Auburn Opponent Preview, Game 3: ULM

Auburn's third game of the 2012 football season will be against Louisiana-Monroe and its home opener.

Part three in our series of previews of Auburn's 2012 football opponents features the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, who have never beaten the Tigers. In its most recent meeting with Auburn in 2010 ULM was blown out 52-3 by an Auburn team that went undefeated.

Despite a dismal 2011 season, finishing 4-8 (3-5 Sun Belt), ULM has a lot of optimism coming into the 2012 season with nine offensive starters back, including starting quarterback Kolton Browning.

In 2012 the junior will be starting his second career game in Jordan-Hare Stadium after competing in the 2010 contest as a true freshman. Completing 25-33 pass attempts, Browning connected for 203 of the team's 270 yards against Auburn.

Browning hooked ip with wide receiver Brent Leonard two times in 2010 for 34 yards, which became a trend during the 2011 season. In 12 games last season Browning found Leonard 64 times for 751 yards and four touchdowns.

After losing their 2011 leader in tackles and only returning five defensive starters, the Warhawks are going to need defensive ends Ken Dorsey and Kentarius Caldwell to help stop Auburn's running game, something ULM couldn't do in the 2010 game. Of the Tigers' 233 rushing yards, none of which came from quarterback Cam Newton, Onterio McCalebb recorded 56 yards on four rushes.

The Warhawks are expected to improve from 2011 and finish in the top half of the Sun Belt this year, potentially making a push to win the title. However, beginning the season with trips to Arkansas and Auburn will postpone any celebration plans that may be brewing in Monroe, La.

Three-year starter Kolton Browning is expected to have a big 2012 season

Key Players to Replace:Linebacker Jason Edwards led the team in tackles with 100 a year ago. He also recorded 3 1/2 tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. Defensive end Troy Evans led the team in sacks last season with 5 1/2 and finished second with 12 TFL also recording 43 tackles. Safety Darius Prelow led the 2011 Warhawks in interceptions with four while finishing second in tackles with 77.

All-Star Candidates:Running back Jyruss Edwards (143 rushes, 667 yards, 11 TDs); quarterback Kolton Browning (244-419 attempts, 2,483 yards, 13 TDs, 8 INT); wide receiver Brent Leonard (69 receptions, 751 yards, 4 TDs); wide receiver Tavares Maye (50 receptions, 617 yards, 3 TDs); defensive end Ken Dorsey (49 tackles, 13 TFL, 4 1/2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles); safety Isaiah Newsome (62 tackles, 3 INT)

Series Results:Auburn leads 8-0

Louisiana-Monroe's Schedule:

Sept. 1--ULM at Arkansas (Little Rock, Ark.)
Sept. 15--ULM at Auburn
Sept. 21--Baylor at ULM
Sept. 29--ULM at Tulane
Oct. 6--ULM at Middle Tennessee State
Oct. 13--Florida Atlantic at ULM
Oct. 20--ULM at Western Kentucky
Oct. 27--South Alabama at ULM
Nov. 3--UL-Lafayette at ULM
Nov. 8--ULM at Arkansas State
Nov. 17--North Texas at ULM
Nov. 24--ULM at Florida International

Key Games for Louisiana-Monroe

UL-Lafayette at ULM-Louisiana-Monroe will need a win over the Ragin' Cajuns if it wants a chance to potentially win the conference. Last year's 36-35 loss will be on the minds of Warhawk players as they take the field in this major game of 2012.

ULM at Arkansas State-A season after going 8-0 in conference games to win the Sun Belt, new Red Wolves Head Coach and former Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will welcome Todd Berry's team in a late-season game that could decide the 2012 conference winner. ULM will be looking to avenge last season's 24-19 home loss to Arkansas State.

Head Coach Todd Berry hopes to lead his team to a successful season after finishing 4-8 overall in 2011

Worth Noting:Auburn has a perfect 16-0 record against current Sun Belt teams.

The Challenge For Auburn:Week three is vital for Auburn players to get some rest after starting the season with tough games against Clemson and Mississippi State and before playing host to LSU in week four. It would be a plus for the Tigers to build a comfortable first half lead allowing Auburn to give significant playing time to young players while keeping the starters as fresh as possible for the LSU game.

Game 2, Mississippi State

Game 1, Clemson

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