A short week for both the Hilltoppers and Warhawks as they collide under the Louisiana night in a Thursday primetime game on ESPNU. I caught up with Dusty Thibodeaux of WarhawkReport.com to check in on the Warhawks, get his thoughts on the game and what fans should expect from our biggest rival in the Sun Belt Conference.
InsideHilltopperSports.com: Obviously, the team suffered a key injury to Kolton Browning last weekend against Tulane, what can you tell us about your quarterback options going forward?
Thibodeaux: Brayle Brown will be the starter, with true freshman Brian Williams getting some snaps starting in the WKU game. Brown is more of a pocket QB, while Williams is an athlete that can do a bit of everything. I'm interested to see just how the playbook is adjusted for these new QBs. Both were Todd Berry recruits so they should fit his system, but neither are at the same level that Kolton Browning was.
InsideHilltopperSports.com: With Browning out, how important will it be for ULM to rely on veterans like Jyruss Edwards and playmakers like Rashon Ceasar and Tavarese Maye?
Thibodeaux: I think they are part of it, but really a full team effort will be needed for a chance at a win. Over the past two weeks, this team has not had the mental game going and it's showed. A key component that will need to have a good return is Je'Ron Hamm. The big receiving senior was out for all of the Tulane game and injured early on in the Baylor game. His return is key for the offense to click.
InsideHilltopperSports.com: ULM has played some tough competition, what has the team learned about themselves playing tough road games at Oklahoma, Wake Forest, and Baylor?
Thibodeaux: I'm not real sure that ULM has played as ULM yet. At Oklahoma, Browning was hampered with an injury that didn't allow him to do what he does best. Wake Forest was a series of adjustments as the Demon Deacons came out with new looks on both sides of the ball, showing the team can adjust, but not that they can execute what was prepped during the week. Baylor to me is the fastest team I've ever seen. I don't see a Big 12 team stopping them, let alone a Sun Belt team. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from that game though was that this team plays every down start to finish without giving up.
InsideHilltopperSports.com: Tell me about ULM defensively so far this year? What will it take for them to stop Antonio Andrews on Thursday night?
Thibodeaux: The defensive front has continued to look good, let by Gerrand Johnson. Linebackers have likewise been solid with the return of fifth year senior Cam Blakes. The Warhawk secondary though has been suspect outside the play of Lenzy Pipkins and Isiah Newsome. As for containing Andrews, I think a linebacker spy is the only way to slow him down. This game plan though would open short passes to the offense. I see this being a cat and mouse game between Berry and Petrino throughout the game.
Much respect to Dusty Thibodeaux and the fine folks at WarhawkReport.com for the content.