Louisiana-Monroe has never had a four-game losing streak under head coach Todd Berry. I'm not saying it's guaranteed to happen this weekend, but there's a reason the school is getting paid $1.1 million ($0.0 of which is going to the players) just to show up. Still, there are some things Warhawks fans can look for that might turn out to be bright spots.
Where: College Station, Texas (Kyle Field)
When: Saturday, noon ET (11am CT)
TV: SEC Network
Line: ULM +33 (opened +29.5), o/u 59
F/+ Rankings: A&M 62nd, ULM: 117th
What to watch for:
Myles Garrett is terrifying, but the rest of the Aggies front is soft as hell. So the Warhawks offense getting to 20+ points that would be an encouraging sign. Of course, they weren't able to do that against Texas State so it might just be asking too much of them.
I feel like a broken record at this point, but I want to see more carries from Centarius Donald and Tyler Cain. They combined for just 29 carries last week (most of which came in the first half as ULM built a 13-0 lead) and averaged a respectable 4.3 yards per carry.
Berry reiterated this week that his has a pass-first mentality on offense, but at some point he has to realize that the gameplan has to change a bit when Pete Thomas, who is averaging less than six yards per attempt this season, is under center. Right? Sure, we'll probably see Ajalen Holley get behind the defense once for a 65-yard touchdown pass. But outside of that, don't we all already know what's coming? A bunch of five-yard outs to Rashon Ceaser, a few dump-offs to Tyler Cain, blah, blah, blah. And the drives sputter short of the endzone, and the Warhawks settle for field goals. I don't want to see this happen, but until they prove they are capable of doing something more, it's all we can expect.
A&M QB Kenny Hill has struggled a bit over the last month, and I think we'll see a good amount of freshman QB Kyle Allen taking snaps for the Aggies. They've had a bye week, and now against a clearly inferior opponent, it's an opportunity to see what Allen's got without risking too much. What does that mean for the ULM defense?
Well, not too much. Hill probably has a bit more of an ability to pick up some yards on the ground when the play breaks down, but the overall playcalling will remain pretty much the same. That means a lot of four- and five-wide sets, a lot of quick passing, and the occasional downfield shot.
If the Warhawks are healthy (they've had some injuries in the defensive backfield the last few weeks), they might be able to hang around for a bit. The key will be the pass rush: Gerrand Johnson, Michael Johnson, Hunter Kissinger, and Ray Stovall could all get major minutes for most teams in the SEC. They'll have a chance to prove it on Saturday.
In ULM's four losses this season they've been able to, at the very least, keep it close for a half. I think they can do that again. Berry tends to focus on the run game early, and that could have success against the Aggies.
But depth is a serious issue for this Warhawks team, especially along both lines. I think the Aggies wear down the ULM defensive front and put up some big offensive numbers as the game gets out of hand in the fourth quarter. Texas A&M 51, ULM 13.