2014 ULM Preview: What You Need To Know
ULM QB Brayle Brown
Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About ULM (Getty Images)
2014 ULM Preview
What You Need To Know...
What You Need To Know About The Offense: It wasn’t a dynamic attack and it wasn’t consistent, and now it has to try to rebuild and reload up front and without QB Kolton Browning. With the addition of NC State and Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas, the problem might be solved. There’s decent size up front, and there’s good potential with RB Centarius Donald and WR Rashon Ceaser likely to be among the Sun Belt’s best at their respective positions as long as Donald is fed the ball more. The line needs some retooling and reloading, but there’s size along with veterans with four seniors and a junior up front. It all has to lead to doing more down the field and being more efficient with the passing game, and the ground attack has to control games from time to time. It didn’t last year.
What You Need To Know About The Defense: The 3-3-5 alignment started to work last season. There wasn’t much of a pass rush, and there were problems late in the season, especially against the run, but with nine starters returning there’s hope to do even more. The secondary is great against the run – partly because the front six isn’t always steady – with good hitters who know what they’re doing. Hunter Kissinger and Ray Stovall are solid veteran linebackers who can do a little bit of everything, and they’ll have to be more disruptive if DE Darius Lively and NT Gerrand Johnson aren’t generating a push behind the line.
Players You Need To Know
1. LB Hunter Kissinger, Jr.
It was his job to step in right away and become a key part of the defensive puzzle. He became more than that, finishing second on the team with 73 tackles with a sack and 6.5 tackles for loss. At 6-2 and 230 pounds he has good size to go along with great range and excellent pass coverage skills, coming up with three picks. With the experience to go along with the bulk, he could be a threat to hit the 100 tackle mark.
2. QB Pete Thomas, Sr.
The quarterback gig is his now with Kolton Browning gone. While Brayle Brown is a tremendous athlete who can make big things happen with his feet as well as his arm, the addition of Thomas changes up the offense and means the passing game should shine and be stronger. Great as a freshman at Colorado State, Thomas left for NC State, didn’t work out, and now he’ll play his final season at ULM, bringing his 6-6, 236-pound size and tremendous arm to stretch the field and give the Warhawks a dangerous downfield attack.
3. NT Gerrand Johnson, Jr.
An active run stopper and a great veteran inside, he came up with 51 tackles and a team-leading four sacks two years ago, and followed it up with 56 tackles and a sack with 11 tackles for loss. Really, really quick for his size, the 6-0, 280-pound bowling ball on the nose has a great blend of athleticism and bulk, able to do a little of everything. He’d be an ideal 4-3 tackle, but he’ll sit on the zero in the 3-3-5.
4. LB Ray Stovall, Sr.
A great veteran to build and work around, the 6-2, 230-pound senior followed up a 63 tackle season with 49 tackles. He didn’t come up with as many plays behind the line – generating three sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss in 2012 and two sacks with 11 tackles for loss last year – but he’s a threat in the backfield and finds ways to get behind the line. When needed, he occasionally works like a defensive end to give the Warhawks a 4-3 alignment, and he could be more dangerous this year being turned loose more.
5. WR Rashon Ceaser, Jr.
He wasn’t supposed to be the team’s top receiver last year, but he became the top target catching 65 passes for 964 yards and five touchdowns averaging 14.8 yards per grab. Red hot late, he closed out the year with four straight 100-yard games and five touchdowns. At 6-0 and 190 pounds he has good size and terrific one-step quickness, doing a great job as a punt returner averaging 10.5 yards per try with an 88-yard score in the loss to Tulane.
6. S Cordero Smith, Sr.
A tremendous run stopper, he holds up well in the secondary at 5-11 and 193 pounds. He finished second on the team with 71 tackles in 2012, and last year he was third making 63 stops with a pick and three broken up passes. Smart and tough, he’s always around the ball, but he needs to become more of a playmaker when the ball is in the air and less like an extra linebacker. The quarterback of the secondary, he can do it.
7. P/PK Justin Manton, Sr.
A placekicker who turned into a whale of a punter, he averaged just 39.8 yards per try two years ago, but he put 19 inside the 20 and allowed just 6.7 yards per return. Last year he hit 5-of-9 field goals, but he was phenomenal as a punter averaging 45.8 yards per try putting 24 inside the 20 and walloping 28 shots from more than 50 yards. He had a lot of practice with 80 punts.
8. RB Centerius Donald, Sr.
Part of a rotation last year, the 6-1, 222-pound thumper finished second on the team with 433 yards and four touchdowns averaging five yards per carry. Even so, it was enough to earn Honorable Mention All-Sun Belt honors. A good receiver for his size, he caught 14 passes for 52 yards and did a nice job in the open field. While he might not be a workhorse, he’ll make more of an impact if he can stay in one piece.
9. S Mitch Lane, Jr.
Once again at the H position – more of a nickel back who can do a little of everything – is Lane, a 6-1, 215-pound veteran who came up with 53 tackles and two picks and four broken up passes. He’s built for the position and he’s great at holding up against the run, but he’s at his best when getting to receivers in the open field. With great range and instincts, he knows how to get around the ball.
10. OT Joseph Treadwell, Sr.
It’s a rebuilding year for the line, but the 6-5, 325-pound Treadwell is going to be one to build and work around at right tackle as a key starter over the last three seasons. A nice recruit with smarts and size, he might not move like a tight end, but he can hit like a ton of bricks and is great for the ground attack. He’ll be the anchor.