Game Preview: Team travels to Iowa State

Miles Jordan, [email protected]

Coming off the near upset victory at Florida State, ULM has an opportunity to complete the upset this time as next they travel to Ames, Iowa to face-off against Iowa State.

Iowa State began the year ranked number 21 overall and won their first game in overtime against Missouri Valley opponent, Northern Iowa, 29-26.

The Cyclones would have a bye in week two before facing off against rival number 19 Iowa and lose 18-17.

Iowa State is the most pass heavy team the Warhawks have played thus far.

Their number one playmaker and the player the Warhawks must stop is senior wide receiver Deshaunte Jones.

Early on Jones seems to be quarterback Brock Purdy’s favorite target as through two games, Jones has 18 catches for 157 yards through two games, Jones has shown he can have a big game as against NUI he had 14 catches for 126.

Defensively, the Cyclones are led by a trio of linebackers, redshirt senior Marcel Spears Jr., sophomore Mike Rose and redshirt sophomore O’Rein Vance.

The trio lives in opponents’ backfields and will be a force to be reckoned with if ULM cannot block them. Between the three of them, there are eight tackles for loss and four sacks.

Much like against the Seminoles if the Warhawks want to beat Iowa State they will have to do three things well: the Warhawks must run the ball, protect the ball and continue to force turnovers.

ULM’s early season success and near upset against Florida State started with a balanced offense. Through two games, the Warhawks are averaging 246.5 rushing yards per game versus 213.5 passing yards.

The running game has been led by redshirt junior Josh Johnson, who through two weeks is fifth in the country in rushing yards with 299.

The Cyclones’ run defense has been stout thus far allowing only 169 rushing yards over two games.

The running game will be even more paramount versus a road opponent like Iowa State because the longer the Warhawks can keep the ball out of Iowa State’s hands and the longer the crowd is out of it the better ULM will do.

If the Warhawks can run on Iowa State, it can open up the passing game for senior quarterback Caleb Evans.

As with any game but especially road games, ULM must protect the ball. Through two games, the Warhawks have done an outstanding job of holding onto the football with only two turnovers through the two games.

As long as the Warhawks do not shoot themselves in the foot, turnovers should not be a problem as the Cyclones have yet to force a turnover through two games.

If the Warhawks can possess the ball and not turn it over, the time of possession should stay in ULM’s favor.

Offensively the final responsibility for the Warhawk offense is starting faster. What doomed ULM against FSU was not a missed extra point but a slow starting offense. Caleb Evans even recognized this after the game against FSU noting how ULM can not go down 21-0.

Furthermore, the Warhawks can not afford to go down 24-7 again like against the Seminoles. The faster ULM can start the more pressure is immediately put onto the Cyclones.

Beyond stopping the Cyclones’ passing attack, the Warhawks must continue to force turnovers.

Iowa State does not turn it over excessively as Purdy has yet to throw an interception but the team as a whole has three fumbles on the season.

If the Warhawks can continue their forced turnover rate of two per game, ULM can win.

Through two games, the Warhawks have struggled in one area and that is pressuring the quarterback.

In the first two games, ULM only has two sacks both coming from fifth-year senior Donald Louis Jr. The Warhawks should get a spark next game as sack leader, Kerry Starks will be returning from suspension.

Iowa State has done a good job thus far only allowing three sacks on the year. Getting after the quarterback will help the Warhawks as it can get the Cyclones into long down and distances and may make Purdy make mistakes leading to more turnovers.

The formula for an upset is there for the Warhawks just as it was against the Seminoles, if ULM can have start faster and repeat what they did versus Florida State, the Warhawks will leave Aimes, Iowa with one more win.