ULM will be in conference championship


Year three of head football coach Matt Viator’s tenure at ULM was the most successful yet. The Warhawks finished third in the West division of the Sun Belt Conference with a 4-4 conference record. ULM became bowl eligible for the first time under coach Viator as well as finishing 6-6 overall, but was left out of a bowl game.

The Warhawks were in the conference championship conversation throughout the whole season before back-to-back conference losses to Arkansas State and ULL put the Warhawks from first to third. This year, though, the Warhawks will win the West division and will be in the Sun Belt Conference Championship.

The Warhawks schedule creates a possible scenario like ULL last year, where the Ragin’ Cajuns finished 7-7 overall but 5-3 in conference play. Admittedly, the Warhawks will have to have strong conference play with two difficult non-conference road games versus Florida State and Iowa State.

The rest of the non-conference play is a tad bit easier with an opening weekend home game versus Grambling and Memphis.

What matters for the Warhawks is the conference play. The first two conference games may make or break the season with back-to-back road games against Texas State and conference champion Appalachian State.

Beyond the conference play, the play of senior quarterback Caleb Evans and the defense matter most. Evans is expected to put on a show after two straight solid campaigns. The defense is the ultimate wild card. If the defense can jump from middle of the pack last year to fourth or fifth, the Warhawks could be scary.

The one big question mark on the defensive side of the ball is will Kerry Starks be on the team?

With Starks, the Warhawks can potentially dominate other offensive lines. However, without Starks, the defense will have to take the “next man up approach” to match his success.

The Warhawks are coming off a solid season and a season just missing out on the goal of a conference championship and bowl game. This season will change that.