Even after the one-point loss to the Cajuns, which came about when the visitors blocked an extra point for the decisive margin in their 23-22 victory, the Warhawks were thinking ahead.
"As for myself," said quarterback Kolton Browning, who earned the starting job as a redshirt freshman, "I need to get in the film room, study some of the things I did wrong and take care of the ball a little better."
The Warhawks absorbed some big losses along the way, losing their opener to Arkansas 31-7 and later giving up more than 50 points each to SEC teams Auburn and LSU, but they also showed some resiliency. After the 52-3 loss at Auburn, they came back to beat Florida Atlantic 20-17. Following the 51-0 setback at LSU, they beat North Texas 49-37. That win over the Mean Green gave them a 4-3 Sun Belt record and 5-6 overall mark. Bowl eligibility was just a win over a slumping Cajun team away.
But the Warhawks couldn't get it done despite jumping out to a 13-0 lead.
Coach Todd Berry called the last loss "tough to swallow" and bemoaned the loss for his seniors. He also looked at the reasons for the loss and vowed improvements.
"We had some penalties that hurt us," he said. "I'll get that corrected in the offseason. We had some turnovers that hurt us. I will get that corrected in the offseason. And we had some missed assignments. Some of those I will get corrected in the offseason, some I won't, depending on who they were with."
Game Of The Year: ULM 28, Troy 14-Few saw this one coming. The Warhawks had lost 38-10 at Middle Tennessee the week before to fall to 3-4 on the year and now were facing four-time Sun Belt winner Troy, which was 3-0 in conference play and riding a three-game winning streak. But QB Kolton Browning threw for 226 yards and a touchdown and ran for two more scores to lead the offense. The defense took over for the Warhawks in the second half, pitching a shutout over the final two quarters. The Warhawks held the Trojans' vaunted passing attack to just 167 yards through the air and only 285 yards in total offense. ULM amassed 428 yards with 191 on the ground.
Player Of The Year: QB Kolton Browning-The redshirt freshman earned the starting job in the spring over incumbent starter Trey Revell and never let go once fall camp began. Browning ended up throwing for 2,552 yards, topping the 200-yard mark in eight consecutive games. He completed 61.9 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns against 12 interceptions.
Fast Forward: Of the 44 players listed on the two-deep depth chart for the regular-season finale, only eight were seniors. The Warhawks welcome back Browning and his top receivers, Luther Ambrose and Tavarese Maye, and RB Jyruss Edwards should be ready to assume a bigger load after serving mainly as Frank Goodin's backup. LB Theo Smith is the key loss on defense.
Recruiting Trail: Coach Todd Berry and his staff have done yeoman's work on their second recruiting class that includes a trio of Rival 3-star commitments.
Quote To Note: "For our underclassmen, I think there are a lot of reasons to be excited about next year and like I just told them, I don't even want them to think about it. I think there is time to get excited about it later on. If they don't hurt right now and it doesn't sink in for them, then you're asking for another situation like this to happen to them in the future."-Coach Todd Berry, after the disappointing loss to Louisiana-Lafayette in the season finale kept the Warhawks from becoming bowl eligible.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Players To Watch In 2011:
QB Kolton Browning-Browning had a big year as a redshirt freshman, giving the Warhawks both a passing and a running threat. He ended up second on the Warhawks in rushing with 385 yards, though for much of the season he was the leader.
WR Luther Ambrose-Ambrose was one of the more productive receivers in the Sun Belt with 65 catches for 752 yards and six touchdowns.
WR Tavarese Maye-Like Browning, Maye was a redshirt freshman in 2010, and he finished second on the team in receiving with 43 catches for 505 yards. He also rushed for 103 yards and scored one rushing touchdown to go with his three TD receptions.
S Alex Ibe-Ibe came up with some big plays for the Warhawks down the stretch. He ended up with a team-high three interceptions and had 66 tackles.
• LB Vincent Eddie started the finale against Louisiana-Lafayette, becoming the fourth true freshman to start a game for the Warhawks in 2010.
• PK Radi Jabour moved into third place in kicker scoring for ULM with 166 points. He was 8-of-10 on field goals and 26-of-29 on PAT kicks this season.
• RB Frank Goodin, who entered his final season with hope of becoming ULM's all-time leading rusher, finished his career with 2,943 yards after rushing for a season-best 94 against Louisiana-Lafayette. That is third best all-time for ULM behind the 3,378 of Calvin Dawson and 3,061 of Roosevelt Potts.