by: Alex Welch
The Louisiana (UL-Lafayette) Ragin Cajuns will head north on Saturday for a 4:00 p.m. ET showdown with the University of Louisiana at Monroe Warhawks. CSS will provide the coverage, with Tom Dore and Deuce McAllister providing commentary from the booth.
ULM heads into the weekend riding a five-game win streak after defeating South Alabama 38-24 to remain a perfect 4-0 in conference play. The Warhawks hold a one-game lead over Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State with four games left on their schedule.
Louisiana sits at 2-2 in Sun Belt action and 4-3 overall this season. After dropping their last two games to North Texas and Arkansas State, the Ragin Cajuns are looking to find some consistency in this up and down year.
Saturday marks the 48th installment of the Battle on the Bayou, with UL leading by a slim margin of 24-23 all-time. The Ragin Cajuns took down the Warhawks by a single point in each of the last two victories. With the regular season nearing the end of the line, let's take a look at what you should watch for when these two teams square off on Saturday.
1) After quarterback Blaine Gautier broke two bones in his throwing hand on Sept. 29, sophomore Terrance Broadway took control of the reigns on offense. Last week he set several career-highs with 374 yards, three touchdowns and 28 completions. He did manage to throw three interceptions as well against Arkansas State, so limiting turnovers will be a key this time around.
2) Darryl Surgent caught a career-high five passes for 107 yards last week, adding two touchdowns on the day. Jamal Robinson stepped up as well to post his first career 100-yard game, catching five passes for 105 yards. Harry Peoples and Javone Lawson were sidelined with injuries, but the passing game kept going strong.
3) The run game for the Ragin Cajuns was a huge letdown last week, only gaining 76 yards on 23 carries. UL averages 162 yards on the ground per game. Opponents only gain 114.5 rush yards each week against ULM, so this will be another tough test for the Cajuns.
4) UL allows 437 yards per game on defense, 289.14 of those through the air. The Warhawks bring a potent passing attack to the table, and they will surely be throwing often against the Cajuns. Last week UL held Ryan Aplin to 269 yards and one touchdown. A similar outing will be needed to take down ULM.
5) As far as turnovers go, which Warhawks team will show up? In four wins this season they've caused 12 turnovers while only committing four of their own. In the three losses, UL only forced one turnover and gave the ball away eight times. The turnover battle is always crucial, but it's particularly important when the Ragin Cajuns are facing the toughest opponent in their conference.
6) It's no secret the Warhawks have been successful in large part due to their dominant offense. After averaging 464.9 total yards per game, they rank 22nd overall in the entire nation. Their 39.3 points per game also have them in the top 20 in this category, making for quite the impressive resume in 2012.
7) Kolton Browning has thrown for 2,164 yards, 22 touchdowns and just six interceptions through eight games. He's tied for sixth in the country in passing scores, and enters Saturday with eight touchdowns in his past two outings. Averaging 285.9 yards and nearly 39 pass attempts per game. Prepare to watch him put the ball in the air often against UL.
8) The passing attack isn't the only threat for the Warhawks. Their ground game averages 179 yards and a little over two touchdowns per week. Jyruss Edwards leads the team with 99 carries for 438 yards and six scores, but you'll see plenty of Browning using his legs as well. The junior quarterback has rushed for 402 yards on 95 carries, adding another five touchdowns on the ground.
9) ULM isn't a team you can ease up on, regardless of how much time is left. The Warhawks have now trailed 28-7 twice this year, only to come back and defeat Arkansas and Western Kentucky in overtime. Head coach Todd Berry knows how to rally his troops when the time is right.
10) While the offense is constantly praised, the Warhawks defense isn't anything to scoff at. ULM's run defense ranks 21st in the nation. Opponents only average 3.5 yards per carry against this squad. Overall the Warhawks rank 43rd in total defense.
by: Alex Welch