Kickoff: October 7th, 2:00 pm CST
Location: Bobcat Stadium, San Marcos, TX
Radio: AM1300/AM930/89.9 FM
Series Record: 9-4, ULM
Betting Line: Louisiana-Monroe -6, O/U: 57
Last Meeting: ULM 40-34, 2016
Saturday’s match up pits two programs with second-year head coaches in Texas State’s Everett Withers and Louisiana-Monroe’s Matt Viator in the 31th anniversary of the first Warhawk-Bobcat game that took place at Bobcat Stadium.
Texas State looks to end their four game losing streak and get Coach Withers his first Sun Belt win against a Louisiana-Monroe team that despite their rough schedule have managed to churn out a 2-2 record. Warhawk coach Matt Viator is 4-3 against the Bobcats including both his tenure at McNeese State as a former Sun Belt rival to Texas State as well as his first season in Monroe.
Strategically Texas State has been rotating starting quarterback Damian Williams and true freshman Willie Jones III during times when the game is out of reach in an attempt to give the young signal caller some playing time. Williams has been pedestrian this season especially since his breakout game in a near upset of Appalachian State nearly three weeks ago. He's completed just 41.1% of his passes and has rushed for negative two yards in the past two games against UTSA and Wyoming. O-Line play has been the main factor as Williams has been having to make decisions outside of the pocket many times. Louisiana-Monroe themselves have rotated two quarterbacks in Caleb Evans and Garrett Smith but have stuck with Evans the past two games as he’s thrown two touchdowns and rushed for five in that span.
Evans and Smith were in competition with each other for the starting job but Coach Viator stuck with Caleb Evans who in turn blasted rival Louisiana-Lafayette for 343 yards passing with five rushing touchdowns and a passing touchdown. Smith also led Monroe to a last minute win over Coastal Carolina. For the Warhawks to win they’ll need a lights-out game from this sophomore under center.
The Warhawks have been competitive in their games including the close loss to Southern Miss. They've dropped 50-plus points in their last two contests. Texas State will have to be ready and prepared to run with the Warhawks and delete the mistakes of fluke plays and costly turnovers that have cost the ‘Cats in all their games.
Defensively the Bobcats should have linebacker Easy Anyama back from injury to attack the edge and with the corp of linebackers Texas State have they’ll need to plug the Warhawk run and force Evans out of his comfort zone to have success.
The Warhawks on defense have former Houston Cougar Caleb Tucker as he continued his rampage against Coastal Carolina from the defensive end spot with a game sealing fumble return for a touchdown to put the Chanticleers away. Tucker and the rest of the Monroe defense rank second in the Sun Belt for sacks.
In order for the Bobcats to have success they need to eliminate the mistakes (botched kickoff coverage, the most unusual strip sacks, etc.) to win this game or at least stay competitive. Add in tight end Gabe Schrade to supplement a thin receiving corp and hopefully the Texas State running attacks comes alive.
The Warhawks will have to use the relentless Monroe pass rush to overwealm the paper machine Bobcat offensive line to force the time of possession to favor ULM in order for the offense to keep the Bobcat defense on the field longer than they should be.
This will be a battle of who can outlast each other and who will make the final mistake. Texas State 32 ULM 28.