18 November 2012

Great day of college football

Getting set up in Lafayette.
I'm feeling good tonight after Forrest Conoly and I called Louisiana-Lafayette's come-from-behind win over Western Kentucky at Cajun Field in Lafayette. Good broadcast, good game, and we got to watch the entertaining end of the two big upsets at dinner afterward. How can you argue with a day like that?

This was our second trip to Cajun Field and our third broadcast of the Ragin' Cajuns, while we were seeing Western Kentucky for the first time. Still, I felt through research and talking to coaches from both teams, we had a good handle on both teams. It was nice to see some familiar faces before the game, and the staff from both sides did a good job of preparing us for a few things - Louisiana-Lafayette's black jerseys, some WKU lineup changes, etc.

Nobody warned me about the details of the Cajuns' black jerseys, however! They had a giant fleur de lis on the front, rather than numbers, which is a nightmare for broadcasters. There were mini numbers on the front up by the shoulder pads, but seeing those from a camera well is virtually impossible. It created a few challenges. The jerseys also had French words on the name plate, so I did my best to translate them on the fly. I got combattre (to fight), croire (to believe), and unité (unity), but I wasn't sure on fierté, which turned out to be pride. My bad.

Our open airs shortly before kickoff.
The open is the part of the broadcast where the focus is most on us as hosts. We're on camera and we're singling out storylines, rather than taking from what the game gives us. So naturally we take some pride in putting together something presentable. Our open wasn't 100-percent flawless, but it was definitely the best we've done this year. We ran through it once to get an idea of timing of graphics, and then we knocked it out. We laughed and had fun with some nicknames (Forrest dubbed UL receiver Harry Peoples "The Peoples Choice," which we used throughout the game) and, hopefully, established the game as a battle for bowl positioning. I said "blocked field goal" instead of "blocked punt" in reference to the Ragin' Cajuns' loss last week to Florida, but otherwise I thought we got our facts straight.

The game lived up to our expectations, with Western Kentucky controlling the ball through its dominant ground game and tailback Antonio Andrews (300+ all-purpose yards for the third straight game, leads the country.) Louisiana-Lafayette was effective too, largely thanks to the versatility of quarterback Terrance Broadway, but it looked like four turnovers would undo them. Leading by three late in the game, WKU elected to punt and pin Louisiana-Lafayette in its own end rather than go for it on 4th-and-1, which seemed uncharacteristic for head coach Willie Taggart. Seemed like a decent move when the punt was downed at the 7, but Broadway led the Ragin' Cajuns on a dramatic drive and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a quarterback draw in the final minute. (ESPN video)

A good night to work in college football.
That was exciting enough to call, with Cajun Field going nuts - the crowd noise in our headsets was crazy! But then Western Kentucky got into position for a pretty decent Hail Mary, but it was at the back of the end zone, and the receiver (actually the starting safety) was ruled out of bounds. WKU asked for a replay review, but for some reason it never came, and the only angle we saw was, unfortunately, not very clear.

A dramatic night and two teams that are very fun to call - I'll be rooting for them down the road.

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