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November 19, 2012
Warhawk Inside Slant
Coach Todd Berry prepared his ULM team all week hoping that junior quarterback Kolton Browning would be ready to play after missing the last game-and-a-half because of a foot injury.
His wish was granted.
With Browning back in the lineup and throwing for 324 yards, the Warhawks rolled past North Texas 42-16 and assured themselves of their best record since moving up to the FBS level.
"Well, I knew he was going to play well," Berry said of Browning, who is the Sun Belt Conference's total offense leader. "He was very focused on doing the things he could do, and he did a nice job of playing within himself. Is there some pain? Sure, but I don't think he was in a lot of pain. It's painful, but winning helps that."
In fact, Browning rated the pain level "about a 3" on a 1-10 scale.
"I felt good out there," he said. "Just getting in the training room, doing rehab to get right and be at full speed. The trainers did a really good job of getting me back out there, and it felt good tonight. The foot didn't even cross my mind, I was going off of instinct, and it didn't even bother me out there."
The victory ended a two-game losing streak and improved the Warhawks to 7-4 on the season. They are 5-2 in the Sun Belt and still can get a share of their first league title if things fall right.
Arkansas State is 6-1, Middle Tennessee 5-1 in league play, and they meet on Dec 1. Middle Tennessee also has a game against dangerous Troy.
What's Ahead: ULM finishes its regular season with a visit to Florida International on Thanksgiving weekend. The Panthers were preseason conference favorites and have won their last two games after losing seven in a row.
• With a 7-4 record, ULM is assured of its first winning season since moving to the FBS level in 1994. At 5-2 in the conference, the Warhawks also have a shot at their first six-win season in the Sun Belt.
• ULM had 518 yards in total offense (161 rushing, 367 passing) against North Texas, the fifth time this season that the Warhawks have hit or topped the 500-yard mark.
• The Warhawks gave up 467 yards to the Mean Green, which is a lot but still an improvement over the previous two games when they yielded 534 to Arkansas State and 607 to Louisiana-Lafayette.
Keep An Eye On: True freshman WR Tony Cook entered the game with only two catches on the season for 11 yards, but he added three receptions for 18 yards in the win over North Texas.
Looking Good: Junior QB Kolton Browning led the air assault against North Texas by going 25-of-34 passing for 324 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked only once and netted 13 yards on eight rushes. He scored on a one-yard run.
Still Needs Work: ULM's pass defense needs work. The Warhawks gave up 323 yards and two touchdowns through the air. They had two interceptions but no sacks.
Quote To Note: "I think we had a plan in place from day one about what we were going to do in our first recruiting meeting. We stuck the course. I thought we had a pretty decent team last year if we had stayed healthy, but I felt really good coming into this season. The idea was to kind of build the program to where next year would be the year with the senior dominated class."-Coach Todd Berry, on delivering the first winning season for ULM since 1993, when the program was on the FCS level.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
• Redshirt freshman RB DeVontae McNeal logged only one carry, but that was all he needed to lead ULM in rushing for the game. He scored on a 54-yard run to complete the scoring against North Texas.
• Senior WR Brent Leonard had eight receptions but missed getting into triple digits in yards, settling for 93.
• Junior WR Je'Ron Hamm hit a career high in receiving yards with 119 on seven catches, one a 61-yard touchdown reception. He also scored on a 24-yard catch.
• Senior LB R.J. Young maintained his team tackle lead with a game-high 18 stops against North Texas. He has an even 80 tackles for the season.
• Sophomore P-PK Justin Manton was 6-of-6 on PATs, booted two of his seven kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks, and punted twice but for only a 30.5 average.