’Canes headed to In­de­pen­dence Bowl

Diaz: Team is look­ing for­ward to play­ing Louisiana Tech in Shreve­port on Dec. 26

Orlando Sentinel - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - By David Furones

It will in­deed be Shreve­port, Louisiana, and the In­de­pen­dence Bowl for the Mi­ami Hur­ri­canes this col­lege bowl sea­son.

UM will play against Louisiana Tech in a 4 p.m. kick­off on Dec. 26 in Shreve­port’s In­de­pen­dence Sta­dium, it was an­nounced on Sun­day.

Mi­ami’s In­de­pen­dence Bowl selec­tion, which fell in line with var­i­ous pro­jec­tions, is a dis­ap­point­ment af­ter the Hur­ri­canes fell deep into the al­lot­ment of At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence-af­fil­i­ated bowl games by end­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son with losses to FIU and Duke to fin­ish 6-6.

Be­fore those two de­feats, there was talk of Mi­ami po­ten­tially end­ing up in the Orange Bowl if UM won out to fin­ish 8-4, Clem­son made the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off and no other ACC team ended up ranked in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off ’s fi­nal top 25, al­low­ing the Orange Bowl to select its ACC rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

“We are look­ing for­ward to the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in the Walk-On’s In­de­pen­dence Bowl,” said UM ath­letic direc­tor Blake James in a state­ment. “The bowl’s staff and the peo­ple of Shreve­port al­ways put on a ter­rific show for the vis­it­ing teams and this prom­ises to be a fun ex­pe­ri­ence for both our stu­dent-ath­letes and our fan base.”

The Hur­ri­canes last played in the In­de­pen­dence Bowl af­ter the 2014 sea­son, los­ing to South Carolina, 24-21.

“We’re look­ing for­ward to fac­ing Louisiana Tech in the WalkOn’s In­de­pen­dence Bowl,” said Mi­ami coach Manny Diaz in a state­ment. “We are work­ing hard to fin­ish strong with this re­cruit­ing class be­fore turn­ing our full at­ten­tion to se­cur­ing a vic­tory for this team.”

Mi­ami has al­ready had two de­fen­sive ends opt to sit out the bowl game. Red­shirt se­nior Trevon Hill and ju­nior Jonathan Garvin, who will be declar­ing early for the 2020 NFL draft, have hired agents and be­gun their prepa­ra­tion for the draft process.

UM will also be miss­ing ju­nior run­ning back DeeJay Dal­las, who Diaz al­ready de­clared out for the bowl game with an el­bow in­jury sus­tained in the loss to FIU on Nov. 23 at Mar­lins Park. Dal­las also has an im­pend­ing de­ci­sion to make on whether to de­clare for the draft or re­turn for a se­nior sea­son.

Louisiana Tech’s cam­pus is 70 miles away from In­de­pen­dence Sta­dium. The Bull­dogs, of Con­fer­ence USA, reached the In­de­pen­dence Bowl as a re­place­ment team for the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence, which had fewer bowl-el­i­gi­ble teams than its al­lot­ment. They fin­ished their reg­u­lar sea­son 9-3, in­clud­ing a 43-31 win over FIU.

There are coach­ing con­nec­tions be­tween La. Tech and UM. Diaz was de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor there in 2014. That year, cur­rent Mi­ami de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Blake Baker was Diaz’s safeties coach. Baker then spent the next four sea­sons as the Bull­dogs’ de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor be­fore re­unit­ing with Diaz in Coral Gables this sea­son.

BRYNN AN­DER­SON/AP

The Mi­ami Hur­ri­canes will play Louisiana Tech in the In­de­pen­dence Bowl on Dec. 26.

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