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New Orleans VooDoo game notes

February 8, 2005 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - New Orleans VooDoo News Release

QUICK FACTS
New Orleans VooDoo (1-1) vs. San Jose SaberCats (1- 1)
Site: New Orleans Arena (16,021)
Television: NBC (WDSU-6 locally) Allen Bestwick, Charles Davis and Rich Lenz
Radio: WWL (870-AM) Chris Kenyon and John Pease
Coaches: NO: Mike Neu (2nd Season in New Orleans, 3rd season overall, 18-14, regular season; 1-3 playoffs);
SJ.: Darren Arbet (7th season in San Jose and overall, 65-25, regular season; 9-3 playoffs)
Series Record: San Jose leads series 1-0

VooDoo TO FACE ArenaBowl CHAMPS IN HOME OPENER

The New Orleans VooDoo will face the defending ArenaBowl Champion San Jose SaberCats for their home opener on Sunday, February 13 at the New Orleans Arena. The VooDoo rebounded from a season opening loss by defeating the Nashville Kats on Friday, February 4, 59-34. Andy Kelly set a career-high in completion percentage (87.9%), as he completed 29-of-33 passes for 277 yards with six touchdown passes. OL/DL B.J. Cohen paced the VooDoo defense with two sacks, two tackles for a loss and an interception.

THE LAST MEETING

May 1, 2004; San Jose 68, New Orleans 34 - In a battle for the top spot in the Arena Football League, San Jose used 34 consecutive points from late in the first half into the third quarter as the SaberCats defeated New Orleans 68-34 in the HP Pavilion at San Jose. San Jose QB Mark Grieb threw five touchdown passes and the SaberCats defense intercepted New Orleans QB John Fitzgerald four times. VooDoo OS Aaron Bailey had seven receptions for 118 yards with one touchdown in his first matchup against his former team.

NEXT WEEK

The VooDoo will host the Philadelphia Soul on Sunday, February 20 at 11 a.m. The game can be seen live on NBC (WDSU-6 locally).

2005 SCHEDULE AND RESULTS

NEW ORLEANS VooDoo (1-1)
Date Opponent Time Result
Jan. 30 at Georgia 3 p.m. 44-46
Feb. 4 at Nashville 7:30 p.m. 59-34
Feb. 13 SAN JOSE 2 p.m.
Feb. 20 PHILADELPHIA 11 a.m.
Feb. 25 TAMPA BAY 7 p.m.
Mar. 5 at Dallas 7:30 p.m.
Mar. 13 ORLANDO 2 p.m.
Mar. 20 at Chicago 11 a.m.
Mar. 26 GEORGIA 7 p.m.
Apr. 1 at Austin 7:30 p.m.
Apr. 8-10 Bye Weekend
Apr. 16 COLUMBUS 7 p.m.
Apr. 23 at Grand Rapids 6:30 p.m.
Apr. 30 at Tampa Bay 6:30 p.m.
May 8 COLORADO 12 p.m.
May 14 AUSTIN 7 p.m.
May 20 at Orlando 6:30 p.m.

www.GoVooDoo.com

For updated news, press releases, statistics, rosters, players, coach and front office biographies, ticket information, merchandise, photo galleries and New Orleans VooDoo Dolls information, go to the official website of the New Orleans VooDoo, www.GoVooDoo.com. Updated daily, www.GoVooDoo.com has the most extensive information on the VooDoo and the Arena Football League.

THE COACHES

Mike Neu: The first head coach of the New Orleans VooDoo, Mike Neu is a six-year Arena Football coaching veteran.

Since being named coach of the VooDoo on June 17, 2003, Neu worked has worked tirelessly to make New Orleans a winning team. In his first season at the helm, he successfully molded a 24-man roster comprised of a mix of Arena Football League veterans and rookies, allowing the VooDoo to get off to a 7-1 start, one of the fastest starts for a firstyear AFL entry. Neu led the VooDoo to an 11-5 record, making them the only team in league history to win 11 games in their first season. The VooDoo's Southern Division title marked only the fourth time in AFL history that an expansion franchise has won their division in their first year of play. Following the season, Neu was named the Arena Football League Coach of the Year.

