UL’s wealth of experience to pay off with handful of starters out for bowl game

Sports

NEW ORLEANS, La (KLFY) — The Mike Desormeaux era officially begins on Saturday when Louisiana faces Marshall in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

The Ragin Cajuns are coming off their first-ever outright Sun Belt championship, riding the program’s longest win streak in history.

But the team that takes the field at the Caesars Superdome Saturday will look a bit different than the team that brought home the conference title. 

Aside from the coaching changes, five starters will not be available due to injury: defensive lineman Tayland Humphrey, running back Chris Smith, linebacker Ferrod Gardner, wide receiver Peter LeBlanc, and offensive lineman Max Mitchell. 

With the veteran leadership and wealth of experience on this team, Coach Desormeaux believes those stepping up are well-prepared. 

“The nature of this game is you’re going to have injuries,” Desormeaux says. “It’s unfortunate but that’s the way it works. Having that experience and those guys that have done it, played in games and played well in games, it makes you feel a lot better about it. The thing we talked to our team about was hey whoever steps between those white lines, they’ve gotta be ready to go and they’ve gotta be ready to represent. That’s just kinda what we’re built on is we just feel like there’s not gonna be any excuse from us about anything.”

“In practice, a lot of people play, even in games,” junior defensive lineman Zi’Yon Hill says. “A lot of d-linemen rotate. We all play. We’re prepared for this moment. It’s not anything new.”

“The great thing about the Louisiana program is that everyone plays,” junior tight end Johnny Lumpkin says. “Everyone gets the opportunity to play. The way we practice, everyone gets reps. Everyone gets good on good reps. Everyone is gonna be prepared. Everyone is gonna understand the game plan. We just gotta go execute and trust in one another.” 

“Quib, Kris, they’ve always stepped up,” junior linebacker Lorenzo McCaskill says. “They’ve stepped up this whole season. They’re great players and they’ve made a lot of plays for us to be rotating in. Guys have really stepped up.”

“In practice those guys get reps weekly,” senior quarterback Levi Lewis says. “Some of those peers, those guys get to spin. I get a feel for those guys in the game. It’s pretty much we’re picking up where we left off. It’s no off beat type of thing.”

The 12-1 Cajuns are 5-point favorites over 7-5 Marshall.

The showdown starts at 8:15 on Saturday night right here at the Caesars Superdome.

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