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News stories from Louisiana (Monroe)

From the Monroe, La., News Star:

Article published Sep 28, 2006

Lining up strong
ULM's young offensive front playing well

By Michael Kern
[email protected]

With just 13 seniors on the roster, the ULM football team doesn't measure experience by classroom credits.

The Warhawks have young players at key positions all over the field. But many of those already have been gaining valuable experience since their freshmen year.

No unit better reflects that mentality for the Warhawks than the offensive line.

Although the unit doesn't have a senior starter, the offensive line is among the most veteran positions on the field for the Warhawks. Four of last year's starters return this season, two of which are third-year starters in juniors Kyle Cunningham and Adam Hill.

Combined the current lineup has 87 starts between the five of them as ULM heads into Saturday's conference opener at home against Florida Atlantic ? an impressive number considering the lack of seniors in the group.

"We all played together for so long now that we've developed some camaraderie," said sophomore Larry Shappley, who is a returning starter at right tackle. "That's one reason we've really done well these past few weeks."

That cohesiveness has shown up particularly well in the pass blocking coverage of the Warhawks. Through three games, the ULM offensive line has allowed just two sacks ? none against Alabama.

That's a trend that carries over from last season when ULM allowed just eight sacks over 11 games. Really, it dates back to offensive line coach Steve Farmer's first year in 2004 when ULM allowed just nine sacks over 11 games.

By comparison, ULM gave up 23 sacks the year before Farmer arrived in 2003. That's more than the team has allowed in the following two plus seasons since he came to Monroe.

"That's something we take pride in," Cunningham said. "We don't like giving up a lot of sacks. Coach Farmer emphasizes with all of us pass protection. That's something that really burns all of our stomachs when we give up a sack."

Some of the reduction in sack totals is due to an offensive scheme that emphasizes a short passing game. The fact that ULM has had two consecutive athletic quarterbacks in Steven Jyles and Kinsmon Lancaster that could escape pressure also helps.

But keeping sacks to a minimum ? eliminating wasted plays as Farmer puts it ? remains a huge emphasis with the Warhawks and is something that will probably never be completely up to the coach's standards.

"We've only allowed two sacks, but we've also had some breakdowns where Kinsmon saved us," Farmer said. "If we could ever get through an entire game with zero quarterback pressures, I'd be a happy man."

ULM would like to be a balanced run-pass offense, though ? something it has been inconsistent in achieving at times this year. The Warhawks haven't averaged over four yards per carry in a game this season.

Against Alcorn State in the opener, ULM put together a strong second half running the ball after a slow first half. The Warhawks followed that by attempting just 23 rushes against Kansas because the passing game was having so much success.

From a run-blocking standpoint, the Warhawks have never looked better this year than on a second quarter touchdown drive against Alabama two weeks ago. ULM began the drive at its own 17-yard line and marched 83 yards for a touchdown.

Running back Calvin Dawson had 77 yards rushing on the drive, ripping off large chunks of yards at a time with six runs all of seven yards or more.

"At that point we made a decision that if we were going to stay in that game, we had to put together a 'Calvin Dawson drive,'" Farmer said. "We rolled up our sleeves and went to work and really knocked their guys back. Now there were also a few plays where we missed a block or two, but Calvin made some great runs."

Dawson had three more big runs later in the quarter, posting 15 carries for 113 yards by the end of the half.

Trailing by multiple scores in the second half, the Warhawks turned more towards the passing game. Dawson only had three carries in the second half.

But establishing the run against a SEC team's first-string defense showed the ULM offensive line what it was capable of accomplishing.

"That gave us a lot of confidence," Cunningham said. "Like anything else we would have liked to sustain that for four quarters. We kind of had a letdown in the second half, but it gave us a lot of confidence to go into an SEC school and have Calvin run for over 100 yards."
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News stories from Louisiana (Monroe)

From the Louisiana-Monroe web site:

Senior receiver out for violation of team rules

Sept. 28, 2006

MONROE, La. — ULM football head coach Charlie Weatherbie has announced that senior receiver Joe Merritt has been suspended indefinitely from the football team. Merritt has been suspended for violation of team rules.

