The Game

Event: Iowa vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Location: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
When: September 24, 2011 - TBD

The Basics

Location: Monroe, LA
Head Coach: Todd Berry
Mascot: Warhawks
Conference: Sun Belt
2010 Record: 5-7 (4-4)

The Offense

Returning Starters: 9
Key Players: QB Kolton Browning, WR Luther Ambrose
Key Losses: RB Frank Goodin, TE Alvin Jordan

ULM runs a spread offense (with some pistol mixed in) that last year revolved around its quarterback, Kolton Browning. In 2010 Browning accounted for nearly 3,000 yards, around 70% of the Warhawks' total offense. As a passer, Browning was mediocre in his freshman season last year. He was 234/378 for 2,552 with 18 TDs and 12 INTs. Against the two best defenses he faced last year, Arkansas and LSU, Browning went 15/34 for 135 yards with 1 TD and 3 INTs. This year though, the offense will also utilize quarterback Cody Wells, in a dual-QB system. Wells played a very limited role last year with just 18 passing attempts, but looked good in the spring game. Wells went 12/21 for 199 yards, while Browning was just 8/18 for 124 yards.

The Warhawks will have their top 4 receivers from 2010 returning. Luther Ambrose leads the pack. He was 2nd Team All-Sun Belt and had 65 receptions for 752 yards and 6 TDs last year. Tavarese Maye, Anthony McMall, and Brent Leonard all had similar stats; 30+ catches, 400-some yards, and a couple of TDs. McCall was the main target in the spring game with 6 catches for 166 yards. ULM will spread the ball around to RBs and TEs too. There were 15 different players that caught a pass for the Warhawks last year.

At running back, the starter from last year is gone, but Jyruss Edwards brings back some experience. He had 84 carries, 375 yards and 4 TDs as a freshman. Centarius Donald is likely in the mix as well as some incoming freshmen. The quarterbacks will also figure into the running game. Browning led the team in carries last year with 171 and had 385 yards and 4 TDs.

The Defense

Returning Starters: 8
Key Players: DE Ken Dorsey, S Darius Prelow, MLB Jason Edwards
Key Losses: LB Theo Smith, CB Robert Nelson (dismissed)

The Warhawks run a 3-3-5, a defense that Iowa will be familiar with by the 4th week of the year as both Tennessee Tech and Pitt run some variation of the 3-3-5 (though Pitt calls it's a 3-4 I think even with the 2 hybrid players). The Warhawks version is fairly aggressive and tried to stop the run. The "Hawk", which is a free safety/linebacker hybrid, usually lines up in the box and linebackers are often on the line. The aggressiveness of the defense makes it susceptible to play-action (we've seen this before when Michigan was trying to run an aggressive 3-3-5), which must make KOK salivate.

Both starting defensive ends return. Ken Dorsey was second team all-conference and had 52 tackles, 12 TFLs, and 5 sacks last year. He also intercepted a pass and recorded a safety. The other end, Troy Evans, played in only 4 games last year missing the rest due to injury. At nose tackle, ULM tried some different players last year, but none were overly impressive. This year it could be Emanuel Jefferies who had just 8 tackles last year, or Kentarius Caldwell who had even less (6).

At linebacker ULM has returners at both OLB spots. Cameron Blakes is the top returner. He was second on the team in tackles with 74, a pick, and led the team in sacks with 6. The other returning linebacker is Jason Edwards, who had one more tackle than Blakes and led the team in tackles, but was not as disruptive in the backfield.

Darius Prelow who was a starting safety last year is sliding over to the "Hawk" posotion. He was already tied for second on the team with Blakes in number of tackles and that number will probably go up now that he's playing in a more aggressive position. In the safety positions will be Isaiah Newsome and converted cornerback Nate Brown. The two corners will be returning starter Otis Peterson and in place of the dismissed Robert Nelson, Vincent Eddie.

The Special Teams

Returning Starters: 2
Key Players: PK Radi Jabour, P Aaron Munoz
Key Losses: -

Both kicking specialist return for the Warhawks. Radi Jabour is a good kicker and made 8 of 10 FGs last year and one of those misses was blocked. He has a pretty good leg two making both attempts from beyond 40 yards. Jabour also handled the kickoff duties and averaged 57.1 yards per kick. The punter is Aaron Munoz. He had just 2 touchbacks on 68 punts and 15 downed inside the 20 while averaging 38.6 yards per punt.

Initial Thoughts

Like some of Iowa's other early foes, ULM has enough starters returning to make them slightly dangerous. However, the Warhawks squared off against 3 FBS opponents last year (granted 3 really good ones) Arkansas, Auburn, and LSU and lost 7-31, 3-52, and 0-51 respectively. I don't believe that Iowa will have a margin of victory anywhere near 50 points, but a 3-TD win would be reasonable.

ULM doesn't have the size on defense to match up against Iowa's O-line and rushing attack. Their defense already looks to be aggressive with 8+ men in the box and will need to commit to that all game if they want to stop Coker. This should set up Iowa's play-action game.

On the other side of the ball, 2 QBs usually means you have no QBs. Though, with a fairly solid returning starter I'm not sure that that's the case with ULM. Spread offenses have given Iowa some problems in the past, but I don't think ULM's is potent enough to really challenge Iowa's defense. ULM only averaged 20 points per game last year, and if Iowa's defense is even a fraction as good as it was last year, I don't expect the Warhawks to score more than 13.

Further Reading: