Enter Troy Reffett, whose defensive philosophy is designed for rosters like ULM's. With a shallow pool of top-flight defensive linemen to choose from, the Warhawks will now be able to put faster, more aggressive players on the field. Quarterbacks under pressure make mistakes. You get the idea.
--Will Trey Revell be an upgrade at quarterback? No player is ever as popular as the backup quarterback, a position that Revell held for two years behind Kinsmon Lancaster. With Lancaster gone, Revell's the man now. He's only shown a glimpse of his talents to ULM fans, but his development is crucial to the Warhawks. Revell is mobile, has a big arm and players respond to his leadership.
With the surprising loss of expected backup Zach Rhodes before camp started, Revell needs to be effective and stay upright.
--Return of the running game? Nothing would make Revell's transition easier than a return to strong running. A couple of years ago, a veteran offensive line helped Calvin Dawson smash school records and gave the unit its identity.
Presumptive starting tailback Frank Goodin was limited by a hamstring injury in camp, and the line is a question mark too. This is an area that bears watching.
--The kicking game: A missed field goal cost ULM a signature win last year at Arkansas, when the Warhawks were still settling in on a kicker. Now the job belongs to strong-legged Radi Jabour, a promising player with experience on his side. In a conference where games are often decided by close margins, having a consistent kicker is a huge plus.
--Weatherbie watch: Weatherbie enters the final year on his contract and likely needs a breakthrough season to extend his stay in Monroe. Weatherbie has made strides during his tenure, including a share of the Sun Belt title in 2005 and a 6-6 finish in 2007. The Warhawks have recruited better and signed hometown talent.
Still, there were rumblings after last year's 4-8 finish and it might take a winning record or a bowl bid to secure Weatherbie's future. With so much at stake, Weatherbie seems to handling things differently. He's made staff changes, closed practices to fans and the media, and scheduled practices for Sundays. One way or the other, this will be a watershed season for ULM football.