“Prime Time” home opener

ULM hosts Deion Sanders’ Jackson State

Cameron Jett, [email protected]

The Warhawks faced baptism by fire in week one against Kentucky. After a week off to study film from their matchup against one of the premier teams in the SEC, head coach Terry Bowden can get his team ready for Jackson State. 

Saturday’s 6 p.m. matchup in Malone Stadium is the first ever meeting between these two programs.

Jackson State is led by NFL hall-of-famer Deion Sanders. The legendary defensive-back-turned-coach has led his team to a 2-0 start. After a defensive showcase earned his Tigers a 7-6 win against Florida A&M, his offense showed out versus Tennessee State in a 38-16 win. 

In contrast to the flashy image of Sanders is Bowden. Hidden behind the appearance of a coach of years gone by is a man who embraces the opportunity to innovate. Bowden took years away from the game to learn before returning as an assistant to Clemson and their national champion head coach Dabo Swinney.

Sanders has the not so unfamilar task of coaching his sons. One son, Shedeur Sanders is the freshman quarterback and the highest ranked recruit in school history. He has four total touchdowns through his first two games along with 583 passing yards. His other son, Shilo Sanders is a sophomore safety. 

The Warhawks look to match with their own father-son duo of offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez and quarterback Rhett Rodriguez. Rhett Rodriguez has a limited body of work but has soundly earned the trust of his teammates, his father and Bowden. 

Bowden made note of the team’s need for offensive playmakers. After being held to less than 100 yards of offense, it’s an obvious call. 

The Warhawks might already have their answer in wide receiver Boogie Knight. Knight led the Warhawks in receiving yards against Kentucky and he has earned praise from his coaches and teammates all throughout the offseason. 

A player to watch is Tigers linebacker James Houston. Houston leads his team with 5.5 sacks through their first two contests. 

The Warhawks offensive linemen were pushed to their limits with their run game eliminated. They gave up six sacks. 

Conversely, ULM found their way to the quarterback against Kentucky. Even against one of the SEC’s most respected offensive line, ULM still brought the quarterback down four times.

Despite playing just one game, ULM has more turnovers than the Tigers. ULM forced an interception on the opening drive against Kentucky and later  recovered two fumbles. The Tigers have two fumbles recovered but have yet to pick the ball off. 

Both teams have struggled on the ground. A dominant Kentucky front held the Warhawks to just 17 rushing yards.  Jackson State has a much more respectable 70 yards per game on the ground, but they have yet to establish a lead rusher.