| FTBL Team Capsule; Louisiana-Monroe

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imported_porkchop

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University of Louisiana-Monroe

Nickname: Warhawks
2006 Record: 4-8 (3-4 in Sunbelt Conference)
Head Coach: Charlie Weatherbie (5th year, 15-31 overall)
Key Additions/Losses: (S) Kevin Payne DB, (S) Chaz Williams DB,



Overview

It was a strange season for the Warhawks in 2006 to be sure. How often does a young team lose 8 of their first 9 games (getting drilled for much of the time) not collapse and actually improve towards the end of the season? Not often. Heck, even BAMA fans can attest to the fact that it's hard enough for a veteran team to keep from stumbling and bumbling through a season, much less a team made up primarily of kids. Give Coach Charlie Weatherbie and his kids their due though; they experienced their fare share of growing pains and now that the team is a little older and a little more experienced, things should be taking a turn for the better in 2007.

The good news is that quarterback Kinsmon Lancaster now has a year of experience under his belt and most of his arsenal is back for 2007. The bad news is that the Warhawk defense (which was bad to begin with) got worse in the off-season with the departure of two of its best players.

Success this year might only entail the team finish with a winning record. But if the offense continues to improve and the staff can shore up some defensive deficiencies anything can happen in a wild and whacky Sunbelt Conference.


Offense

The undisputed leader of the ULM offense is dual-threat quarterback Kinsmon Lancaster. Lancaster originally came to Louisiana-Monroe as a wide receiver but Weatherbie and staff quickly realized that Lancaster's diversity and big play potential could best be utilized under center.

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Kinsmon Lancaster/ULMAthletics.com

While it took most of last season for Lancaster to get comfortable with the offense, the first-year starter grew into the role and actually began to put up some very solid numbers by season's end. Lancaster's maturation process can best be seen by analyzing his performances in big games last year. In ULM's fourth game of the season Lancaster faced the Tide defense and threw for a lackluster 73 yards, completing 50% of his attempts, while rushing for 12 yards. Against Kentucky in game 10, he compiled over 200 yards total offense. Against North Texas the next week Lancaster went 12-19 throwing for 193 yards, while in the season finale the sophomore signal-caller amassed almost 300 yards of total offense en route to victory.

With a full year under his belt the junior is primed for a breakout season. It also helps to have the team's leading rusher returning in 2007 as well. Senior tailback Calvin Dawson put together a strong enough season in 2006 to be named to the All-Sunbelt Conference Team as well as the All-Louisiana Team. His 1210 rushing yards led the conference and his 11 scores was tops for the Warhawks.

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Calvin Dawson/ULMathletics.com

Don't make the mistake of assuming that the tailback from Bossier City, Louisiana is a mid-level talent that only puts up numbers against Sunbelt competition either. Three of Dawson's 100-yard performances came against SEC foes, BAMA, Arkansas and Kentucky last year. Against UK, Dawson just went nuts, rushing for almost 180 yards on 26 carries while reaching the end zone on 3 separate occasions.

The receiving corps returns virtually intact, and led by junior LaGregory Sapp (6-3, 205). Sapp stepped right in last season as a sophomore and quickly became one of Lancaster's favorite targets, hauling in 43 receptions. He scored three times with a long of 64 yards.

The team's second-leading receiver is junior tight end Zeek Zacharie. Zacharie is a bit of an interesting story as we're not sure where exactly he'll be lining up at in 2007. While listed as a tight end Zacharie actually plays more of a hybrid position on the offense. He possesses the size to line up beside the tackle but his game has always been a little more finesse than the coaching staff is comfortable with for the position. When ULM rolls into Bryant-Denny we may see Zacharie lining up at H-back or even as a wideout. Regardless of where they put him, he'll catch his share of passes. As a sophomore he hauled in 30 passes and scored twice. With the added experience he's likely to top those numbers this year.


Defense

Losing both Kevin Payne and Chaz Williams from the defensive backfield is likely to hurt, but the real issues for the Warhawks defense has been a porous run defense coupled with a lack of a pass rush. If the coaches can't find a way to atleast address the pass rush then it really doesn't matter who is in the secondary.

The one player on the defensive line that might be able to help with the dismal pass rush is defensive end Alaric Coleman. Coleman is a pure pass rusher who gained valuable experience last year as a freshman, appearing in all 12 games as a reserve. He'll be counted on to step up and produce in 2007. Jameson Jordon is the other defensive end, and like Coleman, will have to outproduce his mediocre 2006 numbers for the defense to have any hope of stopping an offense outside of the Sunbelt Conference. Jordon finished 2006 tallying only 25 combined tackles and no sacks.

The inside of the defensive line will be manned by a pair of JUCO transfers in Kendall Mouton and David Cooper. One will start, though neither has really done much to earn the job. While both players saw action in all 12 contests last year they could only manage 30 tackles and 1 sack between them. Did I mention that the production along the front has to increase in 2007?

The team's most experienced linebacker is Cardia Jackson. As a freshman Jackson racked up almost 60 tackles, though only 2.5 of them went for a loss of yardage. Jackson will have to bump up his game this season and start producing more big plays for the defense.

If a history of going with young players is any indication then Alvin Jordan will be lining up alongside Jackson at linebacker. Jordan is a 6-2, 225-pound true freshman signed out of Mesquite, Texas and one of the stars of the Warhawk 2007 recruiting class. If Jordan can win the job then expect junior Jeremy Moll to fill the slot. Moll made only 19 tackles last season but was limited by injury.

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Josh Thompson/ULMathletics.com

Junior Josh Thompson is by far the team's best defensive player, and is considered by CollegeFootballNews.com as the team's best NFL prospect. As a sophomore Thompson finished second on the team with 83 tackles. His 6 interceptions not only led the team but also the Sunbelt Conference. In his two seasons at ULM Thompson has totalled 133 tackles and 8 interceptions and Warhawk coaches and fans can expect more of the same.

The corners are solid with Quintez Secka and Darrius Battles. Secka is one of the best in the conference and possesses the overall size and skills to possibly play on Sundays in the future.


Specialists

Scott Love will be taking over the punting duties for Kevin Payne (drafted by Chicago). He has a good leg, but he hasn't played that much. Consistency might be an issue for the new starter. Senior kicker Cole Wilson is as automatic as it gets from inside the 50 yard line. He connected on 14 of 15 attempts last year, only missing the one from beyond 50.

The team's primary kick return man is also the team's leading rusher in Dawson. In 2006 he averaged a respectable 22.3 yards per return on 12 attempts. Wide receiver Darrell McNeal will line up beside Dawson deep, as well as function as the punt returner. McNeal averaged 5 yards per return last season, while also finishing third on the team in receptions with 25.
 
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imported_RollTideRandy

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ULM led Tulsa 17-14 at the half last night, but fell 35-17 being shut-out in the 2nd half. Running back Calvin Dawson rushed for 154 and QB Kinsmon Lancaster had a terrible night throwing for only 66 yards.
 
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