Sun Belt Preview Series: UL Monroe
Welcome to WNSP’s Sun Belt preview series to get you ready for football season! Each day, we will preview a new team in the Sun Belt conference and get you ready for football season. We’ll take a look at what Vegas has their win total set at, make a prediction, and talk about their season outlook. Today’s team: The UL Monroe Warhawks
Players to watch:
Offense: QB Chandler Rogers, WR Boogie Knight
Defense: LB Zack Woodard, LB Quae Drake, DB Jabari Johnson
With a new head coach in Terry Bowden in 2021 and coming off an abysmal 0-10 Covid season in 2020, expectations were extremely low entering last season for the Warhawks. Then, all of the sudden, after surprising wins over Liberty and South Alabama, ULM started out 2021 4-3 with some winnable games still left on the schedule. Unfortunately, they would lose their final five games and finish the season 4-8, failing to become bowl eligible.
But it was still a massive step forward for a team that was winless the year before and entering a new era. Now, in 2022, this is not a team that will compete for a Sun Belt Conference title, but they could look to take another step forward. Quarterback Chandler Rogers returns and should take over as the full-time starter after splitting reps last year. The offensive line returns some but must get better with both lead running backs returning in Andrew Henry and Malik Jackson.
The strength of this team is its wide receiver core. Boogie Knight is a legitimate star in this conference, earning All-Sun Belt status last season. Most of the other targets return as well, along with Kansas State transfer Tyrone Howell, Sr, who adds some real firepower to the group. If the line can be better than it was in 2021 and Rogers can perform decently, this should be at least an okay offense.
The bigger problem last year was the pass defense getting absolutely shredded every week, giving up nearly 300 yards through the air. They lose two starters to the portal in the secondary, but given how the unit performed last season, a hit of the reset button may not be the worst thing for the Warhawks. Jabari Johnson will be huge in trying to anchor this unit and at least get it back to average. The pass rush should improve, which of course helps the secondary if they don’t have to cover their men for as long.
The Warhawks have to play Alabama and Texas, so throw those out, and a few of the games they won last year are now on the road. They will come to Mobile to take on South Alabama week 7 in the middle of October. Doing better than last year’s surprise will be very difficult, I am going to predict the Warhawks to go 4-8 again.