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October 24, 2012
Warhawk Inside Slant - South Alabama Edition
ULM is alone at the top of the Sun Belt Conference standings following its overtime victory at Western Kentucky, but Head Coach Todd Berry is downplaying the significance of the Warhawks' status as the only unbeaten team in league play.
"It's still so early in the conference race that we're just going to try to be 1-and-0 at the end of his week," said Berry, whose team is back home to take on South Alabama. "I know that's a coaching adage, but it's still way too early to say we're on top of the conference. There haven't been enough games played to say that you're on top of the conference. We're just going to go out and try to play a little bit better than we played this past week, which I didn't think we played real well from a defensive perspective."
ULM is 5-2 overall, 3-0 in the conference and is going against a South Alabama team that has only two wins over in seven games but is coming off its first conference win and first ever FBS win, a double overtime affair over Florida Atlantic.
With a game against instate rival Louisiana-Lafayette coming up after this one, the Warhawks don't want to get caught looking ahead, and Berry doesn't think that will be the case.
"I don't think so," he said. "I really mean that. This group has done a really, really nice job of just trying to stay focused on the next game. It's something we've been preaching in our three years here, and I think it's part of our culture."
• Though second percentage-wise, the Warhawks lead the conference by far in fourth-down conversions with 16 in 21 attempts. That works out to a 76.2 percent success rate, which is 13th best in the country. Middle Tennessee is 9-of-10 and its 90 percent rate is recognized as No. 1 in the conference in the category. Nationally, only Army (11-of-25) and Penn State (14-of-23) have gone for it on fourth down more than the Warhawks.
• ULM leads the Sun Belt Conference in both scoring (39.4 points a game) and total offense (471.3 yards).
• The Warhawks are plus-one per game in turnover margin with seven more takeaways than giveaways in seven games.
Series History: This is the first meeting between ULM and South Alabama.
Scouting The Offense: With QB Kolton Browning leading the way, ULM is producing 291 yards a game passing (No. 2 in the Sun Belt) and 180 rushing (No. 5). The Warhawks like to keep the pace up. Only two teams in the conference have run more plays than their 556, and one of them, Florida International with 583, has played one more game. The other team that has run more plays is Troy with 562.
Scouting The Defense: Despite injuries that have sidelined LB Cameron Blakes and DE/NT Kendarius Caldwell for the season, ULM's defense is holding opponents to just 365 yards a game in total offense. That's the third-best defense statistically in the country. The Warhawks lead the Sun Belt in interceptions with 10 and are tied for second in sacks with 15.
Quote To Note: "When you have a mature quarterback-and I'm talking about all the way across the board. When you have that guy everybody knows can bring you back … you've always got a chance. And I think we have one."-Coach Todd Berry, on the value of having junior QB Kolton Browning in winning close games.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
This Week's Game: South Alabama at Louisiana-Monroe, Oct. 27-South Alabama should come into the game on an emotional high after posting its first win over an FBS and Sun Belt opponent in its last game (Florida Atlantic). The Jaguars are 2-5 on the season with their other win over FCS member Nicholls State.
Keys To The Game: Don't look ahead. The Warhawks are coming off a big win at Western Kentucky and have a home game against in-state rival Louisiana-Lafayette coming up. They don't want to fall into this "trap" game.
Players To Watch:
QB Kolton Browning-He will be hard to ignore, course, but it's good to watch for his running ability as well as his passing. Browning is the total offense leader in the Sun Belt, passing for 273 yards game (also No. 1 in the league) and rushing for 52.
WR Brent Leonard-Leonard is No. 3 in the league in receptions per game with his average of 6.0 per game. Three of his 42 catches have gone for touchdowns.
LB R.J. Young-Young has the ability to show up anywhere in the defense. He leads the Warhawks in tackles-for-loss (6.0) and has an interception with a 55-yard return as well.