ULL aims to spoil Tulane's postseason return
Nick Montana has a chance to play his first bowl game in the same stadium where his famous father, Joe, won a Super Bowl.
That is, if he's healthy enough to take the field for Tulane in Saturday night's New Orleans Bowl.
If Montana can't go, the Green Wave (7-5) won't get any sympathy from Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4), which is in a similar predicament. Ragin' Cajuns starting quarterback Terrance Broadway hasn't played since breaking his right arm on Nov. 30 in a loss to Louisiana-Monroe.
Coach Mark Hudspeth doesn't sound optimistic that the right-handed Broadway will be ready.
''He's trying. He's just a long way away,'' Hudspeth said. ''We'll see when game time gets here who we decide to run on the field. The question if we put him in, can he be effective if he's not 100 percent? ... You just wonder if he survives if he gets hit on that arm.''
Montana has been beaten up playing behind a young offensive line. His throwing shoulder has bothered him much of the season.
''He's just not as healthy as we'd like him to be, but he's going to fight and he's going to play. He's one of the toughest guys I've ever been around,'' Tulane coach Curtis Johnson said. ''How much he's going to play is going to depend on what we see.''
Redshirt freshman Devin Powell has backed up Montana this season, and Hudspeth said his defense was preparing for both Wave QBs.
''It won't be a surprise to see either of them,'' Hudspeth said. ''I'm sure they'll go with the one who ends up being the most effective.''
Redshirt freshman Brooks Haack took over for Broadway after his injury.
Even with all the quarterback uncertainty, Johnson doesn't see too much mystery surrounding the approach both offenses will take.
''It'll probably be a quick game because we'll both run the ball,'' Johnson said.
Here five things to know about the New Orleans Bowl:
DOME ADVANTAGE?: The New Orleans Bowl is played in the Superdome, which has also served as Tulane's home field for nearly four decades. This was the final season for the Green Wave in the dome before moving into a new on-campus stadium. But while Tulane gets one extra game on its current home field, the Ragin' Cajuns don't expect to find themselves in a road-game environment. ULL's campus is just more than a two-hour drive west, and Cajun fans have turned much of the dome into a sea of red for the last two New Orleans Bowls. The same is expected this year. Fans of both teams have combined to buy more than 50,000 tickets.
EXPERIENCE GAP: Accustomed as Tulane may be to playing in the Superdome, it's been more than a decade since the Green Wave has been to a bowl. Tulane's last postseason appearance was in the 2002 Hawaii Bowl, where the Wave beat Hawaii. Tulane then endured 10 straight losing campaigns before what is now Johnson's second season. ''None of our kids know anything about a bowl, so this is an exciting time,'' Johnson said.
REVENGE FACTOR: These teams met last year during the regular season in Lafayette. The Cajuns won 41-13. ''They did take us to the woodshed,'' Johnson said. ''They are a good, good football team.'' Hudspeth dismissed last year's result as an indicator of how the teams match up this time. ''It's a totally different Tulane team,'' Hudspeth said. ''Coach Johnson has done a phenomenal job this year with their defense ... and take care of the ball, which to me are the biggest keys to success.''
GROUND GAMES: Louisiana-Lafayette's ground game averages 207.6 yards, led by Alonzo Harris (883 yards, 13 TDs) and Elijah McGuire (823 yards, seven TDs). Tulane has averaged 128.1 yards per game, led by Orleans Darkwa (780 yards, nine TDs.)
DEFENSIVE WAVE: Tulane's dramatic improvement over its two-win 2012 campaign can be traced to its defense. The Green Wave allowed 119.2 yards rushing, which ranks 16th nationally. Tulane also has 17 interceptions and 16 fumble recoveries. ''We know we're really good on defense,'' said junior safety Sam Scofield, a Lafayette native who was recruited by the Cajuns.