Baylor Bears vs. ULM Warhawks Preview

A 1-1 team from the Sunbelt conference is usually one that most opponents would take for granted. However, when your win is over the #8 ranked team on the road, and your loss is an overtime loss to an SEC school, you get a bit more attention. Let's take a look at the Warhawks.

The Bears and Warhawks get together on Friday night for both the first road game for the Baylor Bears and the first home game for Louisiana-Monroe. With an ESPN National broadcast coming to Monroe, and an expected sellout, Friday night should be a great atmosphere for a football game, and one that the Bears hope is not a recipe for an upset.

The Warhawks are led by 3rd year coach Todd Berry, who some of you might remember from his days at Army, where he coached at from 2000-2003. Berry has struggled in his first two years at ULM, compiling just a 9-15 record, including a 7-9 record in the Sun Belt conference.

Players to Watch:

Offense – Kolton Browning, QB, Junior

PASSING

Cmp

Att

Pct

Yds

Y/A

TD

INT

2010

FR

234

378

61.9

2552

6.8

18

12

2011

SO

244

419

58.2

2483

5.9

13

8

2012

JR

70

113

61.9

649

5.7

6

1

Browing is the main man for the Warhawks. He is the second three year starter to appear against the Bears this year, and will be a step up from both of the quarterbacks the Bears have seen this year. The Warhawks run everything through Browning, as he has been involved in 8 of 9 of their total touchdowns (6 passing, 2 rushing). The only other player to score a touchdown on the ground is starting tailback Jyruss Edwards.

RUSHING

Att

Yds

Avg.

TD

Rush Yard %

2010

FR

171

358

2.3

4

25.87%

2011

SO

143

443

3.1

5

23.88%

2012

JR

30

127

4.2

2

41.78%

As you can in the chart above, Browning is also involved quite a bit in the rushing attack, though much more heavily this year.

Others to watch – Jyruss Edwards, RB; Brent Leonard, WR

Defense – Mitch Lane, Hybrid

Lane is the starting player at the Hybrid position, similar to Ahmad Dixon for the Bears. He is a redshirt-freshman from Petal, Mississippi. Lane is their leading tackler with 14 tackles, and had added 1 interception along with 3 passes defended. In both of their games, he has been all over the field making plays and helping to finish off tackles.

Others to watch –R.J.Young, LB; Cameron Blakes, LB

Statistical Comparison

Rank

Team

FEI

Last

GE

GE

SOS

OE

OE

DE

DE

FPA

FPA

Wk

Rk

Rk

Rk

Rk

44

Baylor

0.079

46

0.63

1

0.03

1.54

3

-0.8

8

0.62

5

67

Louisiana Monroe

-0.01

82

0

58

0.68

0.41

24

0.112

76

0.49

64

The stats for Baylor only include the SMU game, as they do not count contests against FCS schools in their rankings. I would imagine our efficiency rankings would have fallen a bit if you included those. However, we can learn a little bit about ULM from this, as both of their games are against FBS (and SEC West) teams. The Warhawks have leaned on a very efficient offense and an average defense.

Team

Points/ Game

Yards/ Point

Points/ Play

Opp Points/ Play

Opp Yards/ Point

Baylor

59

10.4

0.881

21.1

0.261

Rank

2

7

2

20

34

Louisana - Monroe

31

15.5

0.315

12.8

0.481

Rank

36

65

70

89

88

The Bears offense so far has been elite, but again, the level of competition has been lower compared to what ULM has faced. They have put up the 36th best points per game rate in the country while playing two SEC teams. They have been average on Yards per point which to me describes the efficiency of an offense. The Bears score a point for every 10.4 yards, compared to 15.5 yards for the Warhawks. The Points/Play statistic shows you the explosiveness of an offense, with the Bears scoring a ridiculous .881 points for every offensive play they run.

Points/Quarter

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

OT

Baylor

14

10

21

14

0

RANK

13

47

2

2

N/A

Louisiana - Monroe

7

3.5

3.5

14

3

RANK

52

93

88

2

6

Here is a breakdown of where each team scores their points. The Bears best quarters are both in the second half, while the Warhawks really only excel in the 4th quarter. In both games, ULM has had to come back to force overtime. Against Arkansas, they score the last 21 points, after falling behind 28-7 to get to the overtime, where they converted a 4th down to win 34-31. Against Auburn, they were down 28-14, and scored the last two touchdowns of the game to get to overtime.

Keys to the Game

1. Survive the first punch – I expect there to be quite a bit of emotion in Monroe Friday night.The Bears have proven to be a good team at coming back, but if they keep playing with fire, they will get burned. ULM will come out with all of their guns blazing, and probably throw a few trick plays and take some risks on 4th down to keep those juices flowing. The Bears just have to survive that first punch, get up and start swinging themselves.

2. No deadly turnovers – Not all turnovers are created equal. Yes, they are all bad, but they are not all deadly. Turnovers that lead directly to a touchdown off of a fumble or interception are deadly. Also, turnovers that are deep in your own end can be as well. The bears cannot give the Warhawks easy points off of turnovers, or set them up for short drives to get points. That is putting the Bears defense in a no-win situation. The Bears have been +3 in turnovers per game (3rd in country), while the Warhawks have been +1.5 (tied for 14th best).

On the flip side of this, the Bears did a great job against SHSU of getting those deadly turnovers, either returning interceptions for touchdowns, as Darius Jones did, or by getting a fumble or interception deep in the opposition's territory. If the Bears can get a few extra points off of turnovers, and don't allow any, Baylor should walk out of Monroe happy.

3. Get those runners running! – As we spoke about in the recap of the SHSU game, the Bears running attack is a key part of their offense. It not only keeps them balances, but it also sets up the big play action plays that the Baylor offense thrives on. Baylor struggled to establish the run, especially in the first half against the BearKats, and that hampered their deep passing game, as the linebackers and safeties did not have to worry about the running threat that is shown on many of the deep passing plays the Bears run. Get started running early and get some big gains to get those defenders looking in the backfield.

4. Avoid the men in stripes – Last year, the Bears struggled with penalties, especially ones of the personal foul variety. This year, they are averaging 10 penalties per game, which ranks tied for 114th in the country. Baylor has been especially sloppy with pre-snap penalties, as they were flagged for multiple false starts against SHSU. Louisiansa-Monroe on the other hand has done a great job of avoiding flags, as they have only received 4 penalties per game, good for the 12th best rate in the country. If the Bears give ULM extra chances on offense and let them keep drives going, ULM will take advantage. On the flip side, the bears cannot kill their own drives with stupid penalties. Baylor has to get the penalty situation taken care of, or they will have an uphill battle against ULM.

5. Win the QB Battle – Kolton Browning is a good quarterback, at any level. He does a good job in the pocket, and throws a nice ball. He is not really elite at anything, but he isn't bad at anything. You can make the same case for Nick Florence, though I think Florence could have elite accuracy. Browning is the main cog of the Warhawk offense, while Florence is more of the spoke on the wheel. ULM has some nice skill players on offense, but none are even close to the ability that guys like Terrance Williams or Tevin Reese are, and none have the speed of several of the Bears receivers or Lache Seastrunk.

However, the Warhawks have been steady and have done enough to go to overtime against two more talented teams on the road. What will they do at home? The Bears need Florence to be the accurate, decisive quarterback we saw in the first game against SMU, and not the one that threw late, and inaccurately to receivers for much of the night against SHSU. They need to win the quarterback battle.


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