Coming off three consecutive wins to start the 2020 season, Liberty football will look to improve to 4-0 in a home matchup against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks.
2019 was a season of heartbreaks for ULM. ULM lost nail biters to Florida State, Arkansas State, and Louisiana: a team that trounced Liberty in week two. The Warhawks finished 2019 with a record of 5-7 in 2019, and the team is off to a 0-4 start to 2020.
Gone from 2019 is star quarterback Caleb Evans, who accounted for roughly 11,000 total yards of offense in three seasons as a starter. Sophomore Colby Suits won the starting job in fall camp and has proven himself, despite the team’s record. Suits ranks fifth in the nation with 1,043 passing yards. Suits is also second on the team in rushing and capable of creating first downs on broken plays.
One of Suits’ favorite target is senior tight end Josh Pederson. Pederson, who Flames head coach Hugh Freeze alluded to in a Monday press conference as, “the best we’ve faced,” leads the team with 16 receptions and 174 receiving yards. Alongside Peterson are receivers Jahquan Bloomfield and Jevin Frett, who have tallied 173 and 165 yards receiving, respectively. Frett is a 6’4 wideout who the Warhawks could target in jump ball situations.
Josh Johnson is the only running back on the team who has carried the ball more than five times this year. Johnson, who had 201 carries for 1,315 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019, has rushed for 148 yards and two touchdowns in 2020. Behind Suits, Peterson and Johnson, ULM’s offense is the team’s obvious strength.
Despite the Warhawks’ wealth of offensive talent, the unit has been hit-or-miss this season. The team scored seven points against Army in week one, 17 against Texas State in week two, six against UTEP in week three, and 30 against Georgia Southern last week. Liberty defensive coordinator Scott Symons will have a good game plan, and I think that Liberty will hold ULM to no more than 21 points.
ULM’s defense struggled last season and hasn’t fared much better in 2020. The Warhawks are surrendering an average of 35 points per contest, and the Flames are arguably the best offense the team has so far this year. Malik Willis is back this week for Liberty, and I think the Flames offense will have a field day.
Liberty will win this game by at least 2-3 touchdowns. ULM’s defense won’t be able to stop the Flames offense, and a field day from Malik Willis will carry the Flames to a comfortable week-four win.