Cajuns, Pirates eagerly await New Orleans Bowl

Cajuns, Pirates eagerly await New Orleans Bowl

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Even as quarterback Terrance Broadway celebrated Louisiana-Lafayette's first bowl victory at college football's highest level one year ago, there was a part of him left unfulfilled.

``All I was doing was watching, and that hurt,'' said Broadway, who as a 2011 transfer from Houston could practice but not play last season. ``I had practiced all year, ran the scout team, but (did) not have the whole bowl experience. ... Now I have another opportunity, and we're going to try to make the most of it.''

That opportunity comes Saturday afternoon when the Ragin' Cajuns (8-4) of the Sun Belt Conference make their second straight appearance in the New Orleans Bowl, this time against East Carolina (8-4) of Conference USA.

Broadway, a sophomore, was supposed to serve as ULL's No. 2 QB this season behind senior Blaine Gautier. But when Gautier broke his throwing hand in late September, Broadway stepped in and put up some of the best all-around numbers ever seen from a Cajuns quarterback.

Broadway had 2,526 yards and 16 TDs passing to go with 661 yards and eight TDs rushing.

So while East Carolina's Ruffin McNeill sees himself as a defensive-minded coach, he concedes the New Orleans Bowl could turn into a high-scoring shootout, with each team approaching its 2012 scoring average of more than 30 points.

``With both explosive offenses, there's a chance for that to happen,'' McNeill said. ``In a game such as this, there'll be some momentum shifts. So I think it's important for us to understand that.''

The Pirates have demonstrated they can respond when things go wrong both within a game and within a season. In early October, a 40-20 drubbing at Central Florida dropped ECU to 3-3. Since then, the Pirates have won five of six, capped by a 65-59 victory over Marshall in their regular-season finale.

``This group has really faced adversity well, handled it well, as well as any success,'' said McNeill, a former ECU player. ``I like that about this team.''

He also likes the production he has gotten from sophomore quarterback Shane Carden, who like Broadway also can be a threat to run, and new running back Vintavious Cooper, who was named Conference USA Newcomer of the Year after transferring from Southwest Mississippi Community College.

Carden has passed for 2,838 yards and 21 TDs to go with eight touchdowns rushing. His top target has been Justin Hardy (1,046 yards receiving, 10 TDs). Cooper, who played quarterback in junior college, rushed for 1,030 yards and has averaged 114.4 yards rushing in his past five games, including a career-high 172 yards against Alabama-Birmingham.

``They can really score in bunches,'' Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth said. ``That scares you because they've been in some shootouts. Their quarterback can make plays with his legs; he can throw the ball down the field, and most important he can extend plays and get out of the pocket when you think you have him bottled up.''

Cooper said learning to read defenses as a quarterback helped him identify weaknesses in opponents' alignments before snaps on which he knows he'll get the ball. Still, he figured his adjustment to a new position at a higher level of football would take longer than it did.

``I've had a crazy year,'' Cooper said. ``I wouldn't expect what happened to me this year to happen.''

His success helped land ECU back in the Superdome, where the Pirates have already won once this season, defeating Tulane 28-23. Tulane was the one common opponent both New Orleans Bowl teams had this season. The Ragin' Cajuns beat Tulane 41-13 in Lafayette, which is a little more than a two-hour drive west of New Orleans on Interstate 10.

Fans from Lafayette helped set a New Orleans Bowl attendance record of nearly 43,000 last year. All signs point to them coming back in droves this season, making it a virtual road game for ECU.

``We heard about them winning last year and owning the Superdome,'' Cooper said. ``I love playing on the road. Nothing like being in front of 30,000 people who don't want you to do anything right. You look forward to being booed and you look forward to scoring touchdowns to shut that crowd up.''

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Need to Know: Redskins stock up-stock down during vs. Panthers

Need to Know: Redskins stock up-stock down during vs. Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, October 15, six days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

Talking points

Here are the players who saw their stock go up against the Panthers on Sunday and others who saw their stocks drop. 

Stock up—A few days ago, CB Josh Norman was a penny stock. He had mixed up assignments in the blowout loss to the Saints and take a ton of criticism after the game, much of it warranted. During the Panthers game, he was a blue chip. Norman got his first interception in 20 games and he forced a fumble. There is still a lot of season to be played but for now, at least it’s good to be Josh Norman.

