Preview 2009 - Offense
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What you need to know:
A mega-disappointment last year, the ULM offense will try to do a little more
option and get the speedy running backs on the move a bit more. Step one is
replacing QB Kinsmon Lancaster, but that won’t be too hard with Trey Revell
ready to step in and lightning-fast Zach Rhodes a good option. Backs Frank
Goodin and Rodney Lovett struggled last year, but they were both hurt and they
didn’t get much room to move. The line struggled throughout the season,
especially in pass protection, and it’s not likely to be much better. The
receiving corps should be a strength with speed, depth, and good options all
across the board. Now there needs to be a steady passer to get them the ball.
Passing: Trey Revell
14-28, 129 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Frank Goodin
182 carries, 783 yds, 5 TD
Receiving: Darrell McNeal
51 catches, 558 yds, 4 TD
Star of the offense: Junior RB Frank Goodin
Player who has to step up and become a star:
Senior OT Ryan Dercher
Unsung star on the rise: Junior RB Rodney Lovett
Best pro prospect: Sophomore WR Anthony McCall
Top three all-star candidates:
1) Goodin, 2) QB Trey Revell, 3) WR
Strength of the offense: Speed at the skill positions, receiver
Weakness of the offense:
Pass protection, quarterback experience
Projected Starter: Taking over for long-time starter Kinsmon
Lancaster will be Trey Revell, a
solid reserve over the last few years who completed 14-of-28 passes for 129
yards and a touchdown last season with two interceptions. A big passer at 6-5
and 218 pounds, the junior can also run with excellent open field speed running
for 156 yards in his limited action. Despite his backup status, he showed he
could lead the team to a win highlighted by a comeback performance against North
Texas, and now he has to show he can handle being the main man who can carry the
Projected Top Reserves: Junior
Zach Rhodes came to ULM from SMU and
should bring a dangerous rushing element to the attack. Even if he doesn’t play
quarterback, the 6-2, 210-pounder might be too fast to not have on the field in
some way. He saw time under center for SMU completing 8-of-15 passes for 81
yards with a score and an interception, but he wasn’t the right fit. While he’ll
have a battle on his hands, he should be the No. 2 option.
Almost certain to be the third stringer is
Cody Wells, a 6-0, 187-pound
redshirt freshman who’s smart, can run, and is a winner having led his high
school team to the Alabama state championship game (before losing). While he
knows the offense and could be a reliable practice player, he’ll have to stand
out to hold off the incoming freshmen for time.
Watch Out For ... more downfield passing. The offense isn’t set up
to bomb away, but with a thrower like Revell under center, assuming he’s the
starter, there should be more big plays down the field than there were last
Strength: Mobility. Revell can fly, Rhodes is even faster, and
Wells can move a little bit. While none of them are likely to be the consistent
running option that Kinsmon Lancaster was, they can hit the home run from
anywhere on the field.
Weakness: Accuracy. Revell might have a live arm, but he only completed
half of his passes in his limited time. Wells and Rhodes aren’t likely to hover
near 60% if they get any work in.
Outlook: Losing a leader and a star like Kinsmon Lancaster is
never a plus, but ULM has several good options to work with. Trey Revell has put
in his time and should move into the starting role, while adding more of a
passing element to the mix, but Zach Rhodes could be too fast and offer too much
upside to not see action. On the way are true freshmen
Kolton Browning and
Aaron Munoz. They’re likely to be
redshirted, but Browning will someday be the starter.
Junior Frank Goodin was supposed to
step in and be another Calvin Dawson, but he tweaked his knee early on and
wasn’t quite right for the first half of the season. The 5-9, 200-pound
speedster led the team in rushing with 783 yards and five scores, and he was
fourth on the team with 25 catches for 277 yards and two touchdowns, but he has
the potential to do more. He’s extremely powerful for his size, but he’s at his
best when he gets a little bit of space. Without many holes to run through, he
was bottled up way too often. If there’s any help from the line that was so
woeful last season, Goodin could be an All-Sun Belt performer.
Projected Top Reserves: 5-10, 203-pound junior
Rodney Lovett came in from the JUCO
ranks and was a decent No. 2 back rushing for 188 yards, third on the team, with
a touchdown. Kept in check because of an ankle injury, he was never able to show
fully what he can do, but when he’s right he could be a big-time workhorse after
running it 326 times in 2008 for Fort Scott CC. It wouldn’t be a stunner if he
became the No. 1 back.
