Sophomore Centarius Donald delivered a breakout performance in ULM's 35-7 win over Grambling State. The thumper from Caldwell Parish High School pounded the Tigers for a career-high 144 yards on 12 carries and scored on a 55-yard gallop at Malone Stadium.
"I'm very pleased with Centarius," ULM coach Todd Berry said. "He's a guy that comes to work every day."
Donald is the first ULM player top 100 yards rushing since Frank Goodin gained 108 against Louisiana-Lafayette on Nov. 21, 2009. The only glaring blemish for Donald was a fumble at the tail end of an 18-yard burst in the third quarter.
"Centarius had a heck of a day running the football," ULM offensive coordinator Steve Farmer said in his post-game radio interview. "But you just cannot throw that thing down on the ground. That's something he has not done throughout fall camp or in practice here since school started."
ULM posted 452 yards of total offense with 247 on the hoof. Jyruss Edwards added 90 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. A former offensive lineman himself, Farmer praised the line's play in the game.
"They play hard," Farmer said. "They're looking to get after your (tail) and finish blocks. They take a lot of pride in knocking people down. I'm excited about this group. We've got a lot to build on with this group." Receiver Tavarese Maye's numbers gleam in the box score too. He made eight catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. Overall though, Berry wants more production from ULM's playmakers. Quarterback Kolton Browning completed 15-of-31 passes for 161 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
"Offensively, we're not making any plays," Berry said. "I don't quite get that. We're making plays all week and then we come out there on game day and we're dropping balls and not making plays. That's not like this group."
Farmer also noted the offense's miscues, including the dropped passes by the receiving corps.
"Last year they could play that youth card a little bit, so the pressure's not on you," Farmer said. "Right now, I believe that group is playing a little tight and therefore just simply not making plays. We've got to get out of that as a group."
Farmer said the coaching staff will work to correct the drops.
"It puts your offense in some really tough situations," Farmer said. "Just blatant drops. That's really hard to swallow. We have to go back and catch the ball more and put them in more pressure situations throughout the course of the week so they can respond a little better to that."
Crowded House: The second meeting between I-20 neighbors attracted 26, 532 to Malone Stadium. The crowd was the third largest in school history behind 30.101 for GSU-ULM I in 2007 and 28,725 for Louisiana Tech in 1998. "I'm glad we came out and put on a show for these fans," ULM's Troy Evans said in his post-game radio interview. "That's what it's about. We're trying to build this fan base and get people coming."
Nothing special: ULM has work to do in the kicking game -- lots of work. Freshman place-kicker Justin Manton missed field goals from 40 and 31 yards. ULM turned to senior Radi Jabour to open the third quarter and he booted his first kickoff out of bounds. Freshman Tyler Cain fumbled on a first-quarter punt return, leading to Grambling's recovery at the ULM 46 and the Tigers' only score of the night. Even in warm-ups prior to starting the second-half, backup punter Conner Fryoux shanked consecutive punts into the west side stands.
"I'm going to put an ad in the paper for a kicker," ULM coach Todd Berry quipped in his postgame radio interview. "Field position was a killer again for us."
Enemy lines: Grambling had a rough night at Malone Stadium. Freshman quarterback D.J. Williams threw two interceptions, the Tigers were two-for-15 on third down chances and gave up a blocked punt. ULM also registered six sacks.
"We made a lot of mistakes – bone-headed plays," Grambling coach Doug Williams said. "The scoreboard says it all – 35-7. They played a good game and we didn't. … We made too many bone-headed plays and it seemed like (ULM) took advantage of every one of them."
Quote to note: "I'm excited to be out here with these guys. I'm not even thinking about myself. I'm just out here trying to do what I can do to help this team win." – ULM defensive end Troy Evans, who made five tackles for loss.
Up next: The defending Rose Bowl champs are third on the schedule for ULM. No. 25 TCU won a road game against Air Force 35-19 on Saturday. The Horned Frogs (1-1) responded well from a surprising 50-48 loss at Baylor last week that ended their BCS-best 25-game regular-season winning streak. ULM visits TCU for the first time in Fort Worth, Texas on Sept. 17. Kickoff is 1 p.m.
Tail feathers: The home opener marked the debut of ULM's new scoreboard which featured replays and an impressive opening video that had the crowd buzzing … ULM's defense made six sacks, including two by Troy Evans. … The Warhawks scored on four of five red zone chances. … Khairi Usher made his first career interception for ULM. … Tim Taylor drew the start at cornerback in place of Rob'Donovan Lewis, who was held out with an injury. … Jonathan Gill was ULM's starter at right guard where he is rotating with freshman Ben Risenhoover. ... ULM's blocked punt was its first since Nov. 8, 2008, vs. Middle Tennessee. …Tight end Keavon Milton had a touchdown catch in the first quarter. Milton's four career catches have all gone for TDs.