and Brett Baer nailed two of his three field goals on the day to close out with a 13-3 run. Baer's 40-yard shot with ten seconds to play put ULL up nine and put the game away. Broadway and Harris each ran for over 100 yards.

Louisiana-Lafayette: QB Terrance Broadway completed 21-of-32 passes for 316 yards with a touchdown and a pick, and he ran 15 times for 108 yards and a score. … RB Alonzo Harris ran 21 times for 120 yards and two touchdowns. … Jamal Robinson caught six passes for 116 yards. … ULL outgained ECU 591 yards to 421.

East Carolina: QB Shane Carden completed 25-of-42 passes for 278 yards and two scores with a pick … RB Reggie Bullock ran 17 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns. … LB Jeremy Grove led the team with 12 tackles. … The Pirates didn't commit a penalty.

Richard Cirminiello

Suggested nickname for the Ragin' Cajuns' exciting dual-threat quarterback … Broadway Geaux. Sophomore Terrance Broadway has really come a long way since replacing an injured Blaine Gautier earlier in the year. The transfer from Houston is going to pile up big numbers in this offense over the next two years.

Every year that head coach Mark Hudspeth remains at ULL, it's a gift to the people of Lafayette. He's done a remarkable job with the Ragin' Cajuns in his first two seasons on the job.

East Carolina's Shane Carden isn't the prettiest quarterback on the planet, but a team can win a lot of games with him behind center. He's very accurate, poised in the pocket and does an underrated job of hooking up with receivers on the move.

The New Orleans Bowl was the scene for one of the worst games all season for dropped passes. Both offensively and defensively, terrible hands and ball skills were on display from the Pirates and the Cajuns.

Nice season, Pirates, but you're not going to get to the level that Skip Holtz had you at from 2007-2009 until you start playing a tougher brand of defense. Ruffin McNeill, with Lincoln Riley as his offensive Sherpa, has tried to turn ECU into Greenville's version of Texas Tech, but there's a hard ceiling on that kind of strategy.

By Matt Zemek
E-mail Matt Zemek

- Yes, a normal football game demands patience and the willingness to play for field position, entrusting a defense with the responsibility of stopping the opposition. Yet, a bowl game is a time to let loose, and East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeil punted three times on fourth down with fewer than three full yards to go in the first half. He also eschewed going for it on fourth and a short three with his team in the red zone and trailing, 37-31, in the fourth quarter. "If not us, who? If not now, when?" Go for the brass ring in bowl games, coaches, unless your defense is Notre Dame's or the stakes are particularly high.

- If you thought that Louisiana-Lafayette or its fan base would be bored at the prospect of a repeat trip to the New Orleans Bowl, you thought wrong. ("You" had a name of "Matt Zemek" today.) The Ragin' Cajuns treated this experience as a fresh one, an occasion to be savored. They were duly rewarded.

- Tactically, this game was rather simple when ULL held the ball. The Cajuns did great work when they got outside the tackle box and struggled against East Carolina's rush defense. East Carolina's interior defensive linemen did a great job, while its defensive ends and outside linebackers struggled. ULL's cautiousness with play selection in the latter stages of the fourth quarter kept East Carolina in the game, but the Cajuns' defense rose to the occasion.

- This was a game in which 77 points were scored, but both defenses made plenty of key plays. Dropped passes were part of the calculus, yes, but when the offenses slipped, the defenses were sometimes able to capitalize. This game wasn't one-way traffic in terms of the balance between offense and defense. It wasn't played crisply, but it kept the attention of a football connoisseur.

- You can tell that Louisiana-Lafayette is coached well by Mark Hudspeth. This tells you how well Arkansas State has performed the past two seasons, beating out the Ragin' Cajuns in a competitive Sun Belt.

By Phil Harrison
Follow me @PhilHarrisonCFN

- No matter what anyone tells you, some of these early bowls end up being the most entertaining. We have seen it already this year with the Gildan bowl where Arizona completed an improbable comeback, and now this one where East Carolina made a furious rally only to fall short. It's hard to tell where some of these non-BCS December matchups will go, but we seem to always have some good theater.

- What a performance by Terrance Broadway with over 300 yards passing and over 100 yards rushing. He is no longer a well-kept secret toiling around in the Sun Belt conference after folks got a glimpse of his athletic ability today.

- It was a great effort by East Carolina, but the Pirates just couldn't slow down the Ragin' Cajuns offense consistently enough to pull it off. In fact, it's quite remarkable that ECU was even in a game in which its defense gave up 591 yards of total offense. It's simply too hard to ask your offense to be nearly perfect throughout the entire game.

- It didn't matter in the outcome, but did anyone else find it curious that coach Hudspeth opted to risk a field goal with fifteen seconds left on the clock? Wouldn't you take your chances at a team having to go the length of the football field to score a touchdown rather than risk a block for a TD? Most coaches would have taken a knee there.

- East Carolina--another team left with questions of what to do with its football future with the Big East hanging onto its football life with a fingernail grip. And this is why teams should be sensible about this whole thing and not jump too quickly. I'm looking at you Boise State.

By Bart Doan
Follow me @Bart_cfn

To most, you hear the word HUD, you think Housing and Urban Development. To the world of college football though, Hud is Mark Hudspeth, one of the most underrated coaches in the game, and one that part of you that follow the game have to be a bit stunned still is in Lafayette, La.

What makes it even more shocking is that they did it after losing their star senior QB, Blaine Gauthier to injury, paving...or rather road grating...the way for Terrance Broadway to become a household Sun Belt name. That's a long way for the Houston transfer, and a long way for a once moribund program turned consecutive New Orleans Bowl champions.

If you want to know why Hudspeth, who is another lower division level success story, is such a success, perhaps it came late in the game on fourth down faced with the choice of kicking a field goal that would assuredly salt the game away or being textbook "safe" and just running out more clock to give East Carolina the ball deep in its own territory down only six.

Hudspeth called for the field goal unit, well aware of the fact that a blocked field goal could happen, and if the ball bounces just right, it's awfully easy to pick it up unfettered and run to the end zone. But that's not ULL football under him. Nah, you grab games by the throat and win them. You can't lose up nine with 10 seconds left. You can up six with the other team holding the ball inside their own five, at best case scenario.

Understand the reality here. Since ULL became a Division 1-A Independent in 1996, they'd experienced one winning season as a program, going 6-5 in 2005. Understand that in only two years under Hudspeth, they've won 18 games

When it comes to this particular game, the Cajuns offense was in sync all game, save a few dicey moments on third and short late that really opened the door for East Carolina, but the defense battened down the hatches on the Pirates. The honest difference was the final possession for Ruffin McNeil's bunch.

This is where coaching is the difference. East Carolina, with two timeouts and around two and a half minutes to go, opted to go for it. Fine, the way it had been an offensive contest, going for it deep in your own territory. But they lost a timeout on that fourth and five when even if you don't get the first, you can control the clock enough to assure you'd get another shot. If not, it gets dicey.

Obviously the stop was made, ULL took over, and what was ostensibly a home crowd (a sure rant-worthy column for another day in and of itself), and the deed was done. The over-riding take away from this game though should be the sleeping giant of coaching talent down at ULL. They will likely be favored to win the Sun Belt next year, and still have a few years of Terrance at QB. Hudspeth might be stunningly "off Broadway" when it comes to the national radar, but you can expect that to change awfully soon.