Redshirt freshman Carl Elie was all
set to go to Wisconsin before the Badgers backed out. Now the 5-10, 198-pound
speedster should be an interesting backup who could find a niche if he can show
good hands in the passing game. With his 4.45 speed, he needs to get the ball in
his hands on the move.
Senior Gary Frazier is a pure backup
who’ll get a few carries here and there. He saw time in ten games but he only
ran nine times for 12 yards with a touchdown coming against Arkansas. At 5-8 and
215 pounds he has size, but he’s not likely to see much playing time unless
disaster strikes. p the spot. The 5-8, 209-pound is a compact runner with some
pop. Mostly a blocking fullback so far, he'll get a few carries as a change of
pace to the speedy Goodin.
Watch Out For ... several 100-yard games from Goodin. He only had
one last year and that came against Alabama A&M. With a little improvement from
the line, any improvement, Goodin should be a 1,000-yard back.
Strength: Quickness. Goodin and Lovett are tough, quick backs who
can dive into a hole and cut out on a dime. And then there’s Elie who has the
best wheels in the backfield. Give him a crease and he could be gone
Weakness: The offensive line.
While it should be better with more experience returning, the line didn’t do
anything for the backs last season. If it’s not better, the running game isn’t
going to improve.
Outlook: The main backs, Frank Goodin and Rodney Lovett, were
never quite 100% healthy all season long, and it showed. That, combined with bad
line play, led to a disappointing season. Now everyone’s back and ready to go
meaning there should be far more from the two solid backs. The quarterbacks will
help the rushing stats, but Goodin and Lovett alone should combine for close to
Projected Starters: Senior Darrell McNeal had been a bit of
a hybrid player as a part fullback, part tight end, part receiver, and then he
became a full-time receiver and has since led the team in each of the last two
seasons with a total of 108 catches for 1,060 yards and eight touchdowns. While
he was steady throughout the year, he only exploded in two games catching eight
passes for 131 yards and two of his four scores on the year in the win over
Alabama A&M, and he caught ten passes for 84 yards against Middle Tennessee. Now
he has to get back in everyone’s good graces after being suspended for spring
5-9. 173-pound sophomore Anthony McCall
finished third on the team with 28 catches for 406 yards and a team-leading
six touchdowns. A good deep threat who averaged 14.5 yards per catch, he earned
honorable mention All-Sun Belt honors and was a star on special teams.
Consistent and dangerous, he could turn into the team’s No. 1 target before
Starting again at one spot will be J.J.
McCoy, a former cornerback who missed all of 2007 with an Achilles heel
injury and ended up catching 23 passes for 207 yards and two scores. Extremely
quick, he’s a good slot receiver, but at 5-11 and 180 pounds he can’t take too
many big shots.
Trying to replace Zeek Zacharie at tight end is
Alvin Jordan, a 6-2, 239-pound
junior who spent most of his time on special teams last season and didn’t catch
a pass. The former linebacker was a running back in high school and has good
athleticism, but it’s asking a lot to duplicate Zacharie’s 46-catch, 510-yard,
four score season.
Projected Top Reserves: Depending on Darrell McNeal’s situation,
sophomore Tim Taylor could turn into
a key player. He only caught one pass for four yards in his limited time, but
the 5-9, 173-pound speedster was the Louisiana state high school high jump
champion and should be a devastating all-around playmaker now that he’s healthy.
He missed most of the first half of last year hurt.
Luther Ambrose was the team’s top
recruit last year and was originally expected to be a running back. The 5-10,
166-pound sophomore saw time in 11 games, mostly as a big-time kick returner,
and he ran three times for five yards and caught 12 passes for 160 yards and a
score. He can move. Really move. He was the Louisiana high school sprint
champion tearing off a
10.59 in the 100 to beat current USC star back Joe McKnight, and he's been
clocked at 4.29 in the 40. Despite missing close to half his senior season in
high school, he ran
1,360 yards and 20 touchdowns averaging over ten yards per carry.