For his professional career, Neu has posted a 17-13 regular season record and has reached the playoffs every season as both a coach and a player in the Arena Football League. Neu came to New Orleans after serving as head coach of the Carolina Cobras. In 2002, Neu guided the Cobras to a 5-2 record on the road and their second-straight playoff berth. Carolina posted the first playoff victory in club history in 2002 as the club featured the AFL's fourth-ranked defense. As offensive coordinator with the Cobras in 2001, before being promoted to head coach prior to the team's first round playoff game, the Cobras averaged over 56 points a game (fifth in the league) and finished 7-7 (improving from a 3-13 record the year before).

Prior to coming to Carolina, Neu served as head coach and director of football operations for the Augusta Stallions of af2 in 2000. In his only season, Neu led Augusta to a 14-4 record, the American Conference title and was named the league's Coach of the Year. Augusta finished in the top four in every major offensive and defensive category. Neu started his AFL coaching career with Nashville in 1998, when he served as quarterbacks coach for the Kats and handled all play-calling responsibilities for the offense. The next year he was promoted to offensive coordinator and the Kats achieved their third consecutive playoff berth. The team also set franchise highs in six offensive categories, including scoring and total offense. Current New Orleans QB Andy Kelly, one of top quarterbacks in Arena Football League history, enjoyed a career-high passer rating of 116.4 under Neu's tutelage in 1999. Neu began his coaching career in 1994 as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Ball State.

Neu's professional playing career started with a stint with the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders in 1995 before joining the Orlando Predators in 1996 and moving on to the Nashville Kats in 1997. The 1997 Nashville squad which Neu played on won an expansion record 10 games, a record which was broken by this VooDoo just this past season.

Neu played four seasons at Ball State, where he was named the MAC Most Valuable Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year as a senior in 1993. A four-year starter, Neu guided Ball State to the conference championship his final year and holds school career passing records in passing yardage, passing attempts, completions and touchdown passes. He was recently voted to the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Neu and his wife, Charmin, have a daughter, Graycen and a son, Carson.

Darren Arbet: Coming off an ArenaBowl championship season and another year of double-digit victories, two-time Coach of the Year Darren Arbet enters season seven as head coach of the SaberCats in 2005. The success San Jose has enjoyed during his tenure has vaulted the franchise to elite status in the Arena Football League.

Last year the SaberCats claimed their second ArenaBowl title in the last three years and posted a league-high regular season win total for the third straight year. San Jose’s 11 victories in 2004 also marked the fifth consecutive season the team has won 10 or more regular season games matching an AFL record.

Arbet enters the 2005 campaign tied with John Gregory for 7th place in career coaching victories with 73 and his .730 (73-27) overall winning percentage is tops among coaches who have been involved in at least 25 games. Arbet also has the highest playoff winning percentage of any AFL coach (.750) and ranks fourth in playoff wins with nine. Last year’s ArenaBowl victory at Arizona was the 100th game of Arbet’s AFL career.

Orchestrating a six-game turnaround from the previous season and leading the SaberCats to a Western Division title, a league-best 12 victories and the first playoff win in franchise history earned Arbet Coach of the Year honors for a first time following the 2000 campaign. He was named the league’s top coach again in 2002 after leading the SaberCats to their first league championship by posting a record 13 regular season wins. San Jose started the season by winning its first 12 contests, also a league mark and capped it record setting run with the largest victory in ArenaBowl history, running off 45 unanswered points in a 52-14 win over the Arizona Rattlers on August 18, 2002.

Under the direction of Arbet, the SaberCats have claimed two league titles (2002, 2004), four Western Division titles (2000-03) and set league records for regular season wins in a season (13 in 2002), overall wins in a season (16 in 2002), consecutive regular season wins in a season (12 in 2002), regular season wins to end a season (11 in 2000) and the longest regular season win streak (15 in 2000-01. During the 2001 season, Arbet surpassed Todd Shell as the winningest coach in club history.

