As a part of this week’s football preview, ASOR welcomes Adam Hunsucker who covers sports for “The News-Star” which is a newspaper that covers Northeast Louisiana.

Liberty has the 6th best rushing attack in the nation with 274 ypg. ULM is allowing 282 ypg on the ground so far this season. What will the Warhawks do to limit Liberty’s rushing attack?

Adam Hunsucker: We have a decent sample to tell us that will be tough for ULM to do. The Warhawks have had one of the worst run defenses in the Sun Belt three out of the last four years and that hasn’t changed even with a new defensive coordinator. ULM plays an eight-man front, similar to Liberty’s actually, and I expect them to stack the box. The problem is depending on the success Liberty has running it, and the amount of man coverage the Warhawks play, it will leave those defensive backs one-on-one for play action shots and RPOs.

Colby Suits and the Warhawks passing attack will be the best the Flames have seen this season. With the Flames’ secondary being questionable, do you expect the  Warhawks to pass a lot and be one-dimensional on offense, or will they make it a priority to run the ball as well?

AH: I do. Though that’s more of a necessity right now than a philosophical choice. ULM head coach Matt Viator, who doubles as the play caller, believes in balance. That’s just been hard to do with the problems on the offensive line. Josh Johnson is a capable back, he rushed for over 1,300 yards last season, but with three new starters and limited practice time due to a coronavirus outbreak in August, there isn’t much continuity up there right now. The ground game improved against Georgia Southern, but still topped out at only 92 yards. There’s no doubt the strength of this unit right now is Colby Suits, who leads the Sun Belt with passing yards, a mark that’s fifth overall in FBS.

TE Josh Pederson is ULM’s leading receiver. Does the Warhawks passing attack go through him and how much of an impact will he make Saturday?

AH: It does and that’s been an interesting point to follow this season. ULM fans think Pederson should be getting the ball more, even though he’s receiving more targets than any other receiver. His numbers reflect this offense’s inability to run the football. So much of what ULM wants to do is predicated on the RPO. When you don’t have the R in the RPO though, the defense doesn’t have to respect it and it limits opportunities for Pederson to get behind linebackers and safeties down field.

Who is one player on ULM that could make a huge impact Saturday and potentially flip things in the Warhawks favor?

AH: Linebacker Traveion Webster is having a good season despite some of the defensive inconsistency. ULM needs the same outing that Webster had at Army, where it felt like he made pretty much every play. I expect Liberty to challenge ULM vertically, which means cornerbacks Kenderick Marbles and Josh Newton need to be on their game. Marbles is in the starting lineup for All-American Corey Straughter, who is out for the season with a wrist injury.

What is your prediction for the game?

AH:  Slow starts have been a problem for ULM all season. With an early kickoff on the road, I can see that unfolding again. The Warhawks have not led in a game this season either. Liberty jumps on them early and wins 42-21.