LENDINGTREE BOWL NOTEBOOK
By Barry Allen, Media Relations
Louisiana and Miami Visit Children’s Hospital
MOBILE – One of the many activities of bowl week as the team’s out in the local community. On Friday, Louisiana and Miami spent time with local children and families as USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile.
Players from Louisiana and Miami split into four groups to visit a number of children throughout the hospital.
Louisiana wide receiver Bam Jackson said the teams were more than happy to visit and encourage the kids.
“It makes you appreciate the small things in life,” Jackson said. “These kids go through a lot. They go through more than anything I’ve ever been through in my life. It makes you appreciate the things that you do have, especially health-wise. That is something that a lot of us take for granted. A day like today puts things in perspective for us.
The players from both team pulled red wagons filled with t-shirts and stuffed animals to give to each of the children.
“They light up when we walk in the room,” Jackson added. “They are a little spooked because we are so huge but they light up. It makes their day. They are all excited. They get gifts from both teams. Just to see new faces, visitors coming to spend time with them, I think it means a lot to them.”
TEAMS HOLD FIRST PRACTICE IN MOBILE
Louisiana and Miami held their first practice in Mobile on Friday in preparation for Monday’s LendingTree Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Both teams worked for about 90 minutes in t-shirts and shorts at the South Alabama Indoor facility.
Miami true freshman quarterback Brett Gabbert said the Redhawks preparation has gone well to this point.
“It’s going really well,” Gabbart said after Friday’s workout. “We’ve had a long time between the Central Michigan game and this game. We’ve had a lot of time to prepare and get everything right before the game. We’ve done a great job on preparation while in Oxford and here.”
TEAMS BATTLE LONG LAYOFF
Louisiana and Miami will play the final bowl game of the 2019-20 college football season on Monday night at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
When the 2020 LendingTree Bowl kicks off at 6:30 p.m. (CT) on ESPN, it will have been 30 days since team played a football game.
Both coaches have been asked this week about the long layoff and how it might affect his team.
“I think it’s a unique opportunity,” Louisiana head coach Billy Napier said. “You certainly want to finish the season in the right way and gain momentum for the future and it does give you an opportunity to work on the bottom half of your roster. We turned the page (Wednesday) and got into our in-season, game-week type approach. It’s been an advantage and playing a little bit later gives us an opportunity to do some things better than we did last year.”
Miami has won seven of its last nine games and head coach Chuck Martin hopes the layoff will not affect his team’s momentum.
“I hope we can keep the momentum going, we have had a really, really good year,” Martin said. “I think we’ve won seven of our last nine games. We have been an underdog in every game but two all year, including our non-league games.”
Napier said he and his staff used the time to get extra work for some of the younger players.
“We practiced, what I would say, eight times that was devoted to ourselves, training camp and spring practice-type work. I thought we saw some players; the younger players in particular, make some progress and get better. We have some veteran players that we managed throughout that that time.”
MIAMI MAKING THIRD LENDINGTREE BOWL APPEARANCE
Miami is making its third appearance in the LendingTree Bowl.
The Redhawks are 2-0 in their previous two appearances with wins over Louisville and Middle Tennessee.
Miami defeated Louisville 49-28 in Ben Roethlisberger’s final collegiate game on Dec. 18, 2003. Roethlisberger threw for 376 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Miami (13-1) closed the season with a 13-game winning streak, the longest in the nation that year. After a season-opening loss to Iowa, Miami rebounded to match its longest winning streak since 1972-74.
Miami defeated Middle Tennessee 35-21 on Jan. 6, 2011. Austin Boucher threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns and Thomas Merriweather added 1000 yards and two rushing touchdowns. The victory made the Redhawks the first team in FBS history to go from double-digits losses (1-11 in 2009) to double-digit wins (10-4 in 2010). Miami also finished with an eight-game turnaround, the second-best effort in FBS history.
Overall, Miami is playing in its 10th all-time bowl game. The Redhawks own a 5-4 record. Miami is making its first bowl appearance since the 2016 St. Petersburg Bowl. Miami is seeking its first bowl since beating Middle Tennessee in Mobile during the 2010 season.
Miami posted a 32-1-1 record from 1972-74 under Bill Mallory (1972) and Dick Crum (1973-74). The Redhawks won three straight Tangerine Bowls with wins over Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
Louisiana is making its LendingTree Bowl debut this season.
Overall, Louisiana is playing in it seventh bowl game, all coming since the 2011 season.
The Ragin’ Cajuns won four straight bowl games from 2011-14. Louisiana made its bowl debut with a 32-20 win over San Diego State in the 2011 New Orleans Bowl. Louisiana lost in the 2016 New Orleans Bowl and 2018 AutoNation Cure Bowl.