2004 AWARD WINNERS

Rita Benson LeBlanc.....Executive of the Year
Mike Neu...........Coach of the Year
B.J. Cohen........All-Bentley Team (NBC)
Dan Curran.......All-Arena (first team)
All-Ironman team
U.S. Army Ironman of the Month (February)
All-Bentley Team (NBC)
John Fitzgerald AFLWA Player of the Week (4/25)
Monty Montgomery Defensive Player of the Week (4/18)
Defensive Player of the Month (April)
Lamont Moore...Defensive Player of the Week (March 7)

THE VooDoo’s RECORD WHEN?

0-0 at home
1-1 on the road
Scoring Allowing
0-9 points 0-0 0-0
10-19 points 0-0 0-0
20-29 points 0-0 0-0
30-39 points 0-0 1-0
40-49 points 0-1 0-1
50-59 points 1-0 0-0
60-69 points 0-0 0-0
70-79 points 0-0 0-0
80+ points 0-0 0-0
1-0 vs. Central Division
0-0 vs. Eastern Division
0-1 vs. Southern Division
0-0 vs. Western Division
0-0 on Thursdays
1-0 on Fridays
0-0 on Saturdays
0-1 on Sundays
0-1 in January
1-0 in February
0-0 in March
0-0 in April
0-0 in May
0-0 in games televised on NBC
1-1 in games televised on Cox Sports Television
0-0 in games not televised
1-1 when leading after the first quarter
0-0 when tied after the first quarter
0-0 when trailing after the first quarter
1-0 when leading at the half
0-0 when tied at the half
0-1 when trailing at the half
1-0 when leading after three quarters
0-0 when tied after three quarters
0-1 when trailing after three quarters
0-1 outcome 7 points or less
0-1 outcome 3 points or less
0-0 overtime games
1-1 when the VooDoo scores first
0-0 when the opponent scores first
1-1 when the VooDoo has more total offense
0-0 when the VooDoo’s opponent has more total offense
1-1 when the VooDoo has more yards passing than opp.
0-0 when the VooDoo has less yards passing than opp.
0-0 when the VooDoo has same passing yards as opp.
0-0 when the VooDoo has more yards rushing than opp.
1-1 when the opp. has more yards rushing than VooDoo

2005 WEEKLY AWARD WINNERS

A listing of the weekly game award winners for 2005 VooDoo games

Offensive Player of the Game
Week 1: (at GEO): Troy Bergeron (GEO)
Week 2: (at NASH): Andy Kelly (NO)

ADT Defensive Player of the Game
Week 1: (at GEO): Dialleo Burks (GEO)
Week 2: (at NASH): B.J. Cohen (NO)

U.S. Army Ironman of the Game
Week 1: (at GEO): Robert Thomas (GEO)
Week 2: (at NASH): Thabiti Davis (NO)

WHAT A SEASON

Sparked by a 11-5 start, the VooDoo became the first team in Arena Football League history to win 11 games in their first season, surpassing the 10-4 record by the 1997 Nashville Kats.

TOPS AT HOME

Another contributing factor for the VooDoo’s 11-5 2004 record was their 7-1 home mark at the New Orleans Arena. New Orleans, the Colorado Crush and the San Jose SaberCats were tied for the best home record in the AFL.

WHAT A CROWD

Through their 8 regular season home games in 2004, the VooDoo attracted an average of 15,240 fans per game to the New Orleans Arena. New Orleans' average crowd ranked third in the AFL, led attendance figures for teams in the Southern division and is above the league's average of 12,019. The VooDoo enjoyed their two sellouts, their second being on May 30 when they attracted a standing room only crowd of 17,030 fans for the season finale with Austin Wranglers. Below are the top 10 season attendance figures.

