Every season, 84 teams have the opportunity to play in a bowl game. It’s an opportunity to celebrate your players and the season you’ve had. It also provides the chance for your fans and players to travel and play an opponent you don’t play often.
For the Cajuns, the travel won’t be far as they’re heading to Shreveport. The opponent will be a familiar one, but they haven’t met up in sixteen years. Louisiana will meet up with Houston in the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl Friday at Independence Stadium.
“We’re really excited about it. This week in Shreveport has been great for our kids. The one thing that’s fun about our team is that they enjoy spending time together. They enjoy being around each other, and these bowls games are a reward for a job well done” head coach Michael Desormeaux said Thursday during the pre-game press conference. “It’s an opportunity for them to spend more time together. This week has been a lot of fun and I’ll let these guys talk about it a bit. It’s really about them. They’re the ones who earned this opportunity. So, we’re going to get ready to go and Friday we’ll go out there and go play. It’s the last opportunity for this team to put it on display. So, we’ll be ready to go and see what we can do on Friday.”
The Cajuns will be led by seniors Zi’Yon Hill-Green and Chris Smith as they will look to end their careers in the Vermilion and White with a bowl win.
There are plenty of factors in the contest that can affect this game, but weather may be the biggest of all. The temperature at kickoff in Shreveport is expected to be 24°, one of the coldest games in the history of the program.
“For the weather, we have been in worse conditions and played in worse conditions. It can either be a good thing or a bad thing. It is a mental thing when you are playing football in the weather. It is going to be a little chilly. I will have a long sleeve on, but we are going to be perfectly fine” said Hill Thursday.
Houston comes into this matchup with a high-powered offense led by quarterback Clayton Tune and of course head coach Dana Holgerson and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson.
“I think it starts with coach (Dana) Holgorsen and coach (Shannon) Dawson. Those guys are really, really talented offensive minds and have coached good ball everywhere they’ve been and they do a great job” Desormeaux said. “The quarterback (Clayton Tune) is extremely talented. He’s got arm talent, he’s athletic, he can run, he can get out of the pocket. The receiver (Nathaniel Dell), he’s just one of those guys you get the ball to in space and he’s hard to get on the ground. They don’t turn the ball over a whole lot. The quarterback makes good decisions which is always a key part of it, particularly when you throw it as much as they do. You can tell those guys have a chemistry.”
Tune has thrown for nearly 3800 yards and 37 touchdowns but has 10 interceptions on the season. He’s also the leading rusher for the Cougars with 491 yards on the ground. One major positive for Houston is they will have a full roster with no opt-outs.
“They love playing the game. It’s exhausting to read about that. It’s exhausting to talk about that” said Holgerson Thursday. “This is a football game, man. And we’re a football team. So, you know what you do is you play football with your brothers and your teammates. Regardless of what it is, where it is. You know, I can understand when there’s like an injury situation or like last year, you know, Marcus [Jones] and Logan [Hall] were injured and so they both had surgery in preparation for their NFL career, I get that. I mean that’s part of the game. Injuries are part of the game.”
This will be the tenth meeting between the two programs, with the most recent coming in 2006. Both teams have struggled to meet preseason expectations and will be looking to finish 2022 on a strong note.