WHO: Louisiana (6-3) at ULM (3-6)
WHEN: Saturday, November 15, 6pm
WHERE: JPS Field at Malone Stadium, Monroe, LA
WEATHER: 55°/43° 0% rain
LINE: -6.5 UL (opened -7.5)
When Louisiana and ULM kick off Saturday, each team will be putting a five game streak on the line. The Cajuns have won the last five, while the Warhawks have lost the last five. Saturday will also mark the 50th all-time meeting between the Cajuns and Warhawks, Louisiana leads the series 25-24. ULM won last season's meeting 31-28 at Cajun Field and the Warhawks hold a 14-12 advantage in Monroe. Let's look and see what needs to happen if the Cajuns want to continue their winning, or what ULM will need to do to stop their five game skid.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Pete Thomas, SR QB: The NC State transfer won the quarterback competition in the fall and hasn't looked back. Thomas has not lit up the stat sheet but he's been a steady and solid leader for the Warhawks who had to replace all conference quarterback Kolton Browning. The fifth year senior has tossed 9 touchdowns to only five picks and averages 228 yards per game through the air.
Centarius Donald, SR RB: The Columbia, LA native leads ULM with 540 yards on the ground and has scored 5 touchdowns. Donald has also proven to be a reliable target out of the backfield, he has 14 grabs for 92 yards.
Ajalen Holley, SO WR: Holley is third on the team with 41 catches but leads the Warhawks with 6 touchdown catches. The Hot Springs, AR product also leads ULM in receiving yards with 627 and yards per game, averaging 69.7.
Mitch Lane, JR S: Lane leads ULM in tackles with 66 tackles including 2.5 tackles for loss. The junior has started all nine games this season and also leads the Warhawks with three interceptions.
Hunter Kissinger, JR LB: The inside linebacker is second on the team with 61 stops and ranks second in both sacks with four and tackles for loss with 8.5. Kissinger has also recorded 2 interceptions, 2 quarterback hurries and recovered one fumble.
Michael Johnson, JR LB: The Maumelle, AR native has piled up 52 tackles from his outside linebacker position. Johnson, leads ULM with 5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss. He has also hurried the quarterback five times.
Elijah McGuire, SO RB: The Vanderbilt Catholic product leads Louisiana in both rushing and receiving. McGuire has racked up 912 yards on the ground along with 10 touchdowns and has caught 33 passes for 337 yards and two scores.
James Butler, SR WR: While Butler has not found the end zone yet this season, the senior has started to step up and help replace the injured Jamal Robinson. The Hahnville High product has 20 catches for 305 yards, he picked up five catches for 95 yards last week at New Mexico State.
Christian Ringo, SR DL: Ringo leads Louisiana with eight sacks and needs just one more to tie the single season sack record, he also has 14 tackles for loss and scored a touchdown with a 41 yard fumble return.
Tre'Maine Lightfoot, SO LB: Lightfoot did not see his first action of the season until the Arkansas State game. But since being activated, Lightfoot has seen increased playing time at linebacker. He has recorded 12 stops in three games.
For the Warhawks to end their 5 game slide, the offense will need to contribute with touchdowns, not field goals. ULM is dead last in the Sun Belt averaging only 18.7 points per game. Pete Thomas has a talented group of receivers to throw to; with four Warhawks having over 30 catches. The Cajun defense gives up 261.4 yards per game and only recorded six interceptions both last in the Sun Belt, ULM will need to exploit the pass defense if they want to halt their five game losing streak.
While the ULM defense leads the Sun Belt in total defense, giving up 252.9 yards per game the Warhawks are fourth in scoring defense giving up 26.9 points per game. Just as the Warhawk offense must find a way to score six, the defense must find a way to hold the Cajuns to field goals.
The Cajuns must stick to their identity and let the powerful running game dictate the game. As we saw last week, when the Cajuns are able to control the line of scrimmage with the running game it allows Terrance Broadway to take shots down field. In their last two conference games the Warhawks have allowed opponents to rush for 229 (TXST) and 101 (App), Louisiana will have the opportunity to rush the ball and they must take advantage of it. Alonzo Harris should be back from injury and will provide a big bruising presence between the tackles along with Elijah McGuire's big play ability.
On defense, it's simple...the Warhawks have had a tough time scoring points and the big play has been almost nonexistent. ULM does possess a talented receiving corps, it will be important that the Cajuns keep everything in front of them and make tackles when the ULM skill players are operating in space.
On Sunday, Cajun great Orlando Thomas passed away after a long courageous battle with ALS. The Cajuns will honor Orlando by having Sean Thomas wear his number 42. The Cajuns have also added a memorial decal to the back of their helmets. KATC's Travis Webb was able to get a preview of the decal.
While Louisiana's defense may still be ranked last in the league, the play of the unit over the last four games has been anything but the worst in the league. Switching to a four man front seems to have stabilized the defense, allowing for more pass rush thus exposing the secondary less and less. On offense the Cajuns have continued to play relatively mistake free, and have not turned over the football. I see no reason for anything to change. This game has had a tendency to be a tight affair over the last few seasons. However, the Cajuns will come out fired up, remembering last season's loss to ULM that kept the Cajuns from an outright championship. Louisiana 35 ULM 20.