Now that multiple spring games have come and gone for a lot of the college football teams, it is time for them to put their focus on fall practice. In 2012, the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks will be looking to turn the tide of being a middle of the road team in the Sun Belt Conference to becoming a team in the running for a championship.
The 2011 season for the Warhawks was not one to brag about. They lost some closely contested games, and managed to finish the season with a 4-8 record, including a 3-5 mark in conference play, in head coach Todd Berry's first season. Berry will be looking to build on the positives that his young team displayed last year and potentially take ULM to a bowl game this year.
Offensively, the Warhawks were a pretty balanced team as they finished near the middle of the pack in the NCAA in both passing and rushing. ULM's passing game averaged 237 yards through the air, which ranked 58th in the entire country. While Monroe had a decent passing game in yardage, they still had problems as they were only able to produce 16 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. For the Warhawks to make more of an impact in the 2012 season, they will need to limit their interceptions and try to get above the 20-touchdown mark.
Monroe was unable to produce a 1000-yard rusher last season, but still had a running game that one might fear due to the threat of a scrambling quarterback. They averaged 153 yards a game on the ground, which ranked 68th in the nation, and were able to make it in the end zone a respectable 22 times.
If offensive coordinator Steve Martin is able to get the Warhawk offense back on the same page with their dual-threat running game and produce more production from the passing game - their offense could make giant strides in the 2012 season, and potentially be the most potent attack in the SBC., but they can surprise you at times.
Defensively, ULM will have some improving to do after they allowed an average of 326 yards a game - 226 passing and 100 rushing. Unfortunately, while they possessed one of the more potent offenses in the SBC, they still allowed more points than their team could score - giving up over 25 points a game.
But, while they have many areas to improve on from last year, ULM did do some good things on defense. The Warhawks did a good job of keeping opposing offenses off of the field. When they were not giving up scoring drives, they were steadily forcing three-and-outs. ULM also did a good job of forcing turnovers, ending the season with a +3 turnover margin.
Entering his third season with the Warhawks, defensive coordinator Troy Reffett will try to continue building up a defense that, with many returning starters, could be one of the better units in the league.
Projected Starters/Players to Watch:
Jr. QB Kolton Browning - 6'2" 198lbs
2011 stats: Completed 244-419 passes for 2483 yards with 13 TD's and 8 INT's. Tied for team leading 143 carries with 443 yards and 5 TD's. Threw a 70-yard TD pass to win the Spring Game for his team.
Jr. RB Jyruss Edwards - 5'11" 196lbs
2011 stats: Tied for team leading 143 carries for 667 yards and a team-high 11 TD's. Caught 31 passes for 203 yards and 1 TD.
Sr. WR Brent Leonard - 6'2" 185lbs
2011 stats: 69 catches for 751 yards and 4 TD's. Caught the 70 yards game winning TD from Browning.
Jr. WR Tavarese Maye - 6'0" 173lbs
2011 stats: 50 catches for 617 yards and 3 TD's.
Jr. CB Vincent Eddie - 5'8" 157
2011 stats: 63 total TKL's, 3.5 TKL's for loss and 2 INT's.
Jr. DE Kentarius Caldwell - 6'2" 266lbs
2011 stats: 27 total TKL's, 5.5 TKL's for loss and 3.5 sacks.
Jr. S Isaiah Newsome - 5'11" 198lbs
2011 stats: 62 total TKL's, 1 sack, 3 INT's, 2 FR and 1 FF.
Sept. 8th at Arkansas
Sept. 15th at Auburn
Sept. 22nd Baylor
Sept. 29th at Tulane
Oct. 6th at Middle Tennessee
Oct. 13th Florida Atlantic
Oct. 20th at Western Kentucky
Oct. 27th South Alabama
Nov. 3rd Louisiana Lafayette
Nov.8th at Arkansas St.
Nov. 17th North Texas
Nov. 24th at Florida International
The Louisiana Monroe Warhawks will have a rough start to the season as they take on two SEC schools and a Big 12 team in Baylor - which will be televised on ESPN. If the team can come out healthy after running their early gauntlet, look for the Monroe offense and defense to fight their way towards a chance to represent the Sun Belt in a bowl game. Unfortunately, the tough schedule will be too much as the Warhawks. Their season could be on the brink by the time they visit Murfreesboro to open their conference slate. Look to see an improved and hungry Warhawk squad, but they look to still be a year away from making any real splashes in the Sun Belt.