The Warhawks return to Malone Stadium for the first time in 2017 as they host Conference USA foe Southern Miss.
ULM comes into the game with an 0-1 record after a close loss to Memphis and an unexpected bye week with the cancellation of the game at Florida State.
The Golden Eagles enter the match-up and their first road game of the season with a 1-1 record. They lost a close game to Kentucky 24-17 before beating Southern 45-0.
This game will be a big mark of where the ULM program is under Coach Viator. A win against the Eagles, who have been a pretty good team in Conference USA, would show how far the Warhawks have come in two years.
To get the victory, they will have to do show improvement on several things from their week one loss.
1) ELIMINATE THE BIG PLAY. Memphis scored on three touchdown runs over 50 yards against the ULM defense and returned a kickoff for a touchdown. The Warhawk defense needs to cut down on those explosive plays that can be huge momentum shifts in a game.
2) WIN THE RUN GAME. With eliminating the big plays, ULM will need to win the run game on offense and defense. The Warhawks showed signs of being able to control the ball with a determined rushing attack behind a solid Offensive Line and a deep stable of running backs. However, Southern Miss's most dangerous player is RB Ito Smith. Smith can break a big play any time. ULM needs to control the clock with their own run game and slow the Southern Miss rushing attack down.
3) HOLD ON TO THE BALL. ULM had 6 fumbles in their first game. The weather did nothing to help the players hold on to the ball, but that is not an excuse as Memphis only had 1 fumble. The Warhawks can't afford to lose the turnover battle by a large margin again.
4) FAST START. This one seems obvious, but can be important. ULM will be home for the first time this season and expectations are high in Monroe. A fast start that will get the fans riled up will only help the team. A fumble on the opening kickoff like the first game could be a huge momentum shift to the other sideline.
5) FIND A RHYTHM. Garrett Smith is getting the start for the Warhawks at QB, but Caleb Evans is expected to play. One of these two guys needs to take the reigns on the position so the offense can find a good flow. A good rushing attack will help, but there is nothing like consistent Quarterback play to lead a team to victory.