[Note: He caught two passes for six yards against Alabama.]
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News stories from Louisiana (Monroe)

Homecoming Week at ULM

Sept. 26, 2006

Date: Saturday, Sept. 30, 2006

Time: 6:00 p.m. CDT

Site (Capacity): Malone Stadium (30,427), Monroe, La.

Game Day Experience:
**Game presented by The News Star and Chase Bank.
**First Sun Belt Conference game of the season.
**Homecoming Court Presentation at halftime.
**Silver Anniversary - Recognition of 1981 Football Team.
**Kids Zone - inflatables and other games for young Warhawk fans opens at 4:30 p.m.
**Announcement of Alumni Awards.
**Ticket Information - (318) 342-3ULM.

TV: Comcast/Cox Sports Television (Dave Lamont, play-by-play; TBA, color analyst)

Radio: ULM Radio Network (Frank Hoffman, play-by-play; Lou St. Amant, color analyst; Bruce Hanks, sidelines) - 104.1 FM - Monroe

Internet: **Live Stats and Radio Broadcast - www.ulmathletics.com
**Live Radio Broadcast - www.KJLO.com

Traveling with the Warhawks: **Fans interested in traveling with the Warhawks on their remaining road trips can contact Associate Athletics Director Doug Mosley for more information at 318-342-5442.

Polls: ULM and FAU are not ranked this week in the top 25 of the national polls.

Homecoming: It is Homecoming Week at ULM! The University community will be welcoming back alumni, friends and fans all week long as ULM celebrates its 75th Anniversary. The University opened as Ouachita (pronounced - Wah-chi-tah) Parish Junior College on September 28, 1931, with 416 students and 12 faculty, including President C.C. Colvert. The first season of football was played in 1931, finishing with a 4-1-1 record.

Silver Anniversary: The 1981 ULM football team will be reuniting this weekend on campus. The 1981 team was led by first-year head coach Pat Collins. John Holman was the starting quarterback and in his junior season, building up his record-setting passing and total offense numbers. The national magazine, Inside Sports, listed then-Northeast Louisiana as one of the "10 most exciting Division I-A teams to watch" in 1981 along with such programs as Arizona State, BYU, California, Florida, Illinois, Oklahoma, and others. In a season that included a 35-0 win over I-20 rival Louisiana Tech, ULM set 40 school records. The records included team marks for touchdowns, points, total yards and passing yards. Several of the marks remain among the top 10 in the ULM annals, while the single season passing mark of 3,180 yards still stands.

2006 Homecoming Court: The 2006 ULM Homecoming Court will have an athletic flavor. Senior distance runner Nathan Hall of West Monroe has been named the 2006 Homecoming King, winning a run-off election over former ULM football player L.B. Jeter, Jr. Hall is one of the top cross country runners for the Warhawks. Jeter was a member of the 2005 Sun Belt Championship team and is on campus this semester finishing up his degree in business. There is a two-in-three chance that the 2006 Homecoming Queen will be a ULM Warhawk student-athlete. Two of the Senior Maids on this year's court are track & field athlete Felicia Lee and basketball player Melanie Williams. Both young women are from Monroe. The Queen announcement will be made on Friday night, Sept. 29, at the 8 p.m. Pep Rally at Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

New Name, Same Goals: The ULM football team might be sporting a new mascot - the Warhawks, but the goals are still the same - Win Belt, Win Bowl. The Warhawks took the first step towards reaching those goals on Aug. 31 with the 24-6 win against Alcorn State in front of a crowd of 18,106 at Malone Stadium. ULM came close to realizing those goals last season by winning the 2005 Sun Belt Conference title. A season finale loss to Louisiana-Lafayette kept the Warhawks from the second part of the goal - a trip to the New Orleans Bowl in Lafayette, La.

ULM-FAU Series Information: This will be the third meeting between the two programs. It will be the Owls first trip to Malone Stadium. Last year at FAU, Calvin Dawson recorded his first 100+-yard rushing game with 115 yards, including a six-yard run with 1:23 left in the game to secure the 28-21 win. Chaz Williams had two interceptions in the game. The second was a 42-yard return to set up Dawson's touchdown run.

