The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The 10th-ranked Auburn Tigers of the SEC welcome the ULM Warhawks of the Sun Belt Conference on Saturday.
ULM opened this season with back-to-back losses, including a 24-point setback to Arkansas of the SEC. Fortunately, the Warhawks were able to put one in the win column last time out, albeit against Southeastern Louisiana, an FCS squad, by only one point (21-20).
"I've never been around a bad win, but that is probably the ugliest win I've certainly ever been around," said ULM head coach Todd Berry.
In November, ULM will face a third SEC team when it travels to Baton Rouge to take on LSU.
As for Auburn, it has opened the season with four consecutive wins, and the last three victories have come by a total of 14 points. Last weekend, the Tigers bested South Carolina by a 35-27 final, and they are now 2-0 versus SEC competition.
Auburn has won all seven of its previous meetings with ULM, the most recent of which took place in 2008.
Of the three touchdowns that ULM scored against Southeastern Louisiana last time out, two were turned in by the offense. The Warhawks finished with 363 yards, a passable total, but the ground attack mustered just 114 yards at a clip of 2.2 yards per carry. Fortunately, quarterback Kolton Browning was able to complete 23-of-34 passes for 249 yards with a pair of touchdowns. Thanks to the signal caller, the Warhawks were able to make good on 10-of-20 third-down conversion attempts and keep possession of the ball for more than 38 minutes.
Through three games, it is obvious that there is plenty of room for improvement offensively. The Warhawks are averaging 16.0 ppg and 314.0 total ypg, numbers that simply won't get it done. Browning completed 59 percent of his passes for 590 yards and five touchdowns with four interceptions. Browning is tops in rushing as well with 180 yards, while Luthur Ambrose leads the receivers with two scores.
Defensively, ULM deserves credit for last weekend's performance, as it limited Southeastern Louisiana to 4-of-15 success on third down and 0-of-3 on fourth down. The Warhawks yielded a mere 266 total yards in the tilt, including just 54 yards on 24 rushing attempts.
"I felt like we started out flat and I felt like we weren't ready in the beginning," said defensive end Ken Dorsey. "As the game went along, we were able to come along and play hard."
Opponents are posting 28.3 ppg against ULM, which is surrendering 413.0 total ypg. The Warhawks have clearly struggled against the pass more than the run, as they are permitting 284.0 ypg through the air on 12.3 yards per completion.
Auburn is generating 32.8 ppg and 468.0 total ypg, and the man most responsible for the success of the offense is quarterback Cam Newton. A former Florida Gator who also spent a year at a community college, Newton is a dual threat who has thrown for 683 yards and nine touchdowns while also leading the team with 485 rushing yards and five scores. He has completed 63.2 percent of his passes and has just three interceptions in four games.
Darvin Adams is a big-time playmaker at receiver, and he has 14 catches for 259 yards and two touchdowns to date. Michael Dyer is the second-leading rusher for the Tigers with 312 yards.
Newton was dominant against South Carolina last week, running for three scores and throwing for two more.
"You can just read Cam's numbers and they speak for themselves," said Auburn coach Gene Chizik. "I think he is getting better as a quarterback and a team leader and a guy who can manage our offense every week.""
Defensively, the Tigers certainly weren't perfect against South Carolina, but they did enough to win the game. Auburn intercepted two passes and limited the Gamecocks to 79 yards rushing at a clip of 2.8 yards per carry.
"There were some things that we did defensively where we gave up too many big plays, but we knew going into the game that we had to stop the run game without question," said Chizik.
Through four games, Auburn is permitting 22.8 ppg and 350.8 total ypg. The squad has been tough against the run, allowing 3.0 ypc, but there is definitely room for improvement against the pass, as foes have twice as many scores as interceptions.