ULM Warhawks (3-3, 3-1) @ South Alabama Jaguars (2-4, 1-1)
Time: October 21, 4:00 CT
Where: Ladd-Pebbles Stadium, Mobile, AL
Betting Line: USA -4.5
Series: ULM 2-1 (’16 ULM 42-35)
It is Homecoming in Mobile, Alabama as the ULM Warhawks come to town to face the South Alabama Jaguars. ULM is trying to shake off last week’s 47-37 loss to Georgia State. The game wasn’t even as close as the final score suggests. ULM was down 26-10 at half and 47-20 in the 3rd.
It wasn’t until starting QB Caleb Evans was benched in favor of Garrett Smith, that ULM was able to turn it around. Smith came in and led a furious rally. Leading the Warhawks to four TD drives, passing for 225 yards on 14/23 and 3 TD passes, including an 80 yarder to Marcus Green.
This game is vital for the Warhawks. They have to prove that the 3-0 start in the conference was not a fluke. Their offense is electric, 18th in the country in PPG at 39.2 per contest. Conversely, their defense is one of the worst in the nation (119th in PPG).
OLs Frank Sutton, Devin Jackson, and Eastwood Thomas are banged up but expect to play. ULM might get WR Markis McCray this week, which will help out.
ULM insists that there is not a QB controversy in Monroe. Despite a bad game vs. Georgia State, Evans remains the starter for now. Garrett Smith is waiting in the wings. If Evans comes out of the gate slow against USA, Matt Viator could make the switch again. Something to watch.
For South Alabama, it begins and ends with their leading rusher Xavier “X-Man” Johnson. Unfortunately, he sprained his ankle vs. Troy and is listed as questionable for Saturday. If he can’t go, it is going to be hard for the Jaguars to create offense.
Joey Jones and the Jaguars have to prove that last weeks win over rival Troy was not an aberration, but rather a turning point. Their backs are up against the wall.
Dallas Davis and Cole Garvin have shared QB duty for the Jaguars up until this point. Neither has been all that impressive. Jaguars are 104th in PPG at the moment. Whoever gets tabbed as the starter (I assume Davis) will have to put points on the board. He’ll need help from WRs Jamarius Way and Sam Harris.
Last week, USA was gifted four turnovers from a flat Troy team. South Alabama’s defense will need to put together an even better performance Saturday to get past the Warhawks. Jeremy Reaves, Finesse Middleton, and Tyree Turner are three USA defenders that ULM will have fits with.
I expect a hard fought #FunBelt game. But for ULM to bounce back. Matt Viator has that program going in the right direction. South Alabama looks like your typical Joey Jones type team. The floundering offense, okay defense, play to the level of their competition, but unable to make a breakthrough.
35 – 20 ULM