When the depth chart for the Independence Bowl game out this afternoon, it read “Jarren Williams, or N’Kosi Perry, or Tate Martell.” The wording was not a hyperbole. Redshirt freshman quarterback Jarren Williams was pulled in the second quarter after the Canes looked stagnant on offense and fell behind to the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 7-0. The Hurricanes even squandered a 33-yard punt return from K.J. Osborn. The Ohio State Buckeyes transfer Tate Martell got his chance to show what he can do in the second. He lead a series of aimless quarterback scrambles and nothing. Jarren Williams returned during the quarter but the offense continued to sputter. Williams threw an interception on the last play of the third quarter. Thankfully, Gilbert Frierson’s fourth quarter interception stopped LA Tech from capitalizing off of the Canes’ mistake. On the series following the pick, N’Kosi Perry entered the game. He entered the interception party with 3:22 in the fourth quarter. It was truly a putrid and uninspiring Canes performance on offense. The game’s final score was 14-0.
First Star: Gregory Rousseau
Perennially in the backfield, Gregory Rousseau continued his sack assault in the bowl game. The Miami pass rush was a huge reason why the Canes contained a statically streaking offense. LA Tech’s 14-0 victory was hard to come by after a great and assaulting day by Rousseau. His phenomenal ability to bend, his pursuit, and length were all on display. He finished with three sacks in the game.
Second Star: Shaquille Quarterman
Despite the struggles of the offense, the defense continued to answer the call throughout the game. Shaquille Quarterman defensive prowess and leadership showed up on every snap. A tackling machine, Quarterman’s playmaking ability was infectious. Young playmakers like Sam Brooks Jr. looked at home next to Shaq. LA Tech finished with a far from average rushing and passing performance. Quarterman gave a speech to the Canes defense at the start of the fourth quarter. He truly left his heart on the field in his last game as a Cane.
Third Star: K.J. Osborn
The only person offensively committed to doing anything offensively today was K.J. Osborn. To be fair, the other playmakers weren't given the opportunity to showcase their ability because of erratic quarterback play. Osborn consistently caught his targets and helped flip field position with his return ability.
Honorable Mention: The Rest of the Defense
The Hurricanes defense kept the Canes in striking defense during the entire game with their tremendous play. Miami maintained a great pass rush and pressured the J’mar Smith relentlessly. When Gilbert Frierson picked off Smith in the fourth quarter, the defense did their best to spark life into the Canes. Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t find a pulse.
This marathon of a season is finally over. The Canes need a lot of work in several areas. Manny Diaz claimed that the Independence Bowl was a “bridge game”. Personally, I don’t want to carry anything from this matchup into 2020. Leave the offensive woes, quarterback shuffle, endless punting, shutout, and the coaches who sustain it all in Shreveport.