New Orleans Bowl 2012: La.-Lafayette vs. East Carolina TV Info and Predictions

Jonathan McDanal@@jdmcdanalContributor IIIDecember 3, 2012

New Orleans Bowl 2012: La.-Lafayette vs. East Carolina TV Info and Predictions

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    This year's New Orleans Bowl pits the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns against the East Carolina Pirates. East Carolina had a banner year in Conference USA, finishing with an 8-4 record to earn its first bowl trip since 2010.

    Louisiana-Lafayette earned its second trip to the New Orleans Bowl in a row off the same 8-4 performance in the Sun Belt. Each team brings something to the table that could win it the game.

    Check out the key players and matchups as we assess and preview the 2012 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

Gameday Info

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    Where: New Orleans, Louisiana at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome

    When: Saturday, Dec. 22 at noon

    TV: ESPN

    Radio: ESPN Radio

    Live Streaming: ESPN3 (Subject to blackout)

    Betting Line (via pregame.com): Louisiana-Lafayette -5

Key Storylines

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    East Carolina's Ruffin McNeill just led East Carolina to one of its better seasons in recent memory in only his third year. McNeill was a starting defensive back for the Pirates back when Pat Dye was the head coach.

    The big storyline through East Carolina's 2012 season has been McNeill. Can he cap off ECU's season with a win over Louisiana-Lafayette? With ECU's impending move to the Big East, the answer to that question will have more than just immediate implications.

    On the Ragin' Cajun side of the football, the biggest tale is Houston quarterback transfer Terrance Broadway. After serving his transfer year on the bench, he will have the opportunity to contribute to the atmosphere he saw last year when the Ragin' Cajuns won this same New Orleans Bowl.

    For Louisiana-Lafayette, this is the first back-to-back set of bowl trips in school history. To punctuate that accomplishment by winning both would be awesome for these seniors.

Louisiana-Lafayette Depth Chart and Injury Report

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    Louisiana-Lafayette returned 13 total starters from the 2011 season that helped the Ragin' Cajuns earn their trip to the New Orleans Bowl this year. Louisiana-Lafayette's depth chart, according to cfn.scout .com, is as follows (injury/suspension info from collegeinjuryreport.com):

    Offense

    QB 17 Blaine Gautier, Sr.
          8 Terrance Broadway, Soph.
     

    RB 46 Alonzo Harris, Soph.
         11 Montrel Carter, RFr.
     

    WR 9 Harry Peoples, Sr.
          7 Bradley Brown, Jr.
     

    WR 4 Javone Lawson, Sr. *INJURED (arm)
          84 Jamal Robinson, Soph.
     

    WR 87 Darryl Surgent, Jr.
            3 Devin Figaro, Soph.
     

    TE 85 Ian Thompson, Jr.
         86 Jacob Maxwell, Jr.
     

    LT 72 Leonardo Bates, Sr.
         62 Jarad Martin, Soph.
     

    LG 70 Mykhael Quave, RFr.
         78 Daniel Lemelle, Jr.
     

    C 71 Andre Huval, Jr.
       65 Terry Johnson, Soph.
     

    RG 67 Daniel Quave, Soph.
          69 Greg Siener, RFr.
     

    RT 76 Jaron Odom, Sr.
         68 Octravion Anderson, RFr.

     

    Defense
     

    DE 45 Emeka Onyenekwu, Sr.
         57 Chris Prater, RFr.
     

    NT 97 Jalen Fields, Jr.
         94 Justin Hamilton, Soph.
     

    DT 93 Cordian Hagans, Sr.
         92 Christian Ringo, Soph.
     

    BANDIT 7 Delvin Jones, Jr. *OUT FOR SEASON (personal reasons)
                 52 Dominique Tovell, RFr.
     

    ROVER 30 Le’Marcus Gibson, Sr.
                20 Will Burrowes, Jr.
     

    LB 34 Justin Anderson, Jr.
         23 Qyendarius Griffin, Soph. *SUSPENDED
     

    LB 59 Jake Molbert, Soph.
         53 Ryan Mosby, Jr.

    CB 2 Jemarlous Moten, Sr.
         41 Sean Thomas, Soph.

    FS 36 Rodney Gillis, Sr.
           5 T.J. Worthy, RFr.

