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September 15, 2010
The tenth season of Sun Belt Conference football kicks off on Saturday with a trip to Jonesboro, Ark. to square off against the Red Wolves of Arkansas State. Last season, the Warhawk defense made a series of late stops to preserve a 16-10, rain soaked win in Malone Stadium.
"I think this conference has a tremendous amount of parity, in both an athletic stand point and a coaching stand point," first year Head Coach Todd Berry said. "All the football teams in our conference are going to be well coached."
Although their record may not indicate it, the Red Wolves are a solid football team ready to haul in their first victory of the season.
The game will be an uphill battle for ULM. The home team has won the last five straight games, and the Warhawks have not left ASU victorious since 2001. In addition to history not being on their side, the Warhawks will again have to battle with young personnel. In last weeks season opener a total of nine true freshmen and 15 others got their first start.
Offensively ASU is led by sophomore quarterback Ryan Aplin. Aplin set a new school record last week in a loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. Entering the fourth quarter, the Red Wolves trailed 31-7. Aplin would go on an offensive tear as he ended the game with 453 yards in the 31-24 loss. The passing total is the most by any FBS quarterback this season.
"The scouting that we've done on these guys, we've had to throw out the window, as they've made some adjustments, and that's good for them, that's the mark of a good coach," Berry said. "I think their quarterback has done a good job managing the game, he distributes the ball really well and they have the same spread mentality."
Aplin's favorite target, Dwayne Frampton, is not a secret to the ULM coaching staff. The JUCO transfer currently leads the team in receptions with 13, and set a new career best last week against the Cajuns.
"They are going to try to get him the ball," Berry said. "He moves around real well, and he's a good little player that can create some explosive plays for them."
Defensively, senior defensive end Bryan Hall anchors their attack. Hall, the preseason Sun Belt Conference defensive player of the year, has the full attention of redshirt freshman Kolton Browning.
"They are pretty well coached upfront," Browning said. "They are pretty aggressive and run some stunts upfront, and are kind of similar to Arkansas to me. I think our o-line can handle them though and we'll be alright upfront."
Kickoff for the televised game is scheduled for 7pm on the Sun Belt Network.