September 12, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) For a second straight week, LSU coach Les Miles is looking for the right message to keep his 10th-ranked Tigers sharp against a heavy underdog.

That's a somewhat easier task this week, thanks to the recent history of Louisiana-Monroe.

ULM, which plays in the Sun Belt Conference, has demonstrated that it'll knock off teams from power conferences from time to time.

The Warhawks beat Alabama in 2007, tripped up Arkansas in 2012 and nearly did the same to Auburn in overtime that season. They beat Wake Forest last season and again this season. They're also 2-0 now as coach Todd Berry, who led the Warhawks to their first bowl two seasons ago, looks to make his fifth season at ULM his best yet.

''Todd Berry is doing a great job there. They are athletic. They are very capable,'' Miles said as he made note of ULM's recent success against major-conference teams. ''We are so warned and we recognize and respect that opponent.''

Oddmakers have listed LSU (2-0) as a more than four-touchdown favorite. LSU won 56-0 last weekend against Sam Houston State, widely regarded as one of the better teams in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

After seeing that kind of dominance from LSU, Berry is on one hand eager to see how his team handles a game in Death Valley, but also keenly aware of the challenge that looms.

''I am encouraged by what has happened and where we are at, and now we need to continue to move forward against a team this week that is just tremendously talented in LSU. They are big. They are powerful. They are physical. They have great speed at the skill positions,'' Berry said. ''I think their athletic budget is 10 times greater than ours. They have five-star guys; we have two-star guys. You look at all the stuff that's out there and say 32-point underdogs - all that doesn't sound good, but our guys have been in environments like this before, and we will show up and we'll play.''


Here are some things to know about LSU's match-up with ULM:

FIELDING FRESHMEN: LSU has played 16 true freshmen through its first two games and could very well look to continue developing those players against ULM,. Last weekend, four freshmen scored touchdowns, LSU's top two rushers - Leonard Fournette and Darrel Williams - were freshmen, while freshmen on defense accounted for two sacks and 17 tackles.

SEC NEOPHYTE: Louisiana-Monroe QB Pete Thomas, who passed for 384 yards and two scores against Idaho last weekend, has never faced an SEC team. That's despite getting his share of playing time at two other Football Bowl Subdivision schools prior to transferring to ULM as a graduate student. Thomas started his career at Colorado State, then transferred after two seasons to North Carolina State, where he played last season. He'll get two more SEC foes after LSU. ULM also meets Kentucky and Texas A&M this season.

TAKING SHOTS: While LSU is running the ball on more than two-thirds of its offensive plays, the Tigers have gained more yardage and scored more TDs through the air. Much of that can be traced to the connection between sophomore QB Anthony Jennings and redshirt sophomore receiver Travin Dural, who've connected six times for 291 yards and four scores, including TDs of 94 and 80 yards. Through two games, LSU has passed for 486 yards and six TDs, while rushing for 460 yards and five TDs.

PASS RUSH: ULM's pass rush looks vastly improved this season. The Warhawks have 10 sacks through two games. They had 16 all of last season. Linebacker Ray Stovall has a team-leading 2 1/2 sacks, while cornerback Lenzy Pipkins and defensive end Jacob Tyson each have two apiece.

YOUNG GUNS: Of LSU's 11 TDs, nine have been scored by freshmen and sophomores, with the other two being scored by senior running back Kenny Hilliard. The rest of LSU's TDs have been scored by Dural (4); freshman running backs Fournette (1) and Williams (1); freshmen receivers John Diarse (1) and Malachi Dupre (1); and freshman QB Brandon Harris (1).

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