    SS 11 Darius Barksdale, Jr. *SUSPENDED
          33 Trevence Patt, Soph.

    CB 22 Melvin White, Sr.
         20 Jevante Watson, RFr.

    Specialists

    PK 40 Brett Baer, Sr.
          92 Carlos Alvarez, Soph.

    P 40 Brett Baer, Sr.
       92 Carlos Alvarez, Soph.

East Carolina Depth Chart and Injury Report

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    East Carolina returned 14 starters of its own for the 2012 season, and the leadership was clear on the field. The season was a success, and the Pirates have a postseason berth to show for it. Here is the depth chart (via scout.com) for ECU (injury/suspension info from collegeinjuryreport.com):

    Offense

    QB 5 Shane Carden Soph OR
         13 Cody Keith  RFr OR
          9 Brad Wornick Sr
     

    RB 28 Reggie Bullock Sr
          35 Michael Dobson Jr
          -- Hunter Furr Jr
          34 Torrance Hunt Jr
         31 Chris Hairston RFr
     

    WR (Y) 2 Justin Hardy Soph
               84 Justin Jones  Jr
               86 Donte Sumpter RFr
     

    WR (Z) 19 Andrew Bodenheimer Sr
               85 Antonio Cannon RFr
               88 Brandon Weymann Jr
     

    WR (X) 15 Reese Wiggins Jr OR
                12 Dayon Arrington Sr *DISMISSED
     

    WR (H) 33 Danny Webster Soph OR
                24 Derrick Harris Jr
                83 Gray Mazzone Jr
     

    LT 57 Adhem Elsawi Jr
        69 Isaac Harris RFr
     

    LG 78 Jordan Davis Jr
         73 Drew Gentry Soph
          -- Jimmy Booth Jr
     

    C 74 Taylor Hudson Soph
       75 C.J. Struyk RFr
       71 Josh Clark Sr
     

    RG 70 Will Simmons Jr
          68 Tre Robertson RFr
          76 Stewart Hinson RFr
     

    RT 67 Grant Harner Jr OR
         55 Robert Jones Sr
         75 Chaz Lowery RFr

     

    Defense
     

    DE 58 Lee Pegues Jr OR
           5 Justin Dixon Jr *OUT FOR SEASON (knee)
         91 Terrell Stanley RFr OR
         94 Johnathon White RFr
     

    NT 92 Michael Brooks Sr
         54 Terry Williams Soph
         91 Terrell Stanley RFr
     

    DE 98 Matt Milner Jr
           9 John Lattimore Jr OR
         93 Chrishon Rose Soph
     

    OLB 56 Derrell Johnson Jr
             6 Chris Baker Sr OR
            45 Jake Geary Soph
     

    ILB 20 Kyle Tudor Jr OR
          59 Daniel Drake Sr
          43 Brandon Williams Soph
     

    ILB 53 Jeremy Grove Soph
          49 Ty Holmes Jr
          44 Zeek Bigger RFr
     

    OLB 48 Maurice Falls Soph
            51 Montese Overton RFr *INJURED (knee)
            27 James Craig Sr
     

    FC 8 Jacobi Jenkins Sr OR
          -- Adonis Armstrong Jr
         13 Kristopher Sykes Sr
     

    SS 7 Lamar Ivey Soph OR
          -- Godfrey Thompson Jr
         23 Desi Brown Soph 
     

    FS 11 Damon Magazu Jr
         32 Justin Venable  Sr OR
         30 Cody Lyon Sr
         22 Domonique Lennon RFr
     

    BC 25 Leonard Paulk Sr
          39 Rocco Scarfone RFr
           4 Detric Allen Soph
          37 Joshua Hawkins RFr

    Specialists
     

    PK 20 Warren Harvey Soph
           -- Shawn Williams RFr

    P 38 Trent Tignor Jr OR
       51 Phil McNaughton Sr

Louisiana-Lafayette Player to Watch

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    Player to watch: Harry Peoples, wide receiver.

    Peoples has caught 61 passes this season for 771 yards and five touchdowns. He's added 13 carries for 62 yards on the ground as well.

    Peoples hasn't been a key contributor in every game this season, but all three of his 100-yard performances were achieved in wins for the Cajuns.