At ULM 0-0
At FAU 2-0
Longest ULM Win Streak 2
Longest FAU Win Streak N/A
Largest Margin of ULM Victory 7, 2005
Largest Margin of ULM Defeat N/A
ULM Head Coach Charlie Weatherbie: Charlie Weatherbie (Oklahoma State, 1977) is in his fourth season as head coach at ULM, the third with his full staff in place. Weatherbie agreed in principal to a three-year contract extension on Aug. 28, 2006. The agreement will be through the 2009 season and is pending approval by the ULM Athletic Foundation Board of Directors and the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. Under his direction, the Warhawk football program earned its first conference title since 1992 with a 5-2 finish in Sun Belt play last season. ULM has made significant strides in a short amount of time improving from 1-11 to 5-6 in just a year. Then maintaining a second 5-6 season to win the league title. Weatherbie, ULM's 13th head coach, took over the program a little less than three months before kicking off the 2003 season. The 2004 Warhawks won five of their last seven games, including four wins in Sun Belt Conference play. ULM's 4-3 Sun Belt record put Weatherbie's squad in a tie for third place. The season also saw the Warhawks beat intrastate rival Louisiana-Lafayette for the third season in a row. He has a 12-30 record at ULM, 57-89 overall with head coaching stops at Utah State and Navy. Weatherbie took USU and Navy to bowl games in his second season with each program.

Last Game Out for the Warhawks: Calvin Dawson ran for a career-high 118 yards against Alabama, but ULM could not stop the Crimson Tide. Alabama won the first meeting between the two teams, 41-7. Both teams are scheduled to meet again next season in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide scored first with 6:23 to go in the first quarter on a pass from John Parker Wilson to LeRon McClain to give Alabama a 7-0 lead. ULM kept the Tide at bay until the 14:09 mark of the second quarter, forcing Alabama to kick a field goal to take a 10-0 lead. The Warhawks responded on the next drive as Dawson picked up 77 yards on seven plays to put ULM in scoring position. After getting ULM to the Alabama 10 on the ground, Kinsmon Lancaster went to the air and hit Dawson for eight yards to put the Warhawks at the two. Lancaster finished the drive with a two-yard run into the endzone with 8:30 left in the first half. Alabama scored on the next drive to build a 17-7 lead which held going into the halftime intermission. The Crimson Tide came out strong in the second half, making several drives. On the first UA drive of the third quarter, the Warhawks kept the Tide out of the endzone with several stops inside the 10, forcing a 25-yard field goal, 20-7. UA built the lead to 27-7 with 16 seconds left in the third on a 43-yard screen pass from Wilson to D.J. Hall. The Alabama defense continued to stop the Warhawk offense in the second half, allowing ULM only 62 yards of total offense in the half. Alabama added to their lead in the fourth quarter with two touchdowns, 41-7. Senior all-purpose player Kevin Payne continued to be the Warhawks' man of many talents. Payne led the defense with 12 tackles, including five solo stops. He also averaged 45.5 yards over eight punts with a career-long of 63, and returned three kickoffs for 51 yards.

Lancaster Putting up the Yards: Kinsmon Lancaster's 407 yards of total offense against Kansas was the fourth-highest output in Bowl Subdivision play this season. His 377 yards passing in that game ranks sixth on the season.

Florida Atlantic Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger: Howard Schnellenberger (Kentucky, 1956; 128-111-3) is in his 22nd season as a collegiate head coach. After 14 seasons coaching in the NFL, including two season as the head coach of the Baltimore Colts, Schnellenberger became the head coach at the University of Miami in 1979. In five seasons, he took the Hurricanes from a 5-6 record to 11-1 and a national championship in 1983. In 1985, he began a 10-year stretch as the head coach at the University of Louisville, getting the Cardinals to five winning seasons, including a 10-1-1 mark in 1990. Schnellenberger joined the FAU staff on May 1, 1998 to accept the challenge of building a program from scratch. On Aug. 12, 2000, the Owls held their first practice and a year later, on Sept. 1, 2001, played their first varsity game. At age 72, Schnellenberger is the third oldest active NCAA I-A coach behind Penn State's Joe Paterno and Florida State's Bobby Bowden.

