***** NCAA Football Preview - U-L-M Warhawks *****
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Football Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
2011 SEASON IN REVIEW: After going 5-7 in his first season as the head coach of
the ULM Warhawks in 2010, Todd Berry's team endured a small step backward in
The Warhawks' season got off to a 1-3 start, but that was almost expected
considering their schedule as they lost three tough road games in September
to Florida State (34-0), TCU (38-17) and Iowa (45-17). Their lone win during
that stretch came against Grambling State (35-7).
ULM thought that things would get easier once it entered conference play, but
that was not the case as it finished just 3-5 in the Sun Belt, with its three
wins coming to the three teams that finished below it in the standings (Troy,
Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic).
The Warhawks finished the season with a 4-8 record, and they still have not
been bowl-eligible in their six years since joining the FBS.
OFFENSE: The Warhawks were one of the more effective offensive teams in the Sun
Belt a season ago, ranking third in the conference in yards per game (390.6)
and fifth in scoring (24.6).
The unit is fortunate enough to welcome back most of its offensive nucleus from
a year ago, led by quarterback Kolton Browning. Though he was effective in
completing 58.2 percent of his passes for 2,483 yards, 13 touchdowns and 8
interceptions, it marked a noticeable downtick in production from his freshman
season (.619 percent completions, 18 TDs). Though Browning is also a threat
running the ball (443 yards, 5 TDs), his production from the pocket will need
to increase if the Warhawks hope to improve.
The return of one of the Sun Belt's most dynamic receiving duos can only help
Browning's progress. Brent Leonard is one of the SBC's best, hauling in 69
passes for 751 yards and 4 touchdowns a year ago, while Tavarese Maye
complemented Leonard nicely with 50 catches, 617 yards and 3 scores. Colby
Harper (291 yards) and Je'Ron Hamm (257 yards) are also back in the mix.
Jyruss Edwards was the team's leading rusher last season with 667 yards and he
was especially effective in the red zone with 11 touchdowns. With Edwards back,
paired with the production from Browning and Centarius Donald (414 yards, 3
TDs), the running game should once again be in good shape, although the loss of
three offensive linemen could be cause for concern.
DEFENSE: Despite their sub par record, ULM had a solid defense, allowing just
326.2 yards per game, second only to Arkansas State in the Sun Belt and ranking
22nd in the nation. Even though the unit didn't surrender many yards, it was
susceptible to allowing points (25.4 ppg). It was also wildly inconsistent in
yielding 14 points or fewer four times while giving up 31 points or more on six
The defensive line was a strength a year ago, but with Ken Dorsey (13 tackles
for loss, 4.5 sacks) and Troy Evans (12 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks) gone,
tackle Kentarius Caldwell (6 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks) is the most
experienced in the current rotation.
Even with the loss of 100-tackle man Jason Edwards, linebacker appears to be
the strength of the unit with Cameron Blakes (50 tackles, 7 tackles for loss)
and R.J. Young (45 tackles, 2 forced fumbles) returning after productive
season. Coach Berry is especially excited about Blakes prospects this season.
"(Blakes) is a four-year starting linebacker and NFL scouts are taking note of
him," Berry said. "He is a key guy for us."
The secondary returns veteran performers who are key to the turnover battle in
cornerback Vincent Eddie (63 tackles, 2 interceptions) and safety Isaiah
Newsome (62 tackles, 3 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries).
SPECIAL TEAMS: Placekicker Justin Manton struggled last season, hitting just 6-
of-14 field goal attempts, although he's shown a strong leg. Freshman Caleb
Gammel takes over as the team's punter.
Return specialist Luther Ambrose has moved on, and while Edwards saw some time
returning kicks last season, expect a few different guys to get an opportunity
OUTLOOK: With good numbers on both the offensive and defensive sides of the
football, ULM's struggles in 2011 were hard to explain at times, with much of
its fate coming down to streaky play. Berry feels that the continuity on the
squad will lead to improvement this season.
"I really like the chemistry of the team we have this season," Berry said. "The
best thing about this team is the culture we have. The players have grown up
together and when you have a culture like the one we have, it allows you work
through adversity similar to what we encountered last season. The team could
have chosen to take a step back or a step forward and I feel that this team has
taken a step forward."
With all of its top skill players returning, the offense should be improved
this year, and even though the defense lost plenty of key performers, the
system in place has proven to be effective, so the production on that side of
the ball should be there as well. The key for the Warhawks is being able to
step up in big moments against Sun Belt foes, and if they are able to do that
better than last year, they could start creeping towards bowl eligibility.
08/21 11:53:03 ET