    With over 800 total yards of offense and "only" five touchdowns, it's clear that Peoples has been the setup man for the Cajuns all season long. He may not be the leading scorer, but without his successful contribution to the team, the Cajuns would likely not be heading to a bowl at all.

East Carolina Player to Watch

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    Player to Watch: Vintavious Cooper, running back.

    Vintavious Cooper is the Pirates' leading rusher with 1,030 yards on 191 carries through the 2012 season. At 5.4 yards per carry, Cooper is a first-down machine.

    His ability to break off a big run is undeniably a contributing factor to ECU's successful season. Cooper has ripped off a run of at least 10 yards in 11 of the 12 games this season. In games where Cooper gains at least 100 yards, the Pirates are 3-1 on the season.

    Cooper's ability to wear down the Cajun defense will be invaluable in December. Cooper won't be the only player that needs to step up in order for the Pirates to win, but he will definitely be the biggest potential factor on the field for the Pirates.

    Cooper's success will set up East Carolina's passing attack by calling the defense forward to stop the bleeding. Without Cooper, ECU becomes one-dimensional and highly beatable.

Key Matchups

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    Louisiana-Lafayette on offense: Terrance Broadway vs. Jeremy Grove

    Jeremy Grove is the Pirates' biggest defensive factor. While the Pirates have a bit of weakness against the run and the deep ball, pressure on the quarterback can fix a lot of that. If Grove can take his inside linebacker position and use it to force Broadway into some bad decisions, ECU can capitalize on some early mistakes to get out ahead of the Cajuns.

    ECU on offense: Vintavious Cooper vs. Emeka Onyenekwu

    Onyenekwu leads the Cajuns with 12.5 tackles for loss. If the Cajuns are going to stop the Pirates from being successful, they must force ECU to be one-dimensional.

    If the Pirates get the rushing attack going, it will be a long game for the Cajuns. Stopping the rushing attack will be priority No. 1. If the Cajuns are smart, they'll have their best backfield presence assigned to Cooper all day long.

Louisiana-Lafayette Will Win If...

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    ...it's still in the game in the fourth quarter. The Ragin' Cajuns are no stranger to the comeback. They came back from a 27-17 deficit in the fourth quarter against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers via the heroics of quarterback Terrance Broadway. In fact, the Cajuns won last year's New Orleans Bowl in a comeback.

    If ECU isn't 21 points ahead at the start of the fourth quarter, the outcome is uncertain. If you let the Cajuns stay in the game, you're in for a long day. Staying in the game will be a battle for the Cajuns, as the Pirates will be attacking them with two 1,000-yard players (one on the ground and one through the air).

    If the Cajuns can simply hang on to stay in it in the fourth quarter, the "clutch" will kick in. Broadway and Peoples will go to work and bring home the victory. Against ECU's weaker secondary, Peoples and Broadway will be a key factor in the win.

East Carolina Will Win If...

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    ...it takes what the defense gives it. If ECU can balance the attack and take to the ground until Lafayette stacks the box, that will open up the passing game. In turn, if the Pirates can stretch the field to open up the run game, this could be a shootout by the second quarter.

    If ECU's defense can back up the offense with just a couple of stops, the Pirates can pull out the victory. It is mandatory that ECU doesn't force anything. If the Pirates decide on a target before the ball is snapped, this is going to be a brutal game for them.

    If the Pirates remain calm and take what the defense gives them, the talent is on the field to gouge the Cajuns for yardage and come away with the win. ECU has to come out of the gate strong and keep its foot on the gas.

Prediction

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    East Carolina and Louisiana-Lafayette are going to put on a major show. East Carolina's weaker secondary will provide the Ragin' Cajuns with plenty of passing success early on and the Pirates' rushing attack will allow them to keep pace.

    As the second half unfolds, this game will be about adjustments. Ruffin McNeill will provide plenty of defensive input that will allow the Pirates to stand strong in the second half. They won't shut the Cajuns out or anything, but they will create enough opportunities for the balanced offensive attack to make the difference.

    In the fourth quarter, it will be about defense. ECU's offense will have worn down the Cajuns' defense enough to eek out the win on the back of Vintavious Cooper and Justin Hardy. Harry Peoples and Terrance Broadway will put up a valiant fight, but ECU will come away with the hard-fought win.

    Prediction: ECU 38, Louisiana-Lafayette 31