Last Game Out for Florida Atlantic: Sidney Rice caught a school record five touchdown passes from Syvelle Newton as South Carolina beat Florida Atlantic 45-6 on Sept. 23. With No. 2 Auburn coming to town Thursday night, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier wanted to use this game as a tuneup for his sputtering offense, which started the evening ranked 90th in the country. The Gamecocks (3-1) rolled up 492 total yards. Rice had nine catches for 161 yards, while Newton was 13-for-20 for 216 yards. His five TDs tied a school record. Freshman Taylor Rank, playing for the first time, led the rushers with 101 yards on 15 carries, while Mike Davis ran 15 times for 92 yards, The loss to South Carolina ended a brutal stretch in which Florida Atlantic (0-4) lost by a combined 192-20 at Clemson, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and South Carolina. One of the few highlights for Florida Atlantic was a four-play 80-yard drive that gave the Owls their first touchdown in the first half this season. It included a 47-yard run on third-and-7 by quarterback Sean Clayton and a 25-yard TD pass from Clayton to Jason Harmon on the next play. But holder Mike O'Neill bobbled the snap on the extra point and his desperate pass was broken up. Clayton led the Owls with 68 yards on five carries. Charles Pierre ran 10 times for 58 yards and Clayton and Rusty Smith combined to go 8-for-25 for 105 yards and an interception. Saturday night's game featured coaches on both sides with national titles - Spurrier won his in 1996 at Florida, while Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger won his championship in 1983 at Miami. Both are rebuilding programs that have never come close to that kind of glory. Spurrier is at a school that has won one conference title in 113 seasons and has an all-time losing record, while Schnellenberger is trying to build a program in just its fifth season in Division I-A.

2006 Florida Atlantic Schedule
Date Opponent Time (CST)/Result
Sept. 2 at #18 Clemson L, 6-54
Sept. 9 at Kansas State L, 0-45
Sept. 16 at Oklahoma State L, 8-48
Sept. 23 at South Carolina L, 6-45
Sept. 30 *at ULM 6 p.m.
Oct. 12 Southern Utah 6 p.m.
Oct. 18 *Louisiana-Lafayette 6 p.m.
Oct. 28 *Arkansas State 3 p.m.
Nov. 4 *at Middle Tennessee 2:30 p.m.
Nov. 11 *Troy 3 p.m.
Nov. 18 *at North Texas 6 p.m.
Nov. 25 *Florida International 6 p.m.
* = Sun Belt Conference game

Ball Hawks: ULM is doing a good job of holding onto the ball and forcing their opponents to cough it up. The Warhawks are currently 35th in the country with a turnover margin of +0.67, the only team in the Sun Belt with a positive turnover margin. The Warhawks went from four turnovers in Game One against Alcorn State to none against Kansas a week later.

More NCAA numbers: Quarterback Kinsmon Lancaster is ranked 41st in the nation in total offense with 218.0 yards per game. That number ranks him first in the Sun Belt Conference this week. Kevin Payne is ranked in the top 25 in two categories - tied for 20th in interceptions per game at 0.67, and 12th in punting with a 44.4 yards per punt average. His punting numbers lead the Sun Belt.

Sun Belt Leaders: ULM leads the Sun Belt in several team statistical categories after four weeks of play - pass offense, total offense, punting, passing efficiency, turnover margin, sacks against, opponent fourth down conversions, and red zone offense. Among individuals in the league, Kinsmon Lancaster leads in several categories - total offense (218.0), and scoring (6.0). Kevin Payne leads in punting (44.4 yyp). Payne is also fourth in the league in tackles with 8.30 per game, and tied for second in interceptions (0.67). Junior Calvin Dawson leads the league in all-purpose running with 133.3 yards per game on carries, receptions and kickoff returns. He is also second in rushing with 78.0 yards per game, and eighth in total offense (78.0).

