football

Warhawk Inside Slant

ULM is looking for its first winning season
since moving up to the FBS (formerly I-A) level
in 1994, and that time could be coming in 2012.
The Warhawks have the offensive firepower to
accomplish the breakthrough and contend for
their second Sun Belt Conference championship
after getting a piece of the 2005 title.
The keys to improving on last year's 5-7
record will be surviving the first month of the
schedule and finding answers on defense.
In their first three games, the Warhawks will
go to Little Rock to play Arkansas, to Auburn,
and then host Baylor at home. They finish
September at Tulane. If they can get out of that
stretch no worse than 1-3, they should go into
conference play with a confident outlook. A 2-2
mark would have them virtually giddy.
As for the defense, coach Todd Berry and his
staff spent most of the spring taking a close
look at many of his younger players, who are
going to have to grow up and grow up fast.
The Warhawks held out many true freshmen last
year with an eye toward developing them for
2012.
Three sophomores-Otis
Peterson at corner,
Cordero Smith at safety, and
Joey Gautney at end-and a redshirt freshman,
Gerrand Johnson at nose tackle-will go into
the fall No. 1 on the unit's depth chart.
NOTES, QUOTES
Even with starter and leading
tackler Jason Edwards gone, linebacker looks to
be the strength of the defense. Newcomer Austin
Moss has moved into a starting role after his
big spring. He emerged No. 1 on the depth chart
ahead of returning starter
R.J. Young, who was slowed injury in the
spring.
Cameron Blakes is a returning starter.
The Warhawks will begin the 2012
season with their usual gauntlet. They open
Sept. 8 in Little Rock against Arkansas, which
is getting some consideration as a BCS
contender, followed by a trip to 2010 national
champion Auburn. A home game against Baylor and
trip to Tulane wind up the first month. The
schedule later features a home game against new
Sun Belt Conference member South Alabama on Oct.
27.
Key Questions: ULM spent much of the
spring taking long looks at newcomers on both
sides of the ball, but the need for some new
faces to step up is particularly critical on
defense. Some answers in the secondary may not
come until freshmen signees report in the fall.
Spring Movers:
LB
Austin Moss-With his prior experience-11
games at Arkansas in 2009 and last year at
Navarro JC in Texas-Moss was expected to have an
immediate impact, and he didn't disappoint. He
goes into the fall as a starter.
NT Gerrand Johnson-Johnson was the only
redshirt freshman to earn a No. 1 spot on the
depth chart on either defense or offense.
LB
DaCorris Ford-Ford has not seen much in the
way of playing time for much of his career but
came out of the spring as a starter on a deep
linebacking corps.
Quote To Note: "We are certainly
going to be challenged in the non-conference
portion of the schedule, which I think is going
to help us once we get into Sun Belt
play."-Coach Todd Berry, on the first month of
ULM's 2012 schedule.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
2012 Outlook: ULM looks to be able
to move the football because of its depth and
talent at the skill positions on offense. The
defense must replace leading tacklers Jason
Edwards and Darius Prelow and has some other
holes to fill. But if the right answers are
found, the Warhawks should contend for the Sun
Belt title.
Scouting The Offense: QB
Kolton Browning leads a contingent of
returnees that includes RBs
Jyruss Edwards and
Centarius Donald and WRs
Brent Leonard,
Tavarese Maye, and
Colby Harper. Three veteran starters-Josh
Allen,
Ben Risenhoover, and
Jonathan Gill-return up front. Injury
problems at tight end hurt last year's running
game, but the Warhawks will have veterans
Keavon Milton and
Kevin Steed back this time.
Scout The Defense: Both ends, a
linebacker, and half the secondary must be
replaced from a unit that played pretty well for
most of the year. The emergence of redshirt
freshman Gerrand Johnson at nose tackle has
allowed
Kentarius Caldwell, who played there last
season, to move back to end. LB Austin Moss'
play in the spring is key development. Coach
Todd Berry likes the speed in the secondary, and
the Warhawks are bringing in a big class of
defensive backs in their 2012 signing class.
Scouting The Special Teams: PK
Justin Manton was only 6-of-14 on field
goals last season and only 2-of-10 from beyond
30 yards. The Warhawks are looking for a new
punter with sophomore
Conner Fryoux the leader going into the
fall. Redshirt freshman
Caleb Gammel will compete for both
positions. Jyruss Edwards (kickoffs) and
Tyler Cain (punts) are experienced return
men.
Top Newcomers:
LB
Jacob Tyson-Tyson is a local product from
West Monroe High and should fit in with the
Warhawks' 3-3-5 scheme.
DB
Tryen Hills-Hills, from Boutte, La., got
three stars from Rivals.com. At 6-1, 180, the
has the size to cope with bigger receivers.
DB
Lenzy Pipkins-Pickens played only one season
of high school football, but he broke up seven
passes and had an interception for Mansfield
(Texas) High. He is an outstanding athlete with
good speed who also played basketball in high
school.
Roster Report:
C Joseph Allen is moving back to his
original position after starting at guard in
2011 because of need here. He had eight starts
at center as a true freshman in 2010.
DE Kentarius Caldwell returns to an
outside spot up front after starting 12 games at
nose tackle as a sophomore last year.
OG
Elliot Hilliard moves from the defensive
line to the offensive interior. He was No. 2 on
the depth chart behind returning starter
Jonathan Gill coming out of spring.
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