This is a different ULM team though, one coming off a pair of thrilling victories to open the 2014 season. The Warhawks went down 10-0 at halftime to Wake Forest in the opener, then scored 17 unanswered to pull out the victory. Last week against Idaho, ULM broke a 31-31 tie with nine seconds remaining to remain undefeated after two weeks.
But this weekend will be a much stiffer challenge for ULM. LSU’s riding high after a rout of Sam Houston State and will hope for a similar result this weekend. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. and ESPNU will have the broadcast.
We’re here to preview the Warhawks from every angle, and today we’ll provide the offensive scouting report. More after the jump, but first, here are ULM’s projected starters:
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
QB: Pete Thomas (R-Sr., 6-5, 236)
RB: Centarius Donald (Sr., 6-1, 223)
WR: Ajalen Holley (So., 5-10, 192)
WR: Rashon Ceaser (Jr., 6-0, 188)
WR: Kenzee Jackson (Sr., 5-10, 176)
TE: Alec Osborne (So., 6-3, 226)
RT: Chase Regian (R-Fr., 6-2, 289)
RG: Ben Risenhoover (Sr., 6-2, 290)
C: Colby Mitchell (Jr., 6-1, 283)
LG: Demiere Burkett (Sr., 6-2, 301)
LT: Joseph Treadwell (Sr., 6-5, 324)
Key Backups: RB Tyler Cain (Jr., 5-8, 185), WR Tony Cook (Jr., 6-4, 182)
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
ULM head coach Todd Berry and offensive coordinator Steve Farmer bring one of the Sun Belt’s top offenses into Tiger Stadium. The Warhawks rank fourth in the Sun Belt in total offense (443 yards per game) and passing (286.5 yards per game).
Pete Thomas is a big reason why and he’ll be the most accomplished quarterback LSU has faced thus far. ULM serves as the third FBS school Thomas has attended. He began his career with Colorado State, where he started all 12 games as a true freshman, setting the single season program record for completion percentage. After his sophomore season was cut short due to injury, Thomas opted to transfer to North Carolina State. He returned to the field last season after sitting out 2012 due to transfer rules and made six starts for the Wolfpack, completing 60 percent of his passes for 1,667 yards and four touchdowns.
Now a grad student, Thomas has had a decent start in Monroe. At 6-foot-5, he’s a prototypical pocket passer and isn’t a threat on the ground. He’s 47-for-85 so far at ULM, throwing for 573 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
The ULM coaches have a lot of faith in Thomas, as he’s thrown more than 40 passes in each game so far. But the Warhawks aren’t necessarily going to test the LSU secondary deep. Thomas is averaging just 12.2 yards-per-completion. For comparison’s sake, Anthony Jennings averages 26.7 yards-per-completion.
ULM doesn’t have the tallest receiving corps in the country. Only one WR in the two-deep measures taller than 6-feet, but the Warhakws have found plenty of production at the position. Kenzee Jackson and Ajalen Holley have been Thomas’ favorite targets, each racking up at least 170 receiving yards this season.
ULM does also get the running backs and tight ends involved in the passing game. Both RBs Centarius Donald and Tyler Cain have at least six catches this year, as does TE Alec Osborne.
ULM isn’t just a passing team though, as Donald has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in each game thus far. He ranks second in the Sun Belt Conference with 228 rushing yards, and he accounts for half the Warhawks’ touchdowns (three of six). He’s the workhorse of the ULM RBs, receiving about 2.5-times more carries than his backup. You can expect ULM to rely heavily on Donald if they struggle to get the passing game going against LSU’s elite secondary.
The ULM offensive line has allowed four sacks this season and is anchored by senior left tackle Joseph Treadwell. The 6-foot-5, 324 pounder could potentially hear his name called in next year’s NFL Draft, and he’ll be the Warkhawks’ primary point of defense against the LSU pass rush. The rest of the offensive line could have trouble though as they don’t quite measure up physically. The Tigers had a field day last week against a smaller offensive line, and they’ll hope for similar results this weekend.