In year two under Todd Berry, ULM expects to contend for a league title.
By: Braden Gall | 6/3/11, 1:00 AM EDT
Order Your CFB
You can read the entire UL Monroe preview in Athlon Sports' 2011 National College Football magazine, available for purchase now at the Athlon Sports store.
#102 UL Monroe
Sun Belt PREDICTION
HEAD COACH: Todd Berry, 5-7 (1 year) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Steve Farmer | DEF. COORDINATOR: Troy Reffett
Eight starters, a budding young quarterback, four starters on the offensive line and the top four receivers return for ULM, but the Warhawks’ offense was largely inconsistent last season. A second year in the system and more maturity will allow ULM to utilize the entire playbook.
Quarterback Kolton Browning had nearly 3,000 yards of total offense as a freshman, but the line needs to protect him better and establish the ground game. The tailback trio of speedster Jyruss Edwards, Centarius Donald and bruising Arkansas transfer Mitchell Bailey should help the running game and balance the offense.
Wideout Luther Ambrose, one of the nation’s fastest 100-meter sprinters, is coming off an all-conference season. He is joined by starters Tavarese Maye, Brent Leonard and Anthony McCall atop a deep receiver rotation. Ambrose caught 65 passes for 752 yards and six touchdowns last season.
“We’ve got everybody back, and I love the chemistry between our quarterback and receivers,” coach Todd Berry says “Another year of learning coverages should be huge for our passing game.”
ULM’s 3-3-5 scheme offers opponents a tough matchup, and the return of six starters should aid its execution. The team’s top three tacklers are back, led by linebackers Jason Edwards and Cameron Blakes.
Ken Dorsey and Troy Evans make up one of the Sun Belt’s best defensive end duos. Dorsey was an all-conference selection last season, and Evans returns from a 2010 injury that sidelined him after a breakout season two years ago.
All-Sun Belt safety Darius Prelow will make a strategic move to the Hawk position (commonly called Rover), where his experience and physical style of play should add bite to the defense. ULM ranked second in the league in total defense and first in rush defense in 2010, but it could be even better this season.
Senior kicker Radi Jabour finally cleaned up his consistency, making 8-of-10 field goals last season. But kicking confidence could still improve, as ULM attempted nearly three fourth down conversions per game in 2010. Punter Aaron Munoz is back after a solid freshman year. ULM’s return game needs a boost.
ULM exceeded expectations in Berry’s first season. The goal now is to contend for a league title.
Youth was ULM’s biggest foe last season, but it could be a benefit this year. “A player’s biggest jump comes from his first year to his second, so we’re expecting a large growth rate for these young players this season,” Berry says.
Highs and lows were too far apart for ULM last season. The Warhawks nearly swept the Sun Belt co-champions, beating Troy (28–14) and falling in double-overtime to FIU (42–35), but they lost the season finale to rival UL Lafayette (23–22) with bowl eligibility on the line.
“It left some bad tastes in our mouth,” Berry says. “This is a league of parity, so the teams that rise up are the ones that adjust well week to week. Hopefully, we learned that last year.”