ULM Warhawks Game Preview

The Texas Longhorns are finally ready to start its 2009 season as they play host to the University of Louisiana at Monroe, or ULM as they prefer. The Warhawks travel to Austin as prohibitive underdogs to the #2 Longhorns. Burnt Orange Beat gets you ready for all of the opening day festivities with this game preview.

#2 TEXAS LONGHORNS (Big 12) vs. ULM WARHAWKS (Sun Belt)
Darrell K Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium/Joe Jamail Field (100,119)
Sat., Sept. 5, 6:00 p.m. Central
TV: FSN PPV
Radio: Longhorn Sports Network and KVET (1300 AM/98.1 FM)

ULM 2008 RESULTS (4-8, 3-4 Sun Belt)
L 34-0 at Auburn
L 28-27 vs. Arkansas
W 37-15 vs. Alabama A&M
L 24-10 at Tulane
L 44-35 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
L 37-29 at Arkansas State
W 35-23 vs. North Texas
L 29-28 vs. Florida Atlantic
W 31-30 vs. Troy
L 24-21 at Middle Tennessee
L 59-0 at Ole Miss
W 31-27 at Florida International

ULM 2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 at Texas
Sept. 12 TEXAS SOUTHERN
Sept. 19 at Arizona State
Sept. 26 at Florida Atlantic
Oct. 3 FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL
Oct. 13 ARKANSAS STATE
Oct. 24 at Kentucky
Oct. 31 at Troy
Nov. 7 NORTH TEXAS
Nov. 14 WESTERN KENTUCKY
Nov. 21 at Louisiana-Lafayette
Nov. 28 MIDDLE TENNESSEE

First meeting between these teams

Saturday's game will be the time these schools have met. The two are also not slated for another game at this point. Texas is 13-0 against the Sun Belt conference. ULM is 0-10 versus Big 12 opponents. The Warhawks are 0-19 versus ranked teams since 1994. ULM is 0-15 in road openers, including five shut out losses.

Texas true freshman to play

At least eight true freshmen are likely to see their first action on Saturday night. The first of the freshmen to see the field is likely to be safety Kenny Vacarro. The safety from Early, Texas will be on special teams. Tight end Barrett Matthews may also show up quickly on special teams.

The first to see significant time will be defensive end Alex Okafor who will play a key role on the defense as the season goes along.

Other freshman expected to see action are defensive tackle Calvin Howell, quarterback Garrett Gilbert and guard Mason Walters. Defensive end Tevin Mims and receiver/return man Marquise Goodwin may also see the field.

Gilbert likely won't see the field until the game is in hand. The question becomes when is that for Coach Brown? BOB believes Gilbert will see action early and will get the chance to run the offense as he must prepare to take over as a sophomore and in case of injury.

First action as Longhorns

Many players expected to see the field for the first time as Texas Longhorns Saturday including sophomore defensive tackle Tyrell Higgins, running back Tre Newton, running back/receiver, D.J. Monroe, linebacker Ryan Roberson, receiver DeSean Hales, offensive guard Mark Buchanan, offensive tackle Luke Poehlmann, and defensive end Dravannti Johnson.

Monroe will likely play the most and have the biggest role on the team this year. With his academic eligibility issues behind him, Monroe has provided a spark with his blazing speed at running back. He's also proven to have the toughness to receive some carries and have a role defined. Pass protection is the area that Monroe will struggle with the most and his ability to adapt there will likely determine his workload at running back.

Injuries

The Longhorns have lost three players for the season, all at the same position. Blaine Irby is out for the season and it's very much in question if he will play again. Ian Harris has had recurring issues with his neck/stingers, while red shirt freshman D.J. Grant tore all three major knee ligaments in practice in August.

Grant has already had one surgery to repair the hamstring and PCL and will have a second surgery in a few weeks to repair the ACL.

Season Openers

Texas is 96-17-3 in season openers in its 116-year history. When opening the season at home, Texas is even better with a 75-7-2 mark. Head Coach Mack Brown is 10-1 in season openers at Texas. Brown has won his last nine openers and twelve of his last thirteen, dating back to his days in Chapel Hill.

The Polls

Texas enters the season as #2 in both the USA Today Coaches Poll and the AP Poll. Texas has been ranked in the AP Poll for 142 consecutive weeks and 170 consecutive weeks in the Coaches Poll. Both are Texas records and the leading streak in the NCAA.

ULM offense players to watch

Luther Ambrose (#22) – The speedy sophomore WR played 11 games as a true freshman and averaged 18.1 yards per touch. Ambrose is best known for beating USC running back Joe McKnight in the 100-meter 2A state championship as a high school prep star. He also posted times of 10.44 and 10.38 in the 100-meters last year.

Darrell McNeal (#3) – The fifth year senior receiver will line up in the slot, in the backfield, returning kicks, and maybe even in a wildcat formation at quarterback. In 2008, he had four receiving touchdowns, four rushing touchdowns, and one passing touchdown. McNeal has 26 career starts.

LaGregory Sapp (#18) – The 6'3 205 fifth year senior wide out is big and physical. He missed last season due to academics, but he has started 24 games for the Warhawks.

ULM defensive players to watch

Cardia Jackson (#51) – The senior linebacker from Monroe is the top returning tackler in the SBC with 127 stops. He was an All-Sun Belt selection last year and has 33 career starts.

James Truxillo (#34) – The hybrid safety/linebacker is another fifth year player who will line up all over the field. He missed the majority of the 2008 season with an ACL injury.

Greg James (#2) – Second-year captain safety James enters the season as the NCAA's active leader with 13 career interceptions.

It's either Texas talent or local talent on the ULM roster

There are 22 Warhawks on the active roster from the Lone Star state, which trails only Louisiana with 46. Thirteen of those 22 are on the two-deep for the game, including half of the offensive line. There are twelve players from West Monroe or Monroe (known as the Twin Cities locally) and nine on the two deep.


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