JUCO transfer Cordario Calvin is a
6-4, 202-pound junior from Mississippi who was one of the nation’s best junior
college receivers last season for Mississippi Delta CC. With his size and his
experience, he has the makeup and skill to become an instant factor once he’s
able to work his way up the depth chart.
Watch Out For ... Alvin Jordan at tight end. He might not be Zeek
Zacharie right away, but he’s good athlete with big-time upside now that he’s
the main man. He should be able to finish among the team’s top three receivers.
Strength: Options. Even with all of Darrell McNeal’s issues, the
receiving corps is still loaded with talents. McCall, McCoy, Taylor and Ambrose
can all move and they should be able to do more with a better passing
quarterback under center.
Weakness: Tight end experience. Jordan is going to be a good one, but he
has yet to catch a pass while redshirt freshman
Keavon Milton is a new player in the
mix. Considering the success of Zacharie over the last few years, the spotlight
will be on the position.
Outlook: The passing game wasn’t all that bad last year even
though it averaged a mere 185 yards per game. It was efficient, and the
receivers took advantage of their chances. There are plenty of good prospects
with enough talents to form a good rotation. Anthony McCall and J.J. McCoy
should have bigger seasons, while Luther Ambrose is a lightning-fast speedster
who should become a major factor now that he knows what he’s doing.
Projected Starters: The biggest change up front will be at right
tackle where all-star Larry Shappley is gone and
Mitch Doyle is in. the 6-4,
267-pound senior is a former tight end who caught six passes for 33 yards and a
touchdown last season, but he was mostly a big blocker. He might not be all that
big, but he’s extremely athletic and should be solid in pass protection.
Sophomore Justin Roberts became a
starter early on and showed off strong run blocking skills right away. The 6-5,
284-pounder wasn’t consistent, but he was great at plowing over defenders.
Athletic, he’s good on the move and should grow into an anchor over the next
Back in the middle is Brett Thompson,
a versatile senior who started early on at left guard before moving over to
center. He was one of the stars of the line and turned into a good quarterback
up front, making few mistakes and getting better as the year went on. While the
6-3 and 267-pounder isn’t going to blast anyone, he’ll be a good leader.
6-6, 331-pound junior Doug Stroud is
a massive veteran who started every game at right guard after missing all of
2007 hurt. Relatively athletic for his size, he can move a little bit, but he’s
at his best in a phone booth when he gets to line up and knock someone over.
Senior Ryan Dercher came in from the
JUCO ranks and was an immediate factor at left tackle. The 6-6, 289-pounder
started every game and was one of the team’s best run blockers, but he struggled
a big in pass protection. He’s the one the team will run behind in key
situations and he’ll be good at springing big runs.
Projected Top Reserves: Junior
Andrew Stout was a key backup
throughout last year working mostly on special teams. The 6-3, 286-pound guard
will start out on the left side behind Doug Stroud, but he could move around
where needed. Incredibly strong, he’s a guard and a good inside presence.
Bringing more size at right tackle is
Josh Andrews, a 6-6, 304-pound junior who saw most of his action on special
teams. 40 pounds bigger than Mitch Doyle, he needs to play a bigger role,
literally, up front and be more of a factor. While he won’t do much in pass
protection, he’ll be a good run blocker.
Watch Out For ... more pressure to produce. It’s not all that fair
to blame the offensive issues on the line, but it had a bad year. With several
decent veterans and the young blockers thrown to the wolves last year with a
little seasoning, it’s time the line comes through.
Strength: Run blocking. Having a group of speedy players in the
backfield helps, and while the line wasn’t great at plowing over the decent
defensive fronts, it did a good enough job at times to get the offense moving …
again, at times.
Weakness: Pass protection. To be fair, a lot of sacks were allowed
because Kinsmon Lancaster was moving around trying to make things happen. But
mostly the line couldn’t pass protect. After finishing 104th in the
country, and last in the Sun Belt, in sacks allowed, the line needs to be far
Outlook: ULM had one of the Sun Belt’s best lines in 2007, and
then if fell off the map last season. The run blocking wasn’t consistent, the
pass protection was non-existent throughout, and the offense sputtered as a
result. There aren’t any stars to get excited about, but center Brett Thompson
and guard Justin Roberts will be fine. The tackles will have the pressure on to
produce, and developing some decent depth will be a big issue all season long.