The Warhawks are off to their best start in the seven years (2-2 1-0) since head coach Charlie Weatherbie took over the program. It's also the first time since 2005 (FAU 28-21) that ULM started Sun Belt play with a victory. That was the year the Warhawks went onto to be conference co-champs.
Under Weatherbie the Warhawks have historically started slow but always seem to finish strong. This year however ULM has played well even in losses. High powered Texas Tech was only able to muster 4 more points than ULM did against 2nd ranked Texas. Through five games the Warhawks are still the only Longhorn opponent to rush for over 100 yards. (Texas Tech -6)
So what has been the early difference in 2009?
"I think our guys are excited about playing and excited about going out and executing", said Weatherbie. "It's always nice to start conference play out with a win. We need to continue with that trend".
After ULM's 27-25 victory over Florida Atlantic, some of the Owl defensive backs were quoted as saying that ULM fooled them on their game plan. The Warhawks started the game with a long pass down field to big LaGregory Sapp and seemed to want to stretch the field more. Was that the Warhawk game plan all along?
"Yeah it was. We felt like we needed to take advantage of some of the things we saw on earlier film so we did".
Indeed it did work out as LaGregory Sapp had his biggest day of 2009 hauling in 7 passes for 96 yards and gave Trey Revell the confidence he needed to throw his way early. Tim Taylor was also able to exploit the Owl secondary with a big catch on third and long that kept a Warhawk drive alive.
Kickoff coverage has been an early issue this season as the Warhawks have already allowed 1,113 kick return yards on 22 kick offs and two touchdowns. Finding someone that can kick the ball into the end zone is not likely to happen either. In the Sun Belt conference alone there have been 102 kickoffs and only 5 have been touchbacks.
This past weekend ULM held the Owls to a 19.6 kick return average with a long of 39.
"I thought we did a pretty good job. I thought we kicked the ball a little better and our kick coverage was a little better but there are definitely some areas we still need to improve on. Overall I thought our kicking game played a lot better".
The Warhawks are this weeks feature game on the Sun Belt network when they face the Florida International Panthers. Weatherbie holds a 3-1 record against the Panthers and has won the last three contest. In fact it was 2005 when FIU came to Malone stadium and shocked the Warhawks 31-29 as ULM turned it over 3 times, one of which was returned 73 yards for the touchdown.
Last years contest was another nail bitter as the Warhawks were able to squeeze out the 31-27 victory. Holding a 21-3 halftime lead and 31-17 lead after three quarters, ULM failed to score in the fourth and held off a tenacious FIU rally for the win.
As for this weekends match up, Weatherbie kept it very vanilla on FIU.
"FIU has a very talented football team. They run the ball very well. They are a team that can beat anybody on any given Saturday just like the rest of the opponents in this conference".