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November 10, 2010

Warhawk Inside Slant

Inside Slant - Warhawks
Playing football for dollars, i.e., taking on big-time opponents in their lairs, is almost a must for Sun Belt Conference teams.

But ULM might be taking things a bit far.

When the Warhawks visit LSU, they will be taking on a team from the SEC for the third time this season, and the Tigers are not just any SEC opponent.  The Warhawks have already played and lost to Arkansas, 31-7, and Auburn, 52-3, facing some of the powerhouse from the nation's premier college football conference.

"When I first took the job, I wondered if we were going to at least petition to be members of the SEC West," said coach Todd Berry, who was hired last December.

Kidding aside, Berry sees games such as this important not only because of the payday it brings to his program but also because of the impact on recruiting.  Having an LSU an Auburn or an Arkansas on the schedule might sway a player who was either missed or was recruited by an SEC program but didn't make the final cut into choosing ULM.  That kind of player historically has played with a little extra incentive when given an opportunity to play a school he perceives "snubbed" him.

Being in the same state as the Warhawks, LSU carries extra meaning, too.

"With so many Louisiana kids on our football team and with LSU, it builds in a little bit of a rivalry for our kids in terms of what goes on," Berry said. "I've gotten more calls outside of this venue about who's the best between LSU, Arkansas and Auburn because I may be the only one that can answer that question."

The game will be the last non-conference game and last road contest for the Warhawks, who need two victories to become bowl eligible with six. The Warhawks (4-5) finish with home games against North Texas and UL-Lafayette.



 ULM is 0-2 against members of the SEC this season, but the Warhawks have not always come away empty handed from their games against SEC teams. The Warhawks are 3-35-1 all-time against the conference and are the last team to beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa, 21-14, on Nov. 17, 2007.

 ULM's struggles in the running game do not augur well for the Warhawks against LSU. The Warhawks are averaging only 100.7 yards per game rushing, and the Tigers are holding their opponents to 125.2. The Warhawks rank 108th in rushing among FBS teams and the Tigers are 32nd against the run.

 Red zone offense has been a problem for the Warhawks. They have scored on only 18-of-25 opportunities after reach opponents' 20-yard line, or 72 percent. Only 13 of the scores have been touchdowns. Among Sun Belt teams, only Florida Atlantic, which has only eight, has fewer red zone touchdowns, and the Owls have had only 19 opportunities.

Series History:   LSU leads 1-0 (last meeting, 2003, 49-7, LSU).

Scouting The Offense:   An inconsistent running game keeps ULM from being an effective offense. A week after rushing for 191 yards in a victory over Troy, the Warhawks managed only 116 in a loss to Florida International. For the season, they are running for only 100.7 yards per game, seventh in the Sun Belt. Behind QB Kolton Browning, however, they are throwing for 249.1 yards per game, third in the league. Browning is averaging 265.1 yards of total offense and leads the Warhawks with 306 yards rushing.

Scouting The Defense:   ULM is giving up more than 398 yards per game in total offense, and only two teams in the league are getting hit for more points than the 30.9 the Warhawks are giving up. The Warhawks do have 10 interceptions, tied for second-most in the league with Arkansas State, behind UL-Lafayette's 13. ULM is tied for third in the league with 20 sacks.


Quote To Note: "It's all about our standard of performance and preparation. LSU's got a fine, fine football team, and we're certainly going to respect every team that we play. But I don't think our players are necessarily fearful because we've already played Arkansas and Auburn, and certainly those teams were fine football teams also."

- Coach Todd Berry.


This Week's Game: at LSU, Nov. 13-The Warhawks take on one of the hottest teams in the SEC when they go to Baton Rouge. LSU is 8-1 after defeating Alabama in its last game to climb to No. 5 in the AP rankings. This is the last non-conference game of the season for the Warhawks, who earlier lost to Arkansas and Auburn, but beat Southeastern Louisiana.

Keys To The Game:   Keep the faith. The Warhawks are terribly out-manned and need monumental breaks to keep the game respectable. One thing in their favor is that LSU's offense doesn't exactly light up the scoreboard.


Players To Watch:  

WR Luther Ambrose-Ambrose leads the Warhawks with 52 catches, tied for second in the Sun Belt, for 562 yards, which is sixth. He has four touchdown receptions.

QB Kolton Browning-A bull-like rusher and left-handed thrower, Browning leads the Warhawks in rushing with 306 yards and is tied for the team lead with three rushing touchdowns. He is throwing for better than 231 yards per game, with 12 touchdown passes against eight interceptions.

DE Ken Dorsey-Dorsey is a force up front with 41 tackles to lead the Warhawk linemen. He has 11.0 tackles for-losses, with three sacks. His 56-yard interception return in the final minute gave the Warhawks an opportunity to win at Florida International, but the Warhawks squandered the opportunity with an interception.


Roster Report:  

 Senior RB Frank Goodin is fourth among the schools all-time leading rushers with 2,761 yards. He began the season with hopes of catching all-time rushing leader Calvin Dawson, who had 3,378 yards, but those hopes seem pretty much dashed with three regular-season games remaining. No. 3 Joe Profit (2,818) is well within reach, but No. 2 Roosevelt Potts (3,061) will be difficult to catch.

 WR Tavarese Maye, a redshirt freshman, is becoming a big-play man. He has four touchdowns, three receiving, that have averaged 41 yards. His 82-yard reception is the sixth-longest in school history.

 K Radi Jabour is only 23-of-40 on field goals in his career, but is 7-of-10 from 40 yards or longer. He is only 15-of-28 from 20-39 yards.

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