The box score is as ugly as the final score for ULM after its lopsided 38-10 loss at Middle Tennessee. The Warhawks (3-4, 2-2) surrendered six sacks, netted minus-4 yards rushing and converted just three of 18 third down opportunities on Saturday in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Nine penalties for 77 yards were also part of ULM's plague.
"We physically got beat up," ULM coach Todd Berry said in his postgame radio interview. "We didn't have enough subs to come in to help some guys out. We need to get in the weight room. There's no question about that. That's the way a football team is supposed to look and they physically dominated us."
The Warhawks are getting production out of quarterback Kolton Browning, but the offense was woefully one-sided against the Blue Raiders. Browning hit 25-of-43 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown and was picked off twice. The six sacks against him took 39 yards off the rushing tally.
"Bottom line is, you're 3-of-18 on third down, you're not keeping yourself on the field, you're putting the defense back out," ULM offensive coordinator Steve Farmer said on ULM's postgame radio show. "Obviously when that's happening, you're not scoring points." ULM's first offensive series started well and ended badly. Browning completed three of his first four passes for 37 yards but his fifth pass was intercepted and returned 70 yards for a touchdown.
"Once we threw that pick six, it felt like we had a hard time getting anything right for a little bit," Farmer said. "Unfortunately, it was a collective effort from tight ends, O-line, quarterback, wide receivers, running backs -- it wasn't a very good night for us across the board."
Zach Rhodes led the feeble running game with 14 yards on his only carry. Starting running back Jyruss Edwards and Frank Goodin combined for 11 yards on nine carries. "We tried to come out and tempo them," Farmer said. "I was throwing the ball a little more early than we have because we felt like that's what we do best. When you have some drops, some miscues, it keeps you from being able to sustain drives."
After falling behind 28-3 by halftime, there was no patience to run the ball in the second half. "You look up and the score gets out of hand," Farmer said. "Obviously you're throwing the ball again. Part of that's me. I need to call it more. Part of that's the kids. They need to execute it better when we call it."
Line dancing: Another upperclassman took a seat for a freshman in the starting lineup as Jon Fisher replaced junior Anthony Montgomery at right tackle to open the game. He is the eighth freshman to start this season for the Warhawks and the second true freshman to start on the offensive line, joining center Josh Allen up front. Fisher is the 18th ULM player to make his first career start this season.
Back track: After escaping with a 35-30 win over Western Kentucky a week ago, ULM left Bowling Green, Ky., with the belief the Hilltoppers would win a game soon to snap a their 26-game losing streak. Sure enough, Western Kentucky put it all together Saturday night to embarrass Louisiana-Lafayette 54-21 and spoil homecoming for the Ragin' Cajuns. The Hilltoppers (1-6, 1-2) won for the first time since beating FCS school Murray State, 50-9, on Sept. 20, 2008.
Up next: Homecoming for ULM on Oct. 30 means a visit from Sun Belt power Troy (4-2, 3-0) at Malone Stadium. Kickoff is 2:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on the Sun Belt Network. Troy enjoyed an open date this week. The Trojans have their own standout freshman quarterback in Corey Robinson, who threw a national record 91 touchdowns as a senior in high school. The Kentucky native averages 276.2 yards in total offense per game. The Warhawks have won the last two meetings between the two schools in Monroe, including a 31-30 contest two seasons ago.
Tail feathers: ULM is averaging 85.4 yards per game on the ground through seven games. Goodin, who entered the season averaging 4.8 yards per carry for his career, is averaging 2.5 yards per attempt this year. … ULM is six-of-32 on third down conversions the past two games. ULM converted three of 14 last week at Western Kentucky.
…Punter Aaron Munoz punted 10 times for a 39.5 average. … Linebacker Theo Smith and offensive lineman Jonathan Gill extended their team-leading (non-special teams) consecutive games started streak to 19 games -- place kicker Radi Jabour started his 29th career game. …
Browning is the first ULM quarterback to throw for over 200 yards in six straight games since Raymond Philyaw in 1995. Browning has thrown a touchdown pass in six of ULM's seven games this season. His 1,515 passing yards are the most by a ULM quarterback through seven games since Raymond Philyaw had 1,621 in 1996. … Luther Ambrose caught a career-high passes and scored his fourth touchdown of the year.