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2013 Pre-Season Preview: ULM Warhawks

2012 Record: 8-5 (6-2 in Sun Belt)

2012 Preview

Head Coach: Todd Berry (17-20 at ULM, 46-79 All-Time)

Last Bowl Game: 2012 Independence Bowl: Lost to Ohio 45-14

Stadium: Malone Stadium in Monroe, LA (capacity = 30,427)

Home Field Advantage: ranked 24th out of 55 mid-major teams

Schedule Glimpse:

2013 Schedule Link

Revenge: 9/21 at Baylor, 11/9 vs Arkansas State, 11/30 at Louisiana

Swing Games: 9/14 at Wake Forest, 10/3 vs WKU, 10/31 at Troy

 

Statistical Snapshot:

2012 Statistics Link

Stat to Fear: allowed opponents to convert on 42.78% of third downs (8th in Sun Belt), 

Stats to Cheer: scored TDs on 76% of trips to red zone (1st in Sun Belt), 33 passing TDs (1st in Sun Belt)

Advanced Stats (Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking): 69th out of 124 teams

Advanced Stats (Football Study Hall): ran 2.5 offensive plays per minute (36th in Nation)

 

Personnel:

Phil Steele's Returning Starters: Offense: 8, Defense 9, Special Teams 2

Key Defensive Returnees: S Codero Smith (71 tackles), CB Rob'Donovan Lewis (69 tackles), CB Vincent Eddie (68 tackles), LB Ray Stovall (63 tackles, 3 sacks), S Isaiah Newsome (4 INT), NT Gerrand Johnson (4 sacks)

Key Offensive Returnees: QB Kolton Browning (3049 yds passing, 29 passing TD, 7 rush TD), RB Jyruss Edwards (438 yds rush), RB Monterrell Washington (354 yds rush), WR Je'Ron Hamm (62 rec, 6 TD), WR Tavarese Maye (56 rec)

Top Recruits: DE Everett Anderson, OL Chase Regian, OL Matthew Oubre, DB Grant Dotsy, DB Jarred Dunn, DE David Elias, QB Bivins Caraway, DB Marquis McCullum

 

Inside Scoop with Dusty Thibodeaux from WarhawkReport.com:

CFBZ: Todd Berry enters his fourth season as head coach at ULM. What are his strengths as a coach and what can he do better?

WarhawkReport.com: His biggest strength is that he can sell his vision of the Warhawk program to prospects that buy into it and make a big impact on the field.  As for improvement, I think he's level headed and sometimes can come across to those not around the ULM program as not caring about the program's direction.  This is far from his intentions, but could easily be interpreted that way by those that look only at the program's surface.

 

CFBZ: A big area of opportunity for ULM last season was the pass defense as they gave up 276 ypg and a league worst 29 TDs. Who needs to step up in this area for the Warhawks?

WarhawkReport.com: The change of defensive coordinator Troy Reffett to coach the secondary should help improve this area, however the play of Mitch Lane, who was sidelined for a few games with injury in 2012, will have to lead the secondary. Additionally freshmen Justin Backus and Lenzy Pipkins will need to make a name for themselves early, while newcomers Grant Dotsy and Marquis McCullum could be thrown into the mix in the secondary.
 
 
CFBZ: Most college football fans have heard of ULM QB Kolton Browning. Who are some of the other offensive players to keep an eye on this season? 
 
WarhawkReport.com: Receivers Tony Cook and Je'ron Hamm are two of the bigger targets for Browning. Running back Jyruss Edwards has been injured a lot in his ULM career. Still, he remains just 105 yards from breaking into the school's top 10 career rushing list. With a career high of 667 yards – another season like that could place him as high as sixth.
 
 
CFBZ: What will make the 2013 season a success in your eyes?
 
WarhawkReport.com: With the number of starters returning and a 2013 schedule that includes 4 Saturdays off, nothing short of bringing hardware home to Malone Stadium will make the season a success.
 
 
Verdict:
 
ULM shocked the college football world on Sept 8th as they beat the #8 ranked Arkansas Razorbacks. It was a great way to start the season and despite losing it's next two games (close losses at Auburn and to Baylor), the Warhawks finished the regular season at 8-4 after going just 4-8 in 2011. 
 
Flipping their record from the previous season was a great accomplishment for the Warhawks and Toddy Berry. It was a big step for the program as it was their first winning season since becoming a part of 1-A/FBS. The Warhawks finished the season in a three way tie for second in the conference with Middle Tennessee and Louisiana. In 2013, Middle Tennessee has moved on but ULM will be looking to revenge their only conference losses from last year when they face Arkansas State on Nov 9th and Louisiana on Nov 30th.
 
This season looks bright as they return 17 starters including QB Kolton Browning. ULM increased their scoring from 24.6 ppg in 2011 to 33.8 in 2012. A big reason was their passing attack as they gained 50 more yards per game and they had 30 more plays of 10 or more yards than the previous season. On defense, ULM was statistically a little bit worse than in 2011 as they gave up 90 more yards in total offense per game and allowed four more points per game. The defense might not have regressed as much as it looks like on paper because the Warhawks threw the ball around a lot more on offense and ran 2.5 plays per minute on offense.
 
My outlook on ULM for this season is very similar to how the Warhawks finished last year. I think they are looking at another 8-4 unless they can get over the Arkansas State/Louisiana hump. ULM has lost to Arkansas State the last three years and they've lost to Louisiana the last five. The Sun Belt championship goes through those two teams. ULM is capable of winning the Sun Belt Championship and with a senior QB in Kolton Browning this is their best chance to do so. 
 
 
 
Previous 2013 Pre-Season Previews:
 
C-USA- FAU
Independent: Georgia StateOld Dominion
Kevin Causey

About Kevin Causey

dry humorist, beer snob, occasionally unbiased SEC fan, UGA alumni, contributor for The Student Section and founder of College Football Zealots

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