ULM gave the Red Wolves exactly what they needed.
Take your pick, either recruiting for the Warhawks declined the last few years under Berry or they recruited at the same level while most of the league improved. Whichever it is, ULM’s talent isn’t at the level to compete for the Sun Belt.
In short, AState got the FCS tune-up the team needed at some point Week 1-3. It also resulted in a game that requires the addition of a few grains of salt in looking at the stats. With a 42-3 halftime lead, the final 30 minutes were approached differently.
As usual, let’s look at the keys identified before the game.
AState rushing. With ULM arguably having the nation’s worst rushing attack, the expectation was the Red Wolves would pound their way through this game. This certainly not the first time we’ve seen a Blake Anderson team facing a weaker opponent and choosing to work on an AState offensive trouble spot rather than focusing on exploiting the opponent’s most glaring weakness.
The Red Wolves ended the first half with 77 yards rushing on 18 carries but the stats don’t reveal the full story. We saw several nice gains on jet sweeps that went in the books as passes because the ball was tossed forward rather than handed off. Those were recorded as passes but functioned more like running plays. Similarly, some of the passes to Wand were more like toss sweeps except the toss was longer and forward.
Slow the ULM rushing attack. In the final stats ULM averaged about their normal yards per carry but if we back up to halftime, ULM was roughly 25% below their usual per carry average.
Red zone Scoring. AState had struggled to score in the red zone this season. Against ULM seven red zone trips produced seven scores and six of the seven produced touchdowns. A nice development.
Turnover margin. Another game where the Red Wolves made the USU, UCA, Georgia Southern stretch look like an odd hiccup. AState ended +2 in turnover margin.
The important stuff from the ULM game.
Looks like no significant injuries
AState was able to limit the number of snaps most starters played, hopefully making for quicker recovery as the Red Wolves head into a Thursday night game, while AState’s next opponent, Georgia State, played a game that went to the final play.
The starting and top subs on defense produced another strong performance.
The offense was able to work some of the rough edges off the passing game.
Now AState has to prepare for a short week in a game that is very important. AState has to win to keep hopes of a Sun Belt title strong, a win takes Georgia State out of the bowl picture, and would leave the Red Wolves needing only two wins to get bowl eligible.