#77 Louisiana-Monroe Football 2013 Preview

Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks

Overall Rank: #77
#2 Sun Belt

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The 2012 season was a breakthrough in multiple ways for the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. The Warhawks started Arkansas’ downward spiral with a week one road victory in a dramatic 34-31 thriller. In addition, thanks to a prolific passing game, the Warhawks secured their first ever bowl bid in program history with a trip to Shreveport and the Independence Bowl. This fall, veteran signal caller Kolton Browning returns to what should be another dynamic offense that will give the defense time to grow and mature.

2012 Record: (8-5, 6-2)
2012 Bowl: Independence Bowl vs. Ohio (L 14-45)
Coach: Todd Berry (17-20 at Louisiana-Monroe, 46-80 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Steve Farmer
Defensive Coordinator: Troy Reffett

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kolton Browning, QB, 488 yards
Passing: Kolton Browning, QB, 3,049 yards
Receiving: Je’Ron Hamm, WR, 915 yards
Tackles: Cordero Smith, S, 71
Sacks: Ray Stovall, LB, 3.0
Interceptions: Isaiah Newsome, S, 4

Other Key Returnees: WR Tavarese Maye, NT Kentarius Caldwell, C Josh Allen, LB Cameron Blakes, S Mitch Lane RB Jyruss Edwards, WR Tavarese Maye, OL Jon Fisher, C Josh Allen, DE Joey Gautney, CB Rob’Donovan Lewis, CB Vincent Eddie, S Mitch Lane, LB Cameron Blakes

Key Losses: WR Brent Leonard, LB R.J. Young, LB DaCorris Ford, S Henry Mitchell

The ability to throw the football at a high level put the Warhawks in position to win in most of last season’s contests. With four starters returning on the offensive line, it will be very interesting to see if Louisiana-Monroe can incorporate a little more balance with the running game led by JyRuss Edward. If Edwards can run for even 800 or 900 yards then the offense will really be dangerous. The experience on both sides of the ball is another huge strength. Having a veteran quarterback in Browning and seven starters back on defense is going to be very important in helping the Warhawks get through tough conference road games at Troy and Louisiana.

The Warhawks struggled a great deal in the secondary in 2012. They had a great chance to knock off Baylor early in the season but the Bears and Nick Florence were just too much in the passing game in the end to keep the Warhawks from pulling the upset. The inability to generate enough pass rush was problematic as the Warhawks only had 24 sacks in 2012. That has to increase in order for Louisiana-Monroe to win the Sun Belt Conference Championship outright. The kicking game is also a concern as last year the Warhawks did attempt just nine field goals and had three of those blocked. They need a big year from kicker Justin Manton as there will be times in close games where they will only need a field goal and can’t afford to give away points.

The Bottom Line:
The non-conference slate is jam packed with tough tests starting in Norman at Oklahoma on August 31st. Trips to Wake Forest and Baylor are on the docket as well and, while not easy if the Warhawks can’t be efficient offensively, they should be able to compete with both of those teams and have a chance to pull upsets. If this team can stay healthy in 2013 and take care of business at home against the likes of Arkansas State, the game on November 30th at Louisiana could very well be for the Sun Belt Conference Championship. Look for a second consecutive bowl bid for Louisiana-Monroe in 2013 as the team continues to grow under veteran head coach Todd Berry.

Projected Bowl:  GoDaddy.com Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 142.08 (85th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 290.69 (27, 2)
Total Offense: 432.77 (42, 4)
Scoring Offense: 33.85 (32, 3)
Rushing Defense: 142.23 (39, 3)
Pass Defense: 276.54 (108, 8)
Total Defense: 418.77 (78, 6)
Scoring Defense: 29.15 (72, 6)
Turnover Margin: 0.54 (33, 3)
Sacks: 1.69 (78, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 2.08 (71, 7)


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