clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Alabama Football vs. Louisiana Monroe Preview: When the Crimson Tide has the ball

Do the Warhawks have what it takes to cause some problems for Alabama’s offense?

NCAA Football: UL Monroe at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Similarly to their offense, the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks sported one of the absolute worst defenses in the nation back in 2020 before they fired their coach and pulled in Terry Bowden to rebuild the program. They went from allowing 42 points per game in 2020 to only allowing 33 last year to improve to 111th in the country. Through two games this year, they’re at 29.5 points per game.

Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning has been around the NCAA for a couple of decades and has put together a strong resume over the years. He brings a 3-3-5 system to the Warhawks that focuses on smaller, faster hybrid players to make tackles in space and shut down opposing offense’s perimeter games.

Slot cornerback and 4-year starter Jabari Johnson was one of the team’s leading tacklers, and similar to Pete Golding’s scheme, that spot is one of the most important positions to making the defense work, as it requires that position to be able to cover like a corner and tackle like a linebacker.

The rest of the secondary is mostly new to the scene this year. Safeties Tavier Williams and Keydrain Callingan are new starters that bring a good bit of range to the back end, and Kansas transfer Deuce Mayberry is an infusion of talent from a P5 program.

Up front, nose tackle Caleb Thomas returns as a preseason All-Sun Belt player after leading the team with 7.5 tackles for loss in 2021. He’s a little undersized, but an absolute menace to try and block.

At linebacker, JUCO transfer Tristan Driggers was one of the top JUCO safeties last year and has transitioned to a coverage linebacker for the Warhawks. He’s racked up a couple of interceptions and leads the team in tackles through two games.

Overall, while the ULM defense has shown improvements over the past two seasons, they’re still an extremely undersized group. Alabama went into the game against Cincinnati last season with the gameplan of overpowering them up front, and they ran a similar, if significantly more talented, scheme than ULM. It should be a good game for the Tide to get Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams a lot of run.

the small, speedy front 7 could pose some issues on 3rd and long situations, so look for Alabama to try to keep running the ball and shorten the game.

As such, while I do expect a fairly thorough domination, it will probably be a game with minimal possessions. I expect Alabama to score somewhere in the 35-42 point range.