Dusty Thibodeaux (Twitter) is a 1997 graduate of Auburn High School who moved to Monroe, La. to attend then Northeast Louisiana University in hopes of continuing his basketball career. Although that didn’t pan out, he continued with his education, graduating from now ULM in 2002 and 2006. In addition to working as publisher for WarhawkReport.com, a member of the Rivals.com network, he works as a network engineer for a Fortune 500 company.
1. What are the Warhawks’ major concerns for this game and the rest of the season?
I think the big concerns for ULM is just escaping Auburn with no injuries and a good showing that they can move the ball. Sure it would be nice to leave Jordan-Hare with a W, but the youth of the Warhawks has shown this season that they still have some maturity, physically and experience wise, before they can pull out a major upset.
2. Who are two players that the Tigers should look out for and why?
With out a doubt the number one threat is receiver Luther Ambrose. Ambrose placed third in the NCAA 100m championships earlier this year. His speed at the kick return position always makes him a threat to break a long return.
Also exciting to watch is red-shirt freshman Kolton Browning. Browning has already put up some impressive numbers behind a young, suspect offensive line. His back-to-back games of being the team’s leading rusher makes him another big play threat for the Warhawks.
3. Where do you expect these two teams to struggle/excel against each other?
I seems that the kicking game has been a week area for both teams this season. Wes Byrum has recently struggled in his place kicking duties, after a solid career entering this season.
Likewise, ULM’s kicker Radi Jabour has seen two of his PATs blocked, and missed his only FG attempt.
4. What do you think is the best and worst case scenarios for the Warhawks this Saturday?
Best case scenario – A win by the Warhawks that rivals the 2007 upset of Alabama.
Worst case scenario – Auburn holds the distinction of having beaten ULM by the largest margin with a 73-7 decision in 2003. Hopefully there is not a repeat or a new record set.
5. Where do you see Monroe ending up this season?
This season is definitely a rebuilding year for the Warhawks. ULM has several problems this season, headlined by their lack of experienced depth, most notably on the offensive line where just five scholarship players are on the roster. Throw into the mix of problems a red-shirt quarterback and a new offensive scheme and coaches, and the Warhawks are likely set for a sub .500 record. My preseason prediction was 5-7, and I believe the Warhawks can still get to this mark despite the cards being stacked against them, and knowing that a winning record and a post season bowl birth is right around the corner.
6. Where do you see the Tigers ending up this season?
Since Auburn is my team from the SEC, I would like to think that 2010 is the season that they can finally get over the hump and have a 2004 season again, only earning a birth in the national championship game. However, I believe that the SEC is so strong this season that making it through the remaining portion of their schedule will be difficult and that even the teams in Atlanta will have at least one loss is not more, I don’t see the Tigers playing for a national title, but the BCS is well within reach.
7. Lastly, what has the win over Alabama done for the program?
Everyone seems to know ULM and the Warhawks now, if nothing else for that game. It was a great win for the program, probably the biggest since the 1987 I-AA National Championship game, but something that many of the current players have no experience from and are hungry to have their own upset experience.