A big thanks to Dusty Thibodeaux of Warhawk Report for taking the time to answer some of my questions about Louisiana-Monroe’s football team. Sure, it’s likely to be a blowout, but it’s still good to learn about the opponent as much as possible ahead of time.
After a winless season in 2020, ULM ousted coach Matt Viator and went out to hire a name that Bama fans might be familiar with: Terry Bowden. An Auburn coach back in the 90s, Bowden definitely has some experience with beating Alabama. What can you tell us about the general fan attitude towards him in his second year as he attempts to rebuild from the Viator years?
The fans know this is a process and not a quick fix. The program hit rock bottom in 2020 with Covid and a team that quit mid-season due to a variety of reasons. Bowden is having to really start anew at ULM and fans know it will take some time, but 2021 was a tease. The over/under on the season was 2 wins, and the Warhawks picked up 4, with 3 losses coming by a score or less…..ULM was that close to a potential 7-5 season and trip to their second ever bowl game.
QB Chandler Rogers returns as the team’s leading passer and rusher from 2021, and he seems to be off to a hot start, hitting 77% of his passes. How would you describe his game?
Smart player and really had to show his athleticism due to a young offensive line. Against Texas, the speed faced by the defensive line and the secondary really gave the offense fits, and the game plan against Nicholls last week was all about running the ball. Maybe this week we get to see a glimpse of what the ULM offense can do, but likely another week before ULM can show that it can effectively move the ball.
Are there any specific skill position guys on offense you’d like to point out as someone who might make a big play this weekend?
As Alabama fans know, special teams and especially kickers are huge difference makers in games. Calumn Sutherland is clutch and been the best offensive weapon for ULM over the past two years. Additionally, how can you go wrong with the best named player in all of college football Boogie Knight at kick returner. He really hasn’t put up the big numbers you would like to see from a big name and personality but he’s gained attention over the past two years, often facing double or even triple teams when at the WR postion.
DC Vic Koenning is a guy that’s been all around the NCAA for many, many years and has a fairly strong resume as a defensive coordinator. What kind of scheme can we expect to see? And what player (or two or three) are the straw that stirs the drink for this defense?
Warhawks setup in a 3-3-5, but really the linebackers are more like a hybrid DB/safety type of player. Caleb Thomas anchors the defensive front. Linebacker Tristan Driggers has 2 interceptions on the season, including a key pick in the opener at Texas.
How do you predict ULM will do this season? And will that be enough to meet fan expectations?
As for expectations, it really about being competitive at this point in the rebuild process. I would like to see the Warhawks in the upper part of the Sun Belt Conference, but may be too much to ask this year. I think the Warhawks can take on a spoiler role and plant the seed of success in the coming seasons based on this year.
Finally, I KNOW the Warhawks fanbase has to hold some sort of internal glee over being the team that handed Alabama their worst defeat of the Saban era. Is that something that’s still coming up this week?
Not really thing discussed this week, but something that does come up often; for better or worse. I still don’t know why fans focus on that game against a 6-6 Alabama team that was 15 years ago, versus the win at Arkansas that was ranked top 10 at the time. I think the bigger takeaway from that 2007 team was their ability to rattle off wins in the final three games of the season to end 6-6 on the year.