2011 ULM Preview
ULM S Darius Prelow
CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - ULM Warhawks
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Death, taxes, and ULM not coming up with a winning season.
Head coach: Todd Berry
2nd year: 5-7
10th year overall: 34-67
Off. 21, Def. 23, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 19
Ten Best ULM Players
1. WR Luther Ambrose, Sr.
2. QB Kolton Browning, Soph.
3. LB Cameron Blakes, Jr.
4. DE Ken Dorsey, Sr.
5. S Darius Prelow, Sr.
6. LB Jason Edwards, Sr.
7. DE Troy Evans, Sr.
8. OG Jonathan Gill, Jr.
9. WR Tavarese Maye, Soph.
10. OT Anthony Montgomery, Sr.
Sep. 3 at Florida State
Sep. 10 Grambling State
Sep. 17 at TCU
Sep. 24 at Iowa
Oct. 1 OPEN DATE
Oct. 8 Arkansas State
Oct. 15 at Troy
Oct. 22 at North Texas
Oct. 29 WKU
Nov. 5 at Louisiana
Nov. 12 Middle Tenn.
Nov. 19 FIU
Nov. 26 OPEN DATE
Dec. 3 at Florida Atlantic
Why even play the season? We know what's going to happen.
Since making the move up to the D-I/FBS level in 1994, ULM has yet to come up with a winning season, but it's not like the program has been bad. Over the last seven years, the team has been among the land of the pretty good, occasionally going 6-6, more often finishing with a losing record, but missing the total disaster of a campaign that plagues most Sun Belt programs from time to time.
This is finally going to be the year, right? This is going to be when Charlie Brown finally kicks the ball and ULM is finally able to be a real, live player in the Sun Belt race up until the very end. Can Todd Berry be the coach to make it happen?
After taking over the head coaching gig from Charlie Weatherbie, Berry made some adjustments, came up with a few key changes, and did a generally decent job, and the team came up with its typical non-winning season. Now the pressure will be on for Berry to show he can win. He had two decent seasons at Illinois State in the late 1990s, but was a disaster at Army and managed to get back into the mix to snag the ULM gig. At the FBS level, Berry has gone 10-43 and has yet to come with a winning campaign. With a loaded team returning, the coach who can't come up with winning seasons has to take the program that can't come up with a winning season and make it a winner.
ULM has one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in Kolton Browning, a strong playmaker with a live passing arm. He has a lightning fast, experienced group of receivers to work with, led by one of college football's fastest receivers, Luther Ambrose. The poor offensive line of last year is loaded with starting experience and can't help but be stronger, while there's just enough talent at running back to add more balance to the attack.
The 3-3-5 defense that led the Sun Belt in stopping the run will be tremendous on the ends and has two killers at linebacker in Jason Edwards and Cameron Blakes to load up on tackles. The veteran secondary isn't big and doesn't have a slew of playmakers, but it can move and has just enough talent, highlighted by safety Darius Prelow, to hope for more production and more consistency.
Yes, the pieces are finally in place for a run at the Sun Belt title, but the program is still building. This is still a young team at some key spots, but 11 seniors are back as starters. ULM football has gone long enough without producing a winner, and now Berry has to show why he really was the right guy to get the program over the hump.
What to watch for on offense: The maturation of Kolton Browning. He's not all that big and he's not a superior runner, but he finished second on the team in rushing and he turned in a great finishing kick last year. Now the sophomore quarterback has to cut down on his interceptions and utilize all the weapons and playmakers he has at receiver. Everyone is back in the receiving corps, and the line will provide more time after struggling to find the right combination last season. Browning will benefit and should be a 3,000-yard passer if everything goes right.
What to watch for on defense: More of a pass rush from the outside. It's not like ULM was a terror into the backfield, but the aggressive defense got the job done at coming up with big plays from the front six. With DE Troy Evans back and healthy after missing most of the first part of last year, and with squatty Ken Dorsey on the other side, the front three should be on the quarterback on a regular basis. Throw in the speed and pass rushing burst to linebacker Cameron Blakes, and a few backup linebackers who can fly, and everything should be in place for the D to be as disruptive as the coaching staff was hoping for last year.
The team will be far better if … The offensive line can settle on the right combination. Injuries were an issue for the ULM front five as the coaching staff seemingly had to tinker around with the lineup on a weekly basis. Part of the problem was the coaches' inability to settle on some of the right positions, and while many of the blockers are trained to be versatile, that only opened up questions on where to put everyone. After going with six different starting combinations, and with six players with significant starting experience returning, the key to the season could be finding the right starting five immediately and rolling with it without tinkering.
The schedule: There's a tune-up game against Grambling as an oasis for what should be a rough September. Forget about road games against Florida State, TCU, and Iowa, but at least the Warhawks will see some talented teams to see just how good they are. They'll know where they stand right away in Sun Belt play starting out with Arkansas State at home before going on the road for the huge game against Troy. The battles with Middle Tennessee and FIU are both at home, but closing out at Florida Atlantic could be tough.
Best offensive player: Senior WR Luther Ambrose. Browning is the star of the offense, but Ambrose is the best player. The 5-8, 181-pound senior has made 111 career tackles and has been a decent return man, and now he should explode into a Sun Belt superstar. ULM has just enough talent and speed at receiver to take the focus off Ambrose, who should be the ultimate deep threat with sprinter's speed – he's a star on the track – and with good hands. He's a true No. 1 target.
Best defensive player: Junior LB Cameron Blakes. He might not have led the team in tackles, and safety Darius Prelow, end Ken Dorsey, and linebacker Jason Edwards are among the team's top players, but it's the speedy Blakes who should be the star. He led the team in sacks, finished second on the team in tackles, and was second in tackles for loss. Working on the outside, he's a dangerous disruptive force who can fly into the backfield and drop into pass coverage with equal ease.
Key player to a successful season: Sophomore NT Kentarius Caldwell. The defense led the Sun Belt in run D over the last two seasons, and while the ends in the 3-3-5 will be strong and productive, the line needs an anchor in the middle. The 254-pound Caldwell, and 6-2, 266-pound Emmanuel Jefferies, aren't big and aren't built like nose tackles, and they'll get beaten on. If these two can form a solid rotation, then the stars on the outside should dominate and become all-stars.
The season will be a success if … ULM comes up with a winning season. Grambling State, Arkansas State, at North Texas, WKU, at Louisiana-Lafayette, Middle Tennessee, and at Florida Atlantic; the Warhawks are better than all those teams and should be favored in all of those games. They should probably beat FIU at home, too. With the talent returning and the right schedule, seven wins is a must.
Key game: Oct. 15 at Troy. ULM has had more success against the perennial Sun Belt powerhouse than anyone else, winning two of the last three meetings including a 28-14 stunner last season. Assuming the Warhawks can beat Arkansas State at home in the Sun Belt opener, beating Troy would set the tone for the rest of the conference season and would show that they might be the top dogs in the race.
2010 Fun Stats:
- ULM Scoring: First Three Quarters: 142 – 4th Quarter: 101
- Penalties: ULM 96 for 790 yards – Opponents 67 for 524 yards
- Time of Possession: ULM 32:08 – Opponents 27:52
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2011 ULM Defense |
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- ULM Previews 2010 |