Photo by Gerald Castillo
Countdown to Kickoff: ULM's offense poised for more success in 2018
Editor's Note: Continuing through Aug. 26, Texas State beat writer Nick Castillo will provide opponent previews for each of the 12 teams on the Bobcats' 2018 football slate.
Louisiana-Monroe comes into the 2018 campaign looking to improve off two straight 4-8 seasons.
ULM had a strong season on offense in 2017, but its defense struggled mightily. The Warhawks will need their defense to make strides this season, if they want to compete for the Sun Belt West Division title. ULM was selected to finish second in the West behind division and conference favorite Arkansas State in the Sun Belt preseason coaches’ poll.
Offensively, the Warhawks have a plethora of talent returning.
ULM has its quarterback returning in dual-threat, signal-caller Caleb Evans, who threw for 2,878 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, while running for 573 yards and 13 touchdowns. The sophomore quarterback from Mansfield will be key in the Warhawks’ attempt to replicate 2017’s offensive success.
ULM also has its leading rusher, senior Derrick Gore, returning. Gore rushed for 585 yards and six touchdowns in 2017.
Evans will have multiple targets to throw the ball to, but none more important than junior wide receiver Marcus Green. The Pontotoc, Miss. native has been named to the 2018 Biletnikoff Award watch list for the country’s best wide receiver after a stellar sophomore campaign. Green hauled in 54 passes for 812 yards and five touchdowns in 2017. The Warhawks will also have sophomore RJ Turner to toss the ball to this season. Turner caught 38 passes for 693 yards and six touchdowns last year.
ULM’s offense shouldn’t take a step back in 2018. The Warhawks look to build off a 2017 season, where they averaged 33.9 points per game, which ranked second in the Sun Belt.
ULM’s defense, however, ranked as the worst defense in the conference last year. The Warhawks gave up a league-worst 41 points per game, and 532.1 yards per game in 2017.
ULM has nowhere to go but up after a bad defensive year last season.
The Warhawks have linebackers David Griffith, Chase Day and Cortez Sisco back for the upcoming campaign. Griffith tallied 76 total tackles, Day amassed 47 tackles and Sisco recorded 45 tackles in 2017.
In the secondary, ULM will rely upon safeties Luke Hedrick, Nick Ingram and Collin Turner, and cornerbacks Marcus Hubbard and Rhoy Williams. All three safeties missed significant time last year. Williams notched 38 tackles in 2017, while Hubbard had 26 tackles.
If ULM wants to see a better record this year, the Warhawks will need their defense to take a step forward.
ESPN’s Football Power Index predicts ULM to improve in 2018 with a projected 7-5 record.
The Warhawks begin the season against Southeastern Louisiana followed by road trips to Southern Mississippi and Texas A&M. ULM begins Sun Belt play at home against Troy and then travels to Georgia State. The Warhawks take a break from conference play to take on Ole Miss. ULM visits Coastal Carolina before hosting Texas State.
The Warhawks and Bobcats meet in Monroe, La. on Oct. 20 at JPS Field at Malone Stadium.