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By Pete Fiutak
That was great. Now do it again.
coach: Todd Berry
4th year: 17-20
12th year overall: 46-80
Ten Best ULM Players
1. QB Kolton Browning, Sr.
2. C Josh Allen, Sr.
3. S Isaiah Newsome, Sr.
4. LB Cameron Blakes, Sr.
5. LB Ray Stovall, Jr.
6. WR Je’Ron Hamm, Sr.
7. WR Tavarese Maye, Sr.
8. S Cordero Smith, Jr.
9. DT Kentarius Caldwell, Sr.
10. DT Gerrand Johnson, Soph.
8/31 at Oklahoma
9/7 Grambling State
9/14 at Wake Forest
9/21 at Baylor
10/12 at Texas State
10/19 OPEN DATE
10/26 Georgia State
10/31 at Troy
11/9 Arkansas State
11/16 OPEN DATE
11/23 at South Alabama
11/30 at Louisiana
ULM came up with its first winning season since
rejoining the world of the FBS in 1994, so there’s
no complaining or nitpicking over a shocking 8-5
season with a jaw-dropping win over Arkansas, but if
this is all for real and there’s going to be some
staying power, the program has to pull up out of its
nosedive in a hurry.
The Warhawks were one of the biggest stories in
college football early on with the overtime win over
the Hogs, the thrilling overtime loss to Auburn and
the wild loss to Baylor. The offense didn’t slow
down with the blowout over Tulane on the way to a
five-game winning streak that included a key
overtime win over Western Kentucky, and then the air
came out of the balloon.
It wasn’t just losing quarterback Kolton Browning to
a leg injury against Louisiana-Lafayette, it was the
defense that struggled in the biggest games of the
season – considering where the year was headed – in
losses to the Ragin’ Cajuns and Arkansas State. But
just as the feel-good story of the Sun Belt was able
to continue, it all came unraveled in a stunning
45-14 clunker to Ohio in the first bowl game in the
Doing that once was fun, but the Independence
Bowl disaster against the Bobcats might have been
the humbling moment that showed just how far the
program still has to go to show staying power. Head
coach Todd Berry hasn’t known much success over the
course of his career, but last season the offense
clicked at a phenomenal level – coming up with 440
points after failing to get 300 in the previous two
years – and it has the potential to be even better
with eight starters returning including Browning and
four starters returning to the line.
The defense that struggled and sputtered against the
better offenses – allowing 40 points or more five
times – gets back nine starters with a great
rotation for the front three and some key players
returning from injury in linebacker Cameron Blakes
and Kentarius Caldwell.
For the first time there are real, live expectations
to do some very, very big things, and yeah, if the
perennial also-ran doesn’t win the Sun Belt title,
it’ll be a major disappointment.
What to watch for on offense: Can Jyruss Edwards and the
running backs get going? The ULM attack lives off
the midrange pass, and it should shine again with
Kolton Browning winging it around to a tremendous
receiving corps, but the less the quarterback is
running, the better. Edwards is a tough, quick back
who’s built to handle the workload, and Monterrell
Washington and DeVontae McNeal are clones with good
speed and experience. However, the running backs
didn’t crank out enough big plays, Edwards got
banged up, and Browning ended up leading the team in
rushing. If defenses have to start worrying about
the running backs, all of a sudden the offense will
go from explosive to dangerously steady.
What to watch for on defense: The pass rush has to come on a
more consistent basis. The ULM defense came up with
six sacks and a whopping 17 tackles for loss in the
regular season finale against FIU, and it cranked up
nine sacks over a two-week span against Florida
Atlantic and WKU – the Warhawks won all three games.
ULM cranked up 15 sacks over those three games and
just seven over the other ten games, and it showed
as the secondary was lit up like a Christmas tree
time and again. The 3-3-5 alignment doesn’t really
get much from the front three when it comes to
getting to the quarterback, but even if the pressure
will be generated from all sides, the end result has
to be a pass rush. This goes hand-in-hand with …
The team will be far better if … The secondary shows up. ULM
gets all five of its starting defensive backs back,
but they have to be far, far better. The team was
able to get by WKU after allowing 308 yards and four
scores, and it beat North Texas after allowing 323
yards and two touchdowns, but Ohio, Arkansas State,
Louisiana-Lafayette and Baylor all fired away at
well for well over 300 yards on the way to wins. The
run defense was the problem in the loss to Auburn –
allowing a season-high 225 yards – but ULM won the
other six games when the defense didn’t allow 300
The schedule: Can ULM pull off a huge shocker by beating
Oklahoma in Norman? No, but it wouldn’t be stunning
if it came up with a victory over Wake Forest or
Baylor on the road or Tulane at home. Most of the
biggest Sun Belt games are at home, going against
WKU and Arkansas State, but the showdown against the
Red Wolves on November 9th is the last home date
with a week off before going on the road to finish
up at South Alabama and Louisiana. The season could
come down to the rivalry showdown against the Ragin’
Cajuns, but there can’t be any big slips at home and
beating Troy and Texas State in the middle of the
season on the road could be a must.
Best offensive player: Senior QB Kolton Browning. He was good
from the start of his freshman season, but last
season he was more comfortable, more effective and
far more dangerous. The season might have ended with
an ugly thud with three of his ten picks on the year
coming in the loss to Ohio, but he was a dominant
force when healthy the rest of the season
highlighted by his thrilling 412-yard day in the
opener against Arkansas and with back-to-back four
touchdown days in wins over WKU and South Alabama.
If everything goes according to plan, he might be
the Sun Belt Player of the Year.
Best defensive player: Senior S Isaiah Newsome. If healthy
again, senior linebacker Cameron Blakes should be
the star of the defensive show after making 18
tackles in his first three games with a sack before
getting knocked out for the year. Newsome is the
lone returning all-star to the defense after coming
up with 57 tackles with four picks doing a
consistent job as a good hitter. If he can make a
few more plays against the pass, all of a sudden he
could make a veteran secondary far stronger.
Key player to a successful season: Junior DE Darius Lively.
The defense needs a pass rusher, and he could be it.
Built more like a linebacker than a 3-3-5 defensive
end, he’s extremely quick and has to show it as part
of the rotation up front. He didn’t do too much last
season as a backup, but he came up with six
quarterback hurries in his limited time and showed
glimpses of what he could become.
The season will be a success if … the Warhawks win the Sun
Belt title. They’re not going to beat Oklahoma, and
they probably won’t get by Wake Forest, but they get
WKU and Arkansas State at home and should have
things set up perfectly for the huge regular
season-ender against Louisiana-Lafayette. With 20
returning starters and good depth, there’s no excuse
to shoot for anything less than a championship.
Key game: Oct. 3 vs. WKU. The Sun Belt opener will be the
tone-setter. Bobby Petrino’s Hilltopper team is
fantastic and should be one of the favorites to win
the conference title, and ULM has to take advantage
of the Thursday night showdown at home to show that
it’s going to be the league’s power team. A loss
would make the Warhawks chase for the rest of the
season with no room for any error.
2012 Fun Stats:
- Fumbles: Opponents 20 (lost 10) – ULM 13 (lost 4)
- 4th Down Conversions: ULM 24-of-35 (69%) –
Opponents 18-of-28 (64%)
- 1st Quarter Scoring: ULM 94 – Opponents 66
- 2013 ULM Preview |
2013 ULM Offense
2013 ULM Defense |
2013 ULM Depth Chart