MONROE, La. – Led by a 34-yard field goal as time expired from Radi Jabour, the offense won the ULM Maroon & Gold spring football game, 21-19, Saturday afternoon in front of an energized crowd inside Malone Stadium. The defensive unit led for the majority of the game, until the offensive squad scored a late touchdown to get within striking distance.
"I am excited about where we are at, but we have a long way to go," head coach Todd Berry said. "I am excited about where we are at in relation to where I thought we would be. We just have to keep working and I know this group will do that."
The defense attacked early with a variety of blitzes, as they went ahead by double-digits on the heels of seven sacks and an interception returned for a touchdown by Ken Dorsey. The defense also recorded five plays for lost yardage and forced the offense into a three-and-out series.
In four 15-minute running clock quarters, the offensive team started slow before putting together two explosive plays (20-plus yards) in the second half and three total in the game. The offense's lone touchdown was a pass-and-catch play for 26-yards down the left sideline from Kolton Browning to Isaiah Newsome.
At halftime of the game Berry presented four annual awards handed out by the ULM football program.
Defensive end Aaron Morgan was received the President's Award for the highest achieving student-athlete who sees playing time on the field.
Mitch Doyle was presented with the Al Miller Award for his dedication to strength and conditioning. Al Miller, a former strength and conditioning coach at ULM, is a member of the ULM Sports Hall of Fame as a wide receiver.
James Truxillo was the recipient of the John David Crow Academic Award given to the highest achieving student-athlete. Crow is a former ULM head football coach and athletic director and a ULM Hall of Fame member.
Josh Thomas was the recipient of the Chip Luffey Award presented annually to a senior student-athlete who exemplifies sportsmanship, leadership, and good character. It was established in 1981 in memory of Chip Luffey, a former ULM student.
*** Todd Berry post-spring game comments:
Comments on Quarterback battle:
"Yeah, that has kind of what happened this spring, they have all (quarterbacks) had their moments. We obviously have to get that bad out of them and competition is a wonderful thing. I think that shows and you guys saw today, there is some good competition there. You could throw them in a sack and pick one out and you would be O.K. In the same sense there are some things we have to get corrected."
Comments on offensive players understanding new coaches and system:
This is pretty much a quarterback driven offense and it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on those guys intellectually in what we are asking the quarterback to do, in relation to what they have done in the past. I have coached quarterbacks in the past and I know this group will come around. They have made huge strides mentally and we have to continue to close that gap mentally, because most of our mistakes are not physical, they are mental. We will continue to close that gap, as we have done already in relation to where we started and where we are at now.
Comments on players understanding new terminology:
There are a lot of different ways you can go into spring practice. We wanted our players to get their arms around everything we had a chance to do. Right now if we had to go out and play a game we could functionally play a game. The other avenue you could take as a head coach is to come in here and say we are going to get good at some basic stuff and then we will learn all this in preseason camp. I have had good experiences with throwing it all out there and letting the players see the broad paint stroke and then refining your identity. I think we are much more comfortable now then a few weeks ago. There is a lot that we do and we want our players to be intellectually stimulated in what we do and they need to get fascinated with all the little things of this game. I was really pleased in the last couple of weeks with not just their approach to practice, but there fascination with the game and trying to learn the game. I have a great coaching staff and they are great teachers and we need to use that to our advantage.
Comments on where he wants his team to be:
I think a lot of it has to do with the execution. One of the things about spring practice is that it is all about evaluation and identifying who the players are and what they can do and can't do. You have to mix and match the players so that they are going up against different people and working with different people. We got done as a staff what needed to get done, in terms of evaluating guys in different groups and with different people. We feel like we have a pure evaluation of each player on this team.
Comments on defense's performance:
When everybody is out there I think this defense will be very good. It is a fast defense and they are comfortable within the scheme. I think some of it had to do with the scoring format and the way this thing played out and sometimes if you are not changing field positions it gets difficult. The first offense didn't change field position and the second offense didn't score and all of sudden you are back on the 2-yard line. That is what happens in ball games, but in the same sense it is difficult for the offense to get going because they had to play a conservative style based on the scoring system. They couldn't be aggressive in relation to a three-and-out to give up points. It is a function of the game and I think it is a function of our defense has performed well. I think a little bit of it is because our defense does a lot of different things. I think the offensive kids settled down as the game went along because they started figuring out what the defense was doing today and that made it easier to figure out what the defense's plan was. That is hard on both sides of the football because you aren't sure what you are going to see.