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ULM Warhawks vs. Idaho Vandals Preview

Will the Warhawks improve to 2-0 in their first #FunBelt game of the year?

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Where: Monroe, Louisiana

When: Saturday, 7 pm EST (6 pm CST)

TV: ESPN3

Line: ULM -14 (opened ULM -11.5), o/u 52.5 (opened 58)

The Warhawks are coming off of an impressive win over a Power 5 team, a game in which the defense absolutely shut down anything Wake Forest tried to get going on offense. Meanwhile, we don't really know too much about this Vandals team that did not play week one because of thunderstorms in Gainesville. So what should you be looking for on each side of the ball on Saturday night?

When the Warhawks are on offense:

Look for Pete Thomas to take some more shots downfield against what could be a suspect Idaho secondary (they lose a lot of production out of that position from last year). He dropped back 42 times (41 passes, one sack) but only averaged 4.5 yards per dropback. And even though the Warhawks scored 17 points in the game, the only offensive points came from Pete Thomas' 9-yard run with about five minutes left in the game.

That will probably mean getting Rashon Ceaser more involved in the offense. Thomas only attempted a few passes to him, and he ended up with just one catch for six yards. Ceaser is likely the most explosive skill player the Warhawks have, so he has to get more than one touch for the offense to be successful.

When the Warhawks are on defense:

I want to see how much of last Thursday's performance was a fluke, and how much of it was what we can come to expect for the rest of the season. The secondary is probably the defense's best unit, so look for them to continue to limit big plays and force some turnovers.

Matt Linehan, a redshirt freshman, will likely be getting the start at QB for the Vandals. He was a two-star recruit out of high school two years ago. Outside of this high school tape from a couple of years ago, we don't really know too much about him. Chad Chalich, who split time at QB last year for the Vandals, will probably see some time under center as well. He's a pretty raw athlete who probably has more talent in his legs than his arm at this point.

I also want to keep an eye on the line play. The Warhawks dominated the line of scrimmage on defense last week, but will probably face a tougher test this week. The Vandals return four of five starters from last year and should lead the Vandals to more than -3 rushing yards.

Prediction:

I'll take the Warhawks, something like 24-13. ULM should be able to get things going through the air while continuing to grind things out on the ground with Centarius Donald and Tyler Cain. On defense, ULM might give up some big runs but will keep the passing game in check. Finally, I think Ceaser might break a big play in special teams. If he's not getting the ball on offense, he's bound to make a big play in some other way at some point.