Keys To Victory: Tulsa @ ULM
There is a buzz going on in the city of Monroe about the ULM Warhawks that has not been this big in years. The Louisiana Warhawks will host the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (yes Hurricane, not Hurricane's) this Thursday night on ESPN2 at 6pm.
If the ULM Warhawks are to be victorious, there are several battles that must be won and some of those have nothing to do with X's and O's.
The Warhawks must be physically prepared to face Coach Malzahn's no huddle spread offense. ULM has faced the no huddle before, but not for an entire game, not like this. The Hurricane is going to put the "hurry" into Hurricane with their fast paced quick trigger offense. ULM must come out and set the tone. Blow up some plays early in the game and make Tulsa start to think. The worst thing that could happen is letting Paul Smith and his receivers get into a rhythm and start picking ULM apart.
Win the war up front
Control the line of scrimmage, it's as simple as that. Most would say have to score points to win. True, but how are you going to do that if you are getting pushed backwards. If ULM is going to win this game they MUST win the battle in the trenches. There is a zero chance of victory if your opponent is winning that battle and pushing you around.
The Warhawks must come out and establish that dominance on the line and that goes for both sides of the ball. If ULM can establish itself early and let Tulsa know it's going to be a long night, a win is in ULM's favor.
A missed extra point, no big deal right? WRONG! The 2006 version of ULM found that out the very hard way. Once an extra point is missed, you are chasing that point the rest of the game.
Week 2 vs Kansas a missed extra point cost ULM a victory 21-19. Bitten again in week 5 when ULM missed another extra point vs Arkansas State, the Warhawks could have kicked a fg late to tie it but lost 10-6. Fast forward to the Arkansas game. ULM takes it to the hogs driving right down the field and scoring to take a 7-0 lead. Two bad snaps over punter Scott Love's head and ULM is down 14-7 and the momentum and game were lost.
A bad snap, a bobbled hold, a shanked kick, a missed extra point, all seem small but in fact can and will determine the outcome of a close game. ULM must play an error free game in the special teams department in order to beat Tulsa.
Statistics don't lie and they make for a very good measuring stick when you're talking wins and losses. The team that wins the turnover war will most likely win that football game. The ULM defense has done very well in this department the last 3 seasons and look to continue that trend. Offensively the Warhawks must protect the football and not give Tulsa good field position or cheap points. Make them earn everything.
It's a thing you take for granted until it affects you. On one play your season can go from championship contender to "wait till next year." The Louisiana Warhawks are not as deep as some of the non conference opponents they will face. Staying on the field will be a huge key to winning and competing in these games. One injury to a key player can change the whole game plan and make a team more predictable.
Attitude(The will to win)
Winning is contagious and so is losing. For the last 10 years ULM has done the latter of the two. The players must believe they can win. Come out fired up and keep that intensity up for four quarters of football. Oh by the way, that doesn't just go for the players, that applies to the FANS in the stands as well. The ULM faithful must show their support for the team, get off your tails and cheer for the home team. The players live off that energy. If you want proof just look back to ULM's 14-0 home basketball record a season ago.
"The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur."
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