Team Average Attendance
1. Philadelphia Soul 16,851
2. Columbus Destroyers 16,286
3. NEW ORLEANS VooDoo 15,240
4. Colorado Crush 15,233
5. Tampa Bay Storm 14,348
6. Chicago Rush 14,085
7. San Jose SaberCats 13,138
8. Orlando Predators 13,086
9. Arizona Rattlers 13,000
10. Los Angeles Avengers 12,590

GETTING DEFENSIVE

An important reason for the VooDoo's 11-5 inaugural season was the team's ability to keep the opposition out of the end zone on the defensive end. Through 16 games, New Orleans surrendered an average of only 45.1 points per game, putting them in second place in the Arena Football League in scoring defense. In the 14 games the week prior to playing the VooDoo (not counting the inaugural season opener at the Philadelphia Soul), VooDoo opponents had averaged 55.0 points on offense and were held to an average of 45.8 points by the VooDoo defense, a difference of - 9.2 points per game. The team has kept up the pace this season, surrending only 227.5 yards per game after two contests, giving them the league’s top ranked defense.

RECEIVING OPTION

WR/LB Thabiti Davis was signed from the Detroit Fury to fill the void of a tall wide receiver in the VooDoo offense. After enjoying career-highs in 2004 and finishing among league leaders with 127 receptions for 1557 yards and 26 touchdowns. Davis has so far been a big help to the VooDoo red zone offense, recording a team-high 16 receptions for 136 yards and four touchdowns. Currently, Davis is tied for 10th in the AFL in scoring among nonkickers (24), fifth in receptions, sixth in touchdown receptions, 12th in first downs (10) and 11th in third down receptions (2).

IMPACT PLAYER

OS Aaron Bailey made an immediate impact for the VooDoo offense. Bailey, a five-year AFL veteran who came to New Orleans from San Jose after spending his first two seasons playing under Mike Neu in Carolina, is among the AFL's leading receivers. In 2004, Bailey had 91 receptions for 1364 yards with a career-high 32 touchdowns. Bailey finished the season tied for fifth in the AFL in scoring among nonkickers (204), receiving touchdowns, ranked 13th in receptions, tied for first in receiving average (15.0 - min. 80 catches), ranked sixth in receiving yards, third in all-purpose yards (2333), eighth in first downs (76) and tied for sixth in third down receptions (17). This season, Bailey is once again ranked among AFL leaders with 13 receptions for a team-high 185 yards and two touchdowns, while returning seven kickoffs for 86 yards.

ANDY KELLY

QB Andy Kelly is considered one of the AFL’s premier quarterbacks and was signed by the VooDoo in the team’s stated offseason objective to improve their passing offense. Kelly is one of the league’s all-time passing leaders. He currently holds the AFL career passing records for completions (2925), attempts (4755) and passing yards (32,666) and is second all-time in touchdown passes (633). Kelly helped engineer squads in Nashville, Dallas and Detroit to playoff berths in seven consecutive seasons from 1997-2003 and helped lead the Kats to consecutive ArenaBowl berths from 2000-01. Kelly has started 121 consecutive games, the alltime record for consecutive starts by a QB.

B.J. COHEN

OL/DL B.J. Cohen’s leadership and high level of performance played a key role both on the field and in the locker room for the New Orleans VooDoo in 2004. Starting all 16 games last season, Cohen recorded 26 tackles, was tied for 10th in the league with four sacks and finished third with a career-high four forced fumbles. Cohen enjoyed one of the finest games of his career last Friday night at Nashville as he recorded 3.5 tackles, two tackles for a loss, one interception, one pass defense and two sacks for -6 yards.

VooDoo ON THE AIRWAVES

New Orleans VooDoo and Arena Football League fans will enjoy plenty of chances to watch the team both live and on various on radio and television programs throughout the 2005 season and the postseason.

Every VooDoo game will be heard on WWL-AM 870 or WSMB-AM 1350. Chris Kenyon will handle play-by-play. Selected media personalities and Saints players and coaches will serve as guest color analysts and Kenny Wilkerson will handle sideline duties. This week’s game will be broadcast on WWL. Saints defensive line coach John Pease will serve as a guest color analyst. WWL will also broadcast a weekly coaches show with VooDoo head coach Mike Neu on Tuesdays from 7 - 8 p.m., with Wilkerson as the show’s host. Due to the Mardi Gras holiday, this week’s coach’s show can be heard on Monday from 8-9 p.m.

