Season opener versus Kentucky

The countdown is on. The stage is set. On Sept. 4, Kroger Field at the University of Kentucky the most exciting offseason in ULM history leads into the regular season. 

No doubt it will be a rough start. Not only is Kentucky an SEC team coming off of a bowl victory, it is the first time their stadium will be at full capacity in over a year. Across the nation, home field advantage will be back in full force.

Like ULM, Kentucky has had some soul searching for a quarterback. The Wildcats were dead last in the SEC in passing yards and had the least efficient passing game. Their starting QB from last season, Terry Wilson, entered the transfer portal and landed in New Mexico. 

Kentucky’s offensive line was a game changer in 2020. They kept the quarterback safe and were excellent run blockers. There’s no reason that trend shouldn’t continue against a Warhawks unit that struggled at getting in the backfield.

Kentucky’s linebackers were the backbone of the defense last year but now they are a skeleton crew. 

If the way to stand toe-to-toe with the Wildcats is to keep their defense winded, this coaching staff is built for that. Offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez became famous for his high-octane offenses. His son, Rhett Rodriguez, is likely the starting quarterback. He has been in his father’s system for as long as he has known football.

Some would say the thought of taking down Kentucky on opening weekend with a brand-new staff and an overhauled roster is lunacy. But so was ULM beating Nick Saban’s Alabama in 2007. 

Points will be at a premium for the Warhawks. If by some chance Kentucky makes a mistake, ULM has to capitalize on it. Kicker Calum Sutherland will have to be a step up from the abysmal kicking he arrived to replace. 

The chance of victory rides on defensive coordinator Zac Alley’s unit. Last season ULM had some of the worst third down defense in the nation. If Kentucky’s offense starts slow, they can’t be allowed to bail themselves out on third down. Thankfully for Alley, his side of the ball has veterans.

Kentucky may seem invincible, but one drive can change everything.