ULL, ULM head into 2013 with high expectations

Published 6:14 pm Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In 2010, Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette finished a combined 8-16 and the chances of either being a Sun Belt Conference title contenders didn’t look good.

Enter Mark Hudspeth and Kolton Browning.

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Hudspeth took over a 3-9 ULL team and has since won two consecutive R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowls. Browning, ULM’s mobile gunslinger from Mabank, Texas, helped the Warhawks to an 8-5 record last season.

Entering 2013, the two programs have received high praise and have high expectations.

Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe received 57 points each to tie for first in the Preseason Sun Belt Conference Coaches poll.

“We los a lot of starters on the defensive side of the football so I didn’t know exactly where that would put us. Everyone’s a competitor and wants to be first at the beginning, in the middle but most importantly in the end,” Hudspeth said.

“There are a lot of good teams in this conference, its a deep conference. I don’t think there is one team that you can roll in to their stadium or they come to your place and you can count it as a win.”

Browning, who was voted the Sun Belt’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, said that Louisiana-Monroe’s loss to Ohio in the 2012 AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl hasn’t been completely laid to rest.

“We left last year with a bad taste in our mouth, losing the way we did,” he said. “Everyone has taken the inititive this season to get in the weight room and the film room, we’re ready for the season to open, ready to get started.”

Browning threw for 3,049 yards and rushed for another 488 leading the team in both categories. He was named Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year while earning Second Team Sun Belt honors.

Browning’s offensive teammates wide receiver Je’Ron Hamm and offensive lineman Josh Allen were also named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt team. Defensively, lineman Kentarius Caldwell and defensive back Isaiah Newsome landed on the list.

ULL won its second consecutive bowl game with a 43-34 victory over East Carolina in the New Orleans Bowl. The Ragin’ Cajuns return junior quarterback Terrance Broadway who was pushed into the starting role after injuries. After starting nine game, Broadway set the ULL single-season record for completion percentage (.654).

Louisiana-Lafayette had three players named to the All-Sun Belt list in offensive lineman Andre Huval, defensive lineman Christian Ringo and linebacker Justin Anderson.

Hudspeth feels that even though it’s nice for his team to be respected entering the season, he doesn’t completely trust the preseason rankings.

“It’s a very deep league with a lot of good football teams. If you look at the past, the thing that concerns me is that people haven’t done a very good job of picking the champions,” he said.