ULM Tandem Could Present Problems

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas might be a heavy favorite to beat Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock on Saturday night, but it's not a lead-pipe cinch to win.

This is not a gimme.

Two major ingredients for this reasoning are ULM senior quarterback Steven Jyles and junior wide receiver Drouzon Quillen.

They definitely could have a say in the outcome when the Razorbacks (1-3) and Indians (2-3) meet in a nonconference, but meaningful, game at 6 p.m. Saturday in War Memorial Stadium.

Remember, Jyles, a 6-foot-1, 191 pounder from Baton Rouge, La., and Quillen, a 6-6, 215 pounder from New Orleans, gave Arkansas fits in Little Rock last year.

Sure, the Razorbacks won 49-20 on Sept. 18, 2004, but things were more than interesting before halftime.

Arkansas led only 21-17 with 12 minutes, 6 seconds before the break. That's when Quillen made a catch off of a pass from Jyles and turned it into a 77-yard touchdown.

Then things got a little tense.

"We had them scared for a little while," Quillen said. "We kind of had them on the ropes for a while. I think the crowd got a little nervous.

"We loved it.

"They have great fans there in Arkansas, and in Little Rock. They appreciate a good football game and I think both teams gave them one, for at least a half. We just kind of ran out of steam in the second half.

"That was the difference."

Quillen finished with 3 catches for 127 yards against the Razorbacks. Jyles was 13 of 31 for 298 yards and 2 interceptions in the loss.

Last year, Quillen was ULM's receiving leader and No. 7 in the Sun Belt Conference with 44 catches for 758 yards. His average of 17.2 yards a catch was the highest among the conference's 10 leading receivers and his 7 touchdowns were No. 3 among league leaders.

He had 11 plays of 20 yards or more.

Quillen had 32 catches as a true freshman (2002) for 514 yards and 44 catches as a redshirt sophomore for 758 yards (2004).

"He's by far our most talented receiver," said ULM associate head coach Bob Leahy. "He's got a great combination -- height, speed and great hands.

"He showed his big-play capacity last year."

In five games this season, Quillen has 16 reception for 304 yards and 4 touchdowns. He's also got an eye-opening 19.0 per-catch average.

"He's a playmaker," Jyles said. "I mean, the guy makes the plays. We've definitely got to get the ball in his hands. What I like about him the most is he's 6-6. He's a big target. You can pretty much throw the ball up and over the defender and he'll go get it."

Quillen, too, appreciates Jyles.

"He's been our one constant over the last couple of years," he said. "We came in as freshmen together. I wound up having to redshirt. He's seen everything, good times and bad times, since he's been here.

"He's kind of held us together." That's exactly what happened last weekend when ULM rallied to beat Arkansas State 31-27 in the final minute.

On Monday, Jyles was named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week. He accounted for all four ULM touchdowns, including the winning score with 36 seconds left in the game.

Jyles connected with Quillen for two scores and ran one in during an eight-minute span as ULM jumped out to a 21-7 lead in the second quarter.

He threw for 261 yards on 16 of 31 passes. He also rushed for 68 yards in the game. Jyles, already the ULM career total offense leader, moved to within 92 yards of former Indians player John Holman on the ULM career passing list.

Jyles has 7,715 passing yards for his career.

Jyles came into his senior season not only the Sun Belt Conference's 2004 season total offense champion, but the league's career total yardage leader with 7,563 yards.

In three previous seasons, Jyles threw for 2,318 yards and 17 TDs (2002), 2,112 yards and 14 touchdowns (2003) and 2,322 yards and 12 TDs (2004).

This season, he's 90 of 167 passing with 7 interceptions, 5 TDs and 983 yards. In addition, he's rushed for 177 yards and 4 touchdowns.

"He's a leader," said ULM coach Charlie Weatherbie. "He's a senior who's been through it all and the other players look up to him for success.

"He's been a good steady player. One you can depend on getting the job done.

"He's proven that.

"He's a good quarterback, who has played well for us." Jyles said the win against Arkansas State was a turning point for the Indians this season.

"We finally put a full game together as a team," he said. "We played well offensively and defensively. We're excited about being 2-0 in our conference. That's the goal we are pursuing, to win the conference championship and play in the New Orleans Bowl (the automatic bid the Sun Belt champion receives). In order to do that, you have to beat good teams like Arkansas State.

"Last weekend, we found a way to win."

That's what Jyles is looking for Saturday -- a way to win.

"We competed against them last year," he said. "Things just didn't go our way. We had more bad things happen than good things in that game.

"Maybe, it'll be different this time."

Quillen is of the same mindset.

"We pretty much, you know ... we respect them, but we think we have a great chance at beating them," Quillen said. "We are coming in with that on our minds.

"We didn't make all the adjustments we should have at halftime last year. We couldn't get anything going in second half.

"We can't be satisfied with playing them close for a half. We have to play the entire game against them."

"Oh, they have a great team again this year. Defensively, they do a lot of things and make things happen. It won't be easy.

"It should be fun."

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