Warhawks Will Try to Spoil Owls’ Homecoming

Scheduling the Owls against a weak opponent on Homecoming week is just as traditional in college football as Homecoming itself.

The Owls will face off against one of the worst teams in the Sun Belt upon the annual return of the alumni to their alma mater, but this game won’t be a cakewalk. Louisiana-Monroe has skilled players and picked up an impressive conference win over favored Arkansas State earlier this season.

ULM has been a thorn in FAU’s side since the Owls started playing the Warhawks back in 2004. In that year and again in 2005, the Owls fell to the Warhawks at Lockhart Stadium. Last season, the Owls finally picked up their first-ever win against ULM – a 21-19 squeaker in Monroe. All three games between the teams were decided within seven points or less.

Last season, ULM won its final three Sun Belt games after dropping their first four. The Warhawks’ coach, Charlie Weatherbie, is 11-23 in three years at the school.

This season, the Warhawks feature one of the country’s leading runners in Calvin Dawson, who is billed at 5-10 and 207 pounds but actually appears to be smaller. The diminutive senior rushed for over 1,200 yards and 11 TDs last season, and he’s on pace to have another stellar season this year. At press time, Dawson was the Sun Belt’s leading rusher, averaging 134 yards a game and three TDs.

Monroe quarterback Kinsmon Lancaster leads yet another form of the spread option offense, which is the newest craze in college football. In an offensive format similar to what the Owls saw from North Texas, the Warhawks will try to outrun FAU. The speedy Lancaster runs, throws and plays the option. He saw action in last year’s Owls victory, completing 12 of 18 passes for 125 yards.

This will be Owls quarterback Rusty Smith’s first ever start against the Warhawks. Last season Sean Clayton started and completed 12 of 18 passes for 164 yards. Charles Pierre ran for 85 yards that day and Clayton ran for 54 more. This season, Smith is the Owls starter and leads the Sun Belt in passing touchdowns.

The Warhawks’ Greg James was named Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week for his two interceptions against Arkansas State, giving ULM’s first win of the 2007 season. James collected nine interceptions just five games into his sophomore season and four this year. He finished second on the team with seven tackles against ASU, six of which were solo.

James will be trying to outperform Smith, who has thrown three interceptions for the Owls this season while completing over 50 percent of his passes. Smith’s been named Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week twice already this season.

The Owls are 4-2 all-time on Homecoming week, with wins over Jacksonville, Morris Brown, Gardner-Webb in 2001-03 and Arkansas State last year. FAU lost to New Mexico State in 2004 and Middle Tennessee in 2005.