Arkansas State Red Wolves Versus ULM Warhawks: Loser Loses The West
Saturday’s game in Monroe is Do or Doo-Doo
The ULM Warhawks are renown for 1) beating Alabama, 2) beating Arkansas, and 3) operating on the smallest athletics budget in all of FBS football. Even Youngstown State spends more cheese than the Warhawks. Yet head coach Matt Viator continues to field an interesting (and sometimes challenging) football team – one that just recently lost an overtime nut-breaker to Florida State.
Since that Moral Victory in Week 2, the Warhawks have been on the butt end of some pretty brutal beatings: 72-20 to Iowa State, 52-33 to Memphis, and 52-7 to Appalachian State. Yes, these are all AP Top 25 teams, but the losses are evidence that the Warhawks are still seeking a defense that can give the Caleb Evans-led offense a chance to win.
Meanwhile, Arkansas State is 1) coming off a blowout win over Texas State, 2) recouping from the loss of one of the heroes of that win – cornerback Nathan Page, recently kicked off the team indefinitely after being arrested on domestic abuse charges. Every game for the Red Wolves results in a horrible team sacrifice. One wonders who is behind the voodoo? (Stares for an uncomfortably long time at Matt Viator.)
This Game Matters More
In conference play, Red Wolves are 2-2. Warhawks are 2-1. Both teams have Louisiana (2-1) to push out of the top spot in the West. The Cajuns have already unceremoniously dispatched the Red Wolves, and they host the Warhawks on the final regular season game of the season. The Cajuns are piloting the blimp, and everybody else is tossing Yard Jarts.
The Red Wolves need this game more than the Warhawks. Three losses in conference is the Death Punch of Death. But this is no gimme for ULM either. Viator’s Bros get Arkansas State, Georgia State and Georgia Southern before meeting the Cajuns in the finale. The Sun Belt should go to prison for doing that to ULM.
You Can Run on the Warhawks
True, you can run on the Red Wolves, too, but you can really run on ULM, whose under-sized defensive line gives up 240 yards on the ground every contest. This is good news for Arkansas State, who has found some momentum with a newly healthy Marcel Murray (278 yards, 2 TDs the last two games). Signal caller Layne Hatcher and wide receiver Omar Bayless will get all the attention, but it will be Murray and the offensive lines that eat on Saturday
Red Wolves Have Won 9 Straight Against ULM
You can either look at this as “the Warhawks are due” or “same old-same old.” Caleb Evans is a notch-better-than-solid QB who can beat you with his arms (1.400 yards) and with his legs (5 rushing TDs) and running back Josh Johnson ranks third in conference for rushing (789 yards). They have offensive juice. But so do the Red Wolves, and that Warhawk’s defense gives up 492 yards per game! (Oh…Red Wolves give up 492.3…) Anyway, Warhawks have lost this game for nearly a decade.
Is Bonner Ready for a Comeback?
In the home opener against (undefeated) SMU, starting QB Logan Bonner busted his thumb, and it only got worse as the season progressed. Eventually, he called it a season, handing over the playbook to red shirt freshman Layne Hatcher. Looks like Bonner is throwing the pill again:
Bonner is “out for the season,” but this footage suggests he’s on schedule to make a comeback in 2020.
Some Words About Appalachian State’s Loss to Georgia Southern
On Thursday, Appalachian State’s attempt to defend its #20 ranking (highest in Sun Belt history) cratered when Georgia Southern handed the Mountaineers its second conference loss in two years – also to Georgia Southern. The result? Shade:
Tee-hee! But what’s good for the Eagles is crushing for the Sun Belt, who was enjoying some national spotlight. Now the conference is spiraling back into the obscurity zone – unless the Mountaineers can deliver a decisive win against South Carolina.
Every time it appears that the Red Wolves are set for an entertaining battle of offense, I’m surprised with a defensive struggle. Not this time, damnit! Look for both teams to rack up incredible amounts of yards on the ground, with a few Hatcher-to-Bayless bombs to decide the game for the Red Wolves.
Arkansas State Red Wolves @ ULM Warhawks, Saturday, 2:30PM on ESPNU
A former notary public, Jeremy Harper is a professional writer and Chief Instigator for Storm the Castle Creative. He spends much of his free time staring blankly into space.