Four of the VooDoo’s regular season games are scheduled to be broadcast by NBC and will be seen locally on WDSU Channel 6. Cox Sports Television is scheduled to broadcast eight games regionally. This week’s game will be broadcast live on NBC. Allen Bestwick will handle play-by-play, Charles Davis will do color and and WDSU sports director Rich Lenz will handle sideline duties. Selected media personalities and New Orleans Saints players and coaches will serve as guest color analysts throughout the season. Cox Sports Television will air “Inside VooDoo with Mike Neu” on a weekly basis, featuring a review of the last week’s game, preview of the upcoming game and player and coach features. The half-hour show can be seen on Friday, February 11 from 6:00-6:30 p.m. Kenyon will serve as the show’s host and Fanguy will do weekly player features.

VooDoo-SAN JOSE CONNECTIONS

New Orleans OS Aaron Bailey played for San Jose in 2003, appearing in four games and setting a career-high with five rushing touchdowns...VooDoo OL/DL Mike Landry spent part of the 2003 season and the 2004 offseason with the San Francisco 49ers...New Orleans OL/DL B.J. Cohen spent part of the 1999 season on the practice squad of the Oakland Raiders. Cohen and San Jose WR/LB James Roe went to training camp with the XFL’s Orlando Rage in 2001. Cohen and San Jose WR/DB Barry Wagner were teammates in Orlando in 1999. Wagner and VooDoo coach Mike Neu were teammates in Orlando in 1996. Bailey and Wagner were teammates with the Indianapolis Colts in 1994...New Orleans DS Monty Montgomery played cornerback and safety for the San Francisco 49ers from 1999- 2000...VooDoo OL/DL Abdul-Salam Noah was a threeyear starter at San Jose State and was selected by the VooDoo in the 2003 expansion draft from the SaberCats, who had owned the rights to Noah even though he had never suited up for them. Noah played for San Jose defensive coordinator Michael Church with the Spartans, where he held the same position. Noah and SaberCats OL/DL Albrey Battle, OS James Hundon and WR/LB Calvin Schexnayder were teammates with the XFL’s San Francisco Demons in 2001 and was a college teammates of San Jose WR/DB Rashied Davis and DS Omarr Smith...New Orleans DS Denario Smalls went to training camp with San Jose in 2002...VooDoo QB Andy Kelly and San Jose OL/DL Joe Jacobs were teammates in with the Charlotte Rage in 1995...Neu coached San Jose FB/LB Matt Kinsinger with the af2 Augusta Stallions in 2000. VooDoo WR/DB Lamont Moore and Kinsinger were teammates in Augusta...New Orleans OL/DL Tim Martin and San Jose OL/DL Chuck Reed were teammates with the Oklahoma Wranglers from 2000-01...VooDoo WR/LB Thabiti Davis and San Jose FB/LB George Williams were teammates with the New York Giants in 2000...New Orleans OL/DL Hans Olsen and San Jose OL/DL Jason Andersen were college teammates at Brigham Young...New Orleans WR/DB Carl Bond and San Jose WR/DB Jordan Younger were college teammates at the University of Connecticut.

Coach Neu Says

Excerpts from VooDoo coach Mike Neu’s postgame comments about the team’s win over the Nashville Kats and Sunday’s home opener vs. the San Jose SaberCats

(on if he was more satisfied with the team’s intensity on Friday) "Those guys responded to the challenge that was presented to them last week about coming out and playing. Last week we felt like we didn’t have enough effort down the stretch, but I was proud of the guys. They responded this week, played hard for four quarters. You saw guys flying around, making that extra block downfield. From the defensive side of the ball, guys were gang tackling, people were running to the football once it’s thrown and that’s what I want to see as a coach, defensive intensity."

