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|How 'bout them Warhawks|
So Todd Berry, if I asked you in May what would you think if you were 1-2 after games against Arkansas, Auburn and Baylor and lost the other two games by a total of eight points?
"I would have thought we were playing pretty well," Berry said by telephone Monday. "We've played two really close games we felt we should have won. The obvious answer would be I think a lot of people would take that."
Now maybe comes the even tougher part. Preparing for a Tulane team this week where ULM is a 20-point favorite in the Superdome.
"I feel like we have the Baylor game out of our system," said Berry, referring to the Warhawks' 47-42 loss to a team that has the second-longest winning streak at nine game before an ESPN audience in Monroe.
Berry admitted it is a challenge to get his team back playing at the same emotional level this week after the past three weeks.
"But this is a much more mature team," Berry said. "They understand the process. We can't let down. They were very focused at practice Sunday and I expect that the rest of the week. We cannot be focused on ourselves. And the team has understood that from day one."
While ULM is primarily a junior team, his squad has a ton of experience.
"Two years ago we were a freshman-dominated team," Berry said. "We took our lumps, but got some experience. Then last year we had a number of players go down with injuries in the first four games and we were playing younger guys again. That is one reason this team does not get caught up in what stadium we are playing in or who we are playing. They just want someone to put the ball down and play. They don't worry about all the other kind of things."
Berry said the recruiting process is also a bit different.
"This is not exactly a place everyone flocks to because of its past history," he said. "We look for the guy who may have a bit of a chip on his shoulder from being overlooked. We look for guys who fit into our system. We may pass on a guy with more stars to get a guy who fits into our system and knows what to expect when he gets here."
It's been a magical early part of the season for the Warhawks. If they can win the Sun Belt and finish with at least seven wins, it will be icing on the cake of an already remarkable season.
Todd Berry is this year's Mark Hudspeth. The Louisiana-Lafayette football coach took the Ragin' Cajuns on a magical ride last year, concluding with a 32-30 win over San Diego State in the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
There are a lot of possible speed bumps ahead for ULM's magic carpet ride (including that November 1 home game with UL). They certainly won't be sneaking up on anyone this year. But this year's Warhawk team seems to be up to the challenge.
No longer is it just fun to spend pre-game in the Grove. There is some serious football going on at Malone Stadium. The coaches and players deserve to have everyone who was complacent about the program before jumping on the bandwagon now. There is no excuse for the remainder of ULM games not being sold out. It was obvious Friday night how much a large crowd can make a difference. And ULM fans have certainly not been disappointed.
There's a real good football team playing in Monroe now. And it's not just at one of the high schools.
Warhawk fever. Who would have thought it? Well, apparently Todd Berry.
|Frank Morris Murder Series|