Others Making Their Mark: Several Warhawks are making their presence known on the Sun Belt stats charts. LaGregory Sapp, Zeek Zacharie and Joe Merritt are all ranked in the top 10 in the Sun Belt in receiving yards per game. Zacharie and Sapp are top 10 in receptions per game. Zacharie is currently tied for fifth in the league in scoring with 4.0 points per game. James Wright and Josh Thompson are tied for sixth in interceptions with one each over three games. J. Thompson leads the league in recovered fumbles with two. J. Thompson and Chaz Williams are also ranked in the top 20 in the league in tackles. J. Thompson is tied for 11th with 6.3 per game, while C. Williams is tied for 14th with 5.7 per game. Christiaan Cambridge is tied for eighth with 1.33 tackles for loss per game, while Aaron Morgan is eighth in sacks with 0.67 per game. Cambridge, Ricky Williams, and Josh Alexander are tied for fourth in forced fumbles at 0.33 per game.

The One and Only: After two seasons of wearing jersey No. 24, senior cornerback Chaz Williams will be wearing jersey No. 1 in 2006. Williams, a senior, finished the 2005 season ranked fifth in the nation in interceptions with .50 per game. He is the top returning player in the country in the category. Williams has six career interceptions in 25 games for ULM. He is currently tied for fourth in the Sun Belt, along with Kevin Payne, in passes defended. He is the highest ranking player without an interception yet this season.

Putting In A Good Day's Work: Five Warhawks impressed the coaching staff so much during spring practice and preseason camp that they were awarded scholarships - Gary Frazier, Justin Waller, Joe Handy, Josh Thomas, and Victor Gaines. Frazier is a sophomore running back out of John Ehret High School in Harvey, La. Waller is a redshirt freshman tight end from Denham Springs, La. Handy is a sophomore deep snapper from Sterlington, La. Thomas is a freshman linebacker from Port Barre, La. Gaines is a sophomore defensive lineman out of Clements High School in Sugar Land, Texas.

Seen At Practice: With the success of several former Warhawks in the professional ranks, there has been a steady stream of professional scouts coming through Malone Stadium in the past months. Alonzo Highsmith of the Green Bay Packers was the first to come to campus on Aug. 15. The most in one day has been five a week later - San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, and St. Louis Rams.

Blast from the Past: Former ULM quarterback John Holman, currently living in Mobile, Ala., and his family dropped by practice on Aug. 4. Holman reminisced with assistant trainer Robert Williamson and equipment manager David Cox and visited with Charlie Weatherbie for a bit during practice. Holman, who saw many of his ULM career records beaten by Steven Jyles last season, played by the bayou from 1979-82. He still holds the single season record for pass attempts with 461 in 1982.

Injury Report for Florida Atlantic game: Just bumps and bruises.

2006 Game Captains:
Alcorn State - Kevin Payne, Kinsmon Lancaster, Chaz Williams, Cody Bauman
Kansas - Kevin Payne, Kinsmon Lancaster, Cody Bauman, Quintez Secka
Alabama - Kevin Payne, Kinsmon Lancaster, Chaz Williams, Ben Murphy

Hammer Award: Given to the Warhawk who made the biggest hit in the game.
Alcorn State - Austin Willis, Sr., S, Conroe, Texas
Kansas - Ben Murphy, Jr., LB, Shreveport, La.; Adam Hill, Jr., C, Arlington, Texas
Alabama - None

30 and still going strong: 2006 marks the 30th season that play-by-play announcer Dr. Frank Hoffman has served as the voice of ULM football. Hoffman is joined by his color partner of 22 years, Lou St. Amant. Bruce Hanks roams the sidelines for the third season.

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Warhawks Play Florida Atlantic Saturday

Cody Futrell
Issue date: 9/29/06 Section: Sports

Following a loss to Alabama, a week off was well received by ULM coaches and players alike. Now it's back to the gridiron, and back to work. Florida Atlantic comes to Malone Stadium for homecoming 2006, Saturday at 6 p.m.