(on if Nashville was very frustrated by New Orleans’ defensive performance) "No question, our guys did a great job from a defensive standpoint. To have three interceptions is great and especially to have them, two of them early in the football game like we did, certainly is a great job by our defense, given an extra possession for the offense. It would have been nice for us to capitalize on that second drive instead of the fumble on the one yard line going in. We need to find a way to finish that so it doesn’t come back to haunt us in the long run."

(on if Andy Kelly’s performance was extra special for him due to his ties to the Kats and the state of Tennessee) "I was happy for Andy. This was his former stomping grounds and an arena and a team that he’s played a lot of games with in his career. For him to have a career night like he did and complete 29-of-33 passes. Andy does a great job every single week. He just takes what the defense gives him. He’s not greedy. He’s willing to take the short stuff if they’re going to play loose in the secondary."

(on the matchup with San Jose in terms of it being the home opener and a championship caliber team) "You give them credit. They responded from a week 1 where they didn’t play very well. They got beat by 30 points against Tampa and they responded by blowing Las Vegas out yesterday by 34 points. San Jose will be ready coming in here. We’re excited because it’s our home opener and we want to excite the fans again like we did a year ago and want them to be excited about the VooDoo and the season ahead.”

(on if it’s going to be hard to top last year’s 7-1 home record) "We used the crowd to our advantage at home. We fed off the crowd. They created such an environment that was full of energy and we fed off of them every single week. We know it’s going to be tough to top that 7-1 record. We’re excited about that. We’re excited to get out in front of our home fans and hopefully we got some of the kinks worked out before take the field on Sunday."

(on how he stressed to the players to keep the feeling of week 2 and to remember what it feels like to win)"It’s a great point. What I said to the team in the locker room is that this is how it’s supposed to be done. You’re supposed to fly around for four quarters. You’re supposed to capitalize on some miscues by the other team and our defense put ourselves in position to get an early lead and this is how it’s supposed to be. You want to finish a team off when you have a chance to and that’s what we were able to do."

(on if it was safe to say that the performance in the Georgia game made him a little grumpy) "Yes, that’s fair and a safe assessment since I was a little disappointed with our effort after last weekend."

(on if the team did anything different at practice last week) "Our meeting the day after the game last week is what really set the tone for the week. I told them I wasn’t real happy with the effort and touched on what was wrong with what they did. I was proud of the guys. They responded to the challenge I presented to them. They had a good week of practice and they played for four quarters, which is what I really wanted to see. The effort really stood out on film. You see receivers downfield really trying to get an extra block to spring a guy. You see defensive players running all over the field, gang tackling and that’s what I want to see. That’s the kind of thing I want to see jump out on film. That’s what gets me excited on film. That’s what gets the other coaches excited on film."

(on if the lack of scrimmages or practices with other teams hurt them in week one) "It may have. I don’t want to lean on that as an excuse by any means, but I think certainly that we played last weekend’s game at a training camp intensity level instead of that game notch and it does. When you go against each other every day in practice and it gets old, you get tired of seeing the same faces. It probably does have somewhat of an effect on how we started last week’s game, but again, you don’t want to make any excuses. We came back this week after we had a game under our belt. Guys now understand what game speed is all about and they played that way."

(on if he gave a fiery speech at last week’s team meeting) "I didn’t toss anything, but let’s just say I wasn’t happy. The doors were closed and the trainer was in his office with his door closed and he could hear the whole speech between three sets of walls. I’m sure that will tell you in a nutshell of the volume of my voice the other day.”

(on if Kelly’s TD to interception ratio is what he’s looking for) “Andy’s seen every defense there is known to man. He did a great job the other night of taking what the Nashville defense gave him. We did not get greedy. They were playing very loose in the secondary and gave us a bunch of underneath stuff and we’ll be happy to take that, because I know that I feel and he feels that we have a great corps of receivers that are dangerous after the catch and those guys did a heck of a job the other night making plays and Andy did a great job in taking what the defense gave him.

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