As an offensive line goes, so does the ULM running game. In 2008 ULM was looking at a lot of fresh new faces in the trenches as ULM ran for 700 less yards than they did in 2007 or 60 yards less per game. All the blame doesn't fall on the feet of the offensive line though as ULM running backs had a tough time staying healthy as well.
Starting tailback Frank Goodin twisted his knee in the season opener in Auburn and required surgery forcing him to miss all of the Arkansas game. Backup running back Rodney Lovett sprained his ankle early in the Arkansas game and fought that the rest of the season.
It's 2009 now and the slate is clean, and the injuries have healed. Let's take a look at the current faces, new faces, and the departed faces no longer with the team.
Name: Frank Goodin
Classification: RS Junior
Height/Weight: 5'9 200lbs
Frank might have rushed for more yardage in 2008 his first year as the starting tailback but he had a much better and productive year in 2007 when he spelled Calvin Dawson. The big question coming into 2008 was can Frank handle the load of being an every down, grind it out, between the tackles runner.
At 5'9 and 200lbs, Frank keeps his body low to the ground and can shift gears and his direction quickly. He has power too. Goodin wowed 80,000+ fans at Alabama in 2007 when he broke 5 tackles and dove into the end zone tying the game at 14. Late in 2008 season against Troy, he ran over 2 Trojans and high stepped his way into the end zone helping the Warhawks pull off the upset.
There were also several factors that can be said slowed Frank down in 2008. For one, there were not a lot of holes to run through as ULM was tinkering with a new offensive line. 3 games into the season the Warhawks switched centers. A knee injury early in the season caused Frank to have surgery and miss the following week at Arkansas.
Final ThoughtsFrank needs to prove that is he is the #1 running back for the Warhawks and that he can carry the load. ULM returns 4 offensive lineman from 2008, and his health is back to 100%. Warhawk fans want to see the explosiveness they saw at Clemson and Alabama playing as a RS Freshman. If Goodin can do that, ULM can control the clock and increase their chances of winning the game.
Name: Rodney Lovett
Height/Weight: 5'11 203lbs
Junior Rodney Lovett came to the Warhawks in 2008 via Fort Scott Community College and was a work horse leading the juco nation with 326 carries. Rodney impressed his ULM teammates as well as the coaching staff and bolted to #2 on the depth chart in 2008.
While Lovett did not have overly impressive numbers (39-188 1 td) he did provide relief for Goodin and has the size to grind it out in short yardage situations. Rodney had his best game subbing for an injured Frank Goodin against Arkansas. He rushed the ball 17 times for 66 tough yards and did it for half the game on one healthy ankle.
That same ankle injury would keep Rodney out of the next 3 ULM games and continue to hamper him all season.
Final Thoughts:Rodney also is back to full strength and is expected to push Frank Goodin in the spring for more playing time. Both Frank and Rodney better watch their back though as there is another name that will surface in 2009
Name: Carl Elie
Classification: RS Freshman
Height/Weight: 5'10 198lbs
There is nothing like fresh competition and Carl Elie is ready to prove that he should be the ULM starting running back. Elie who red shirted in 2008 will make is debut this spring and look to impress the ULM staff.
Rewinding a bit, Carl came to ULM out of Immokalee FL, as part of the 2008 recruiting class. Elie fell right into the Warhawks lap when the Wisconsin Badgers pulled his scholarship late in the recruiting process.
Running a 4.45, Elie is a bit faster than Goodin and Lovett but he lacks the crucial experience those two have. On the other hand, this isn't playing quarterback and when the ball is snapped a running backs natural instincts kick in.
Final ThoughtsElie is just what the doctored ordered for Frank and Rodney. Another fast, strong, between the tackles runner that will heat up the starting running back race this spring. While Elie might not beat out Frank or Rodney injuries are a part of the game so he has to be ready.
Name: Gary Frazier
Height/Weight: 5'8 215lbs
Each team has a player that shows up and just does his job. Enter Gary Frazier. It seems like he has been at ULM forever but in 2008, Gary had a breakout season. With injuries to Goodin and Lovett came opportunities for Frazier.
Coming into 2008 Gary only carried the ball a total of 3 times. Frazier only ran the ball 9 times for 12 ayrds in 2008 but he will always have the memory of scoring his first and only touchdown to date against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Final ThoughtsFrazier has the respect of his teammates and coaching staff but unless the injuries pile up look for Gary to continue to do what he does best and that is be a great teammate and dependable backup.
Look out for the true freshman! While ULM usually likes to red shirt it's incoming running backs, don't be surprised if one of these 3 don't make a name for themselves in summer workouts. Washington's speed (4.37), Edwards smooth, gliding running style, and Newsome's power will be hard to ignore. If the injuries do pile up, it's possible one or more of these could have the red shirt ripped off.
Name: Robert Williams
ULM's shifty running back Robert Williams is no longer listed on the team roster and if he doesn't show up in the spring, it looks as if his ULM career could be over.
Williams lead the Warhawks in 2008 with 33 kick returns for 681 yards (20.6), and had a long of 55. Robert carried the ball 13 times for 58 yards.