The game has many interesting angles to it, both on and off of the field. For one, this marks the first homecoming start for quarterback Kinsmon Lancaster. The game will also come on a day ULM will celebrate seventy-five years of excellence as an academic institution. Lancaster has proven to be a leader of the ULM offense this season. The sophomore from Shreveport, La. has passed for 550 yards in his first three starts.

Florida Atlantic is a team still searching for its first win of the season. To make the situation even tougher for the Owls, they will be playing on the road for the fifth straight week. The Owls have struggled to score this season, being outscored 192-20. FAU is lead offensively by junior quarterback Sean Clayton. Clayton has passed for 316 yards and a touchdown strike in four games this season.

ULM has spent the bye week working, not just on their plans to ground the Owls, but on the fundamentals that will make the Warhawks a better football team. After showing a knack for ball protection with turnovers at Kansas, Alabama took the football away from ULM twice in the Crimson Tide victory.

The Warhawks would also like to get the ball in the end zone when the opportunities arise. After starting the season with a 24-6 victory over Alcorn State, ULM has struggled to score points. The Warhawks were unsuccessful in four red zone opportunities two weeks ago at Kansas. At Alabama last week, ULM struggled to get anything going offensively, credited to too many turnovers and penalties.

Saturday will also be a chance for the ULM defense to continue its solid performance that has continued all season long to this point. ULM continues to be one of the best defenses at forcing turnovers in all of America. Through three games, ULM has forced eight turnovers. With FAU favoring the run on offense this season, ULM must improve up front to stop the Owls rushing attack, an area where ULM is surrendering 140 yards per game.

ULM has had great success against FAU, going undefeated in the series, dating back to 2004, and the Warhawks have won both meetings between the two teams by a combined score of 45-34. Homecoming festivities will be going on all day around campus, while kickoff at Malone Stadium is set for 6 p.m.

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OPENING DRIVE: ULM vs. Florida Atlantic

By Michael Kern
[email protected]

ULM enters today's game against Florida Atlanticwith the chance to shake some major demons. The Warhawks are 0-3 under Coach Charlie Weatherbie in games played after a bye week.
Facing an opponent that has struggled mightily against four major conference opponents, ULM is playing the role of heavy favorite after consecutive road games where the Warhawks were double-digit underdogs.

In addition, this is the conference opener for both teams. Last year, ULM opened conference play with a win at FAU en route to winning its first three conference games and building a lead in the Sun Belt Conference standings that contributed to team's eventual co-conference title. With the next two games coming on the road against Arkansas State and Troy, ULM coaches would like nothing more than to secure a big W today.

Keys to victory

Coming off a bye week, ULM enters today's contest not having played a game in 14 days. The Warhawks will need to shake off any rust as quickly as possible and try to build an early lead.

Florida Atlantic has fallen behind by large margins early in all four of its previous games. If ULM can similarly put the Owls behind the eight ball, they may be less likely to continue putting up a fight.

What the Warhawks don't want is a repeat of their season-opener a month ago against Alcorn State. In that game, the Braves hung around far too long and the ball deep in ULM territory with the chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter.

Top matchup
FAU receivers vs. ULM defensive backs

What little offense the Owls have been able to muster this year has been through the air. Florida Atlantic is averaging 157 yards passing per game this year.

If the Warhawks can take away the passing game and force the Owls to run the ball, it could be difficult for Florida Atlantic to generate points. The Owls are averaging just two yards per rushing attempt.

Get in the game
Each of ULM's last two meetings with Florida Atlantic have ended with an exciting flourish.

In last year's 28-21 victory, ULM cornerback Chaz Williams picked off a pass with 1:29 to go in the fourth quarter and the game tied.

Seconds later, Calvin Dawson ran it in from six yards out for the game-winning touchdown.

In 2004, Chris Harris picked off a pass with 57 seconds left in the game to preserve a 17-13 victory for ULM.

ULM coaches are probably hoping the outcome won't be in doubt quite so late in the game this year.

2006 Implications

A win to open up conference play is critical for ULM as it faces the same team that it beat to open conference play last year. If the Warhawks don't win conference home games like this one, they won't come close to competing for a Sun Belt championship.

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