Video: The Ragin' Cajuns' New Orleans Bowl dominance faces a tough test in Nevada _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- UL-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth directs practice at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Wednesday in preparation for the New Orleans Bowl against Nevada. The game is at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Senior defensive back Corey Trim was in high spirits when he rejoined the team about one-third of the way through its first practice in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Wednesday.

Trim and his fiancée, Mykeyah Grafton, celebrated the birth of their daughter, Madison Michelle Trim, in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Trim said he was able to get as much rest as a new father could get before making the trip from Baton Rouge to New Orleans to practice with his teammates.

“This morning I was just holding her while my fiancé got to sleep,” said a beaming Trim. “I just rocked her to bed.”

Trim’s journey to New Orleans was interesting. At about the midway point between Lafayette and Baton Rouge, Grafton notified Trim that her water broke. The couple was expecting their daughter to be born next week, on Dec. 23.

So Trim sprang to action, calling his parents to arrange a pickup at an Interstate 10 exit, then clearing the quick change with the coaches.

But while Trim’s daughter may have scheduled the party earlier than everyone was expecting, she was fashionably late.

“I got there (to the hospital) around 2 (p.m.) expecting it, but she ended up taking her time to come in (after midnight),” Trim said. “She actually came in at 12:27. We were anxious to see her. She just took her little time coming.”

Trim had a hard time putting into words how much it meant to see his daughter’s birth, pausing for several seconds to gather his thoughts before saying: “I’ve been waiting for this moment to see her, and now I finally see her, I can’t find the words. But I’m very excited, and I’m going to be the best father I can be.”

Still, he got back into football mode pretty quickly.

He went through most of the Cajuns’ first official bowl-week practice and looked good, coach Mark Hudspeth said.

“I know he’ll want to make a memory this weekend, because this will be a great week that he’ll always remember,” Hudspeth said.

Trim already might have the best New Orleans Bowl track record of anybody on the team.

In his first New Orleans Bowl appearance last year, his 82-yard interception return for a touchdown gave the Cajuns a 21-0 lead on Tulane in a game they eventually won 24-21.

What would be the cherry on top this week?

“Oh, a win!” Trim said. “And a pick-six.”

How suite it is

Fans might’ve thought the Cajuns got the short end of the stick when they saw the players’ New Orleans bowl gift was a Fossil watch and the mysterious “gift suite.”

But the gift suite is, well, pretty sweet.

Here’s how it works: Players have eight “points” to use toward a set of gifts, each of which is assigned a point value. The gifts range from one to eight points each, with larger ticket items costing more points.

Players may select any combination of gifts available — there are roughly 40 options — as long as they stay within their eight-point limit.

Among the options: a plethora of headphones (ranging from one to six points), a Yeti cooler (five points), a choice of two leather recliners (six points), various video game packages with year-long subscriptions (four points), a Trek bicycle (seven points) and a memory foam mattress (eight points).

Players picked their gifts after Tuesday’s practice, and the gifts the players selected will be shipped back to them in Lafayette.

Dome sweet dome

Six of seven is a pretty good rate for a kicker, but this isn’t about Hunter Stover’s success rate on field goals.

The New Orleans Bowl will represent the sixth time in the past seven years Stover’s season has ended in the Superdome.

Stover’s last two Notre Dame High School teams made it to the state finals, which happen at the Superdome every year. The only year Stover hasn’t been to the Superdome was his freshman season, the year before Hudspeth arrived.

“Not everybody is from Louisiana, so they don’t realize how awesome it is to come over here and play for the state championship,” Stover said. “Every year, the goal for the year is to make it to the Dome. It’s the same thing in college. I really wouldn’t know where else to end the year than in the Dome.”