Stock down—They won the game and that’s the quarterback’s main job. But for the second straight game, Alex Smith did not play up to his $18.4 million cap number. He passed for 163 yards. At times you really wondered where he was throwing the ball and/or to whom he was throwing it. They were able to win thanks to Adrian Peterson’s rushing and three takeaways. To Smith’s credit, he protected the ball well and it should be noted he was without favorite targets, Chris Thompson and Jamison Crowder. Regardless, it was not a sharp performance by Smith. 

Stock upPeterson came into the game with an injured ankle, knee, and shoulder. Not only did he fight through the pain, he thrived. Six days after he rushed for just six yards against the Saints and sat out most of the second half, he picked up 97 yards on 17 carries, an average of 5.7 yards per carry. Peterson did rip off a 19-yard run but mostly it was three yards here, six yards there. It was what the Redskins were expecting when the signed him. 

Stock down—With Thompson out, Kapri Bibbs had his big chance to show what he can do. He didn’t do much. Bibbs, who was promoted from the practice squad earlier this season, picked up 11 yards rushing on two carries and he caught one pass for six yards. There were some high hopes for Bibbs among Redskins fans. For today, he didn’t live up to them. 

Stock up—I know that Daron Payne didn’t make a ton of plays and his streak of games with at least one sack ended at two. But he was part of a defensive front that held Christian McCaffrey, who came into the game averaging 82.3 rushing yards per game (fourth in the NFL) and 5.2 yards per attempt, to 20 yards on eight attempts, a 2.5 per carry average. And he made a remarkable play, which is becoming routine for him, when he made the tackle on a tight end who had taken a screen pass well outside of the numbers. He’s a special talent and his stock will continue to rise. 

The agenda

Today: Open locker room 11:30; Jay Gruden press conference 3:00 

Upcoming: Cowboys @ Redskins 6; Redskins @ Giants 13; Redskins @ Eagles 49

Redskins news

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler is locked into the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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What Adrian Peterson did on Sunday really is absurd

What Adrian Peterson did on Sunday really is absurd

FEDEX FIELD -- Coming into Sunday's game, the Redskins listed Adrian Peterson as questionable for the game against the Panthers. 

And why wouldn't they?

The future Hall of Famer separated his shoulder last week in a loss to the Saints. In that same game, he got blasted in the knee on a play that many thought would cost Peterson the season. And before the Redskins bye, in a 120-yard effort in a win over the Packers, Peterson took a helmet directly off his ankle. 

Calling AP banged up for the Panthers game is unfair to banged up players. 

Peterson was hurt, from top to bottom. 

Yet, despite the injuries, he still went out and rushed for 97 yards on 17 carries, good for a 5.7 yards-per-carry average. 

"I had already made up in my mind Friday, 'Hey, I'm going to give it a go,' and I know it's going to be painful but it's mind over matter and keep pressing," Peterson said following the 23-17 Redskins win. 

"So that's what I ended up doing."

In a remarkable endeavor, Peterson was the most consistent player on the offense. Alex Smith played fine but not necessarily good.

The Redskins offense needs more from Smith, but couldn't even ask for anything else from Peterson. 

"I can't say enough about what he did today, playing through the pain of the shoulder and the knee," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said of Peterson. "What a pro. What a pro he is."

In the second half, when the Redskins pass game really fell apart, Washington leaned on Peterson even more. It wasn't pretty, but the team got enough to eat up possession and pad the lead with field goals. 

"Adrian Peterson ran hard," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said. "I think he created the opportunity for them down the stretch to control the clock a little bit."

Rivera is right. 

Without Peterson, the Redskins probably don't win on Sunday. 

And it's even more remarkable that none of this was supposed to happen. The Redskins seemed reluctant to even give Peterson a tryout after rookie Derrius Guice went down in the preseason. Guice was the plan, and Peterson wasn't even really the backup.

Back then, Gruden explained that Peterson was simply too impressive in his August workout for the team to do anything but sign him to the active roster. 

Now, five games into the season, averaging well more than 4 yards-per-carry and on pace to lead the Redskins in rush yards, it's hard to imagine what Washington's offense would look like without Peterson. 

Sure, he's 33-years-old, but he's also the Redskins most consistent offensive threat. 

Asked what surprised him during his team's loss, Rivera inadvertently summed up the Peterson experience.

"I don't think there was anything surprising. They're a good football team. They run the ball extremely well with Adrian."

Rivera is right.

The Redskins run the ball extremely well with Peterson.

Even with the separated shoulder, the busted knee, the bruised ankle. On Sunday, the Redskins ran the ball extremely well with Peterson.

And that says a lot about Adrian Peterson.