Speedy ULM wide receiver Luther Ambrose has been slow to make an impact this season.
Through three games, the senior from St. James has just five catches for 22 yards and no touchdowns. He’s averaging a measly 4.4 yards per catch and is among those receivers on the offensive unit who have notably dropped passes.
“I think Luther needs to get going,” ULM coach Todd Berry said during his weekly news conference previewing the Iowa game. “I’m not down on Luther. I love Luther. He works hard; he does all the things we ask him to do. He’s just been a little bit inconsistent catching the ball.”
Ambrose enjoyed his best season as a junior when he grabbed 65 balls for 752 yards and six touchdowns. He led the Sun Belt with 6.6 catches per game and earned second-team All-Sun Belt and All-Louisiana honors. For his career, he has 116 catches for 1,389 yards and 11 scores.
“This isn’t a different Luther,” Berry added. “He was inconsistent catching last year too. The thing that’s happened is that there are some other guys who have stepped up that have shown they can be playmakers and shown they can catch the football.”
Still, there aren’t many athletes in the nation who bring pure speed to the field like Luther Ambrose. The 5-8, 185-pounder finished third in the NCAA Championships as a sophomore in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.12 and holds numerous school records in track and field.
“I would like to see him play faster,” Berry said. “On the kickoff return that TCU had, Luther is the safety and he never closed on the guy. I know he’s straining. It’s not that. It’s just that he’s got to play as fast in his pads as he does in his track shorts.”
Berry said the boost in production last year actually came from giving Ambrose fewer chances.
“We’ve found over a period of time that he’s much more effective whenever he’s getting 30, 35 snaps a game rather than 70 snaps a game,” Berry said. “We tried to give him 70 snaps last year and he became very ineffective at that point at time. And so, we’re trying to limit his repetitions and pick our moments. We had a few moments in the game the other day when the ball was to go to Luther. But Luther does have legitimate track speed and there was a little attention focused whenever he was in the game and that allowed some other players to make some plays.”
Ambrose was recruited to campus by the previous coaching staff with much fanfare. He landed at ULM rated as the nation’s No. 17 running back by ESPN. The staff moved him to receiver to give him more space to flash his skills.
Berry said there are still plays in the offense designed for Ambrose to do his thing. It’s up to him to make the most of his opportunities.
“When plays are out there, good players make plays,” Berry said. “If players aren’t making plays, consequently, you have to find somebody else who can make the play. Or, you’ve got to go out and recruit a better player.”