Louisiana-Monroe head coach Todd Berry dismissed receiver Colby Harper from the program this week for violating team rules. With the amount of returning starters the Warhawks have on offense, Harper's absence should easily be absorbed but its still one less weapon in the arsenal .
One thing is for sure, ULM is excited to play against the Sooners on Saturday night and are not backing away from a fight. Listening to Coach Berry's description of Oklahoma, his team's game plan seems to be aimed at forcing the OU youngsters to make mistakes.
"This is team that's obviously very athletic. It's not as mature of a team as what they had last year, but that brings up the other problems you have in first games." - Todd Berry
Of course the flip-side of that is not knowing what to expect from young talent that you've never seen before. The Warhawks will need to move the ball and defend against a bunch of new Oklahoma players on each side of the ball.
"We are trying to cover everything they could possibly cover right now. With a new quarterback there, this group is a bit more athletic than Landry Jones was, and we knew we would see a different style of transition in play. I'm sure that they're not going to abandon their offense from the past because it's been so exceptional, but the reality is we're dealing with a different Oklahoma team than what we would have last year." - Todd Berry
The story in the Big Twelve this last week was Oklahoma naming Trevor Knight as the starting quarterback. Berry and his staff have the opportunity of being the first team to defend the new era of offensive football at Oklahoma and they know the challenge that they face.
"He (Knight) does everything pretty well. His ball placement is excellent. The thing that he has, based on his high school video anyway--there are things I can't coach. There are things that Kolton does and I had no part in it. There's that judgment in the game that we can't make them understand better how to step up in the pocket or where to place the ball. We can't teach them to feel the pressure. We can't give them that sense of timing. I stand back with the quarterbacks in practice, much to their chagrin, saying ‘now' because that's when I would throw the ball. It's mostly to get the younger ones a feeling of when that ball needs to be thrown but the good quarterbacks already know that. Knight has all those things." - Todd Berry
Berry wasn't the only person to meet with the media this week. Wide receiver Je'Ron Hamm (62 receptions/952 yards in 2013) spoke about the significance of this game to the Warhawks.
"It's a big game for us. We're looking forward to competing against top-tier opponents at this point in time. I feel like win or lose, it doesn't change anything. We are all about 1-0 each week and we are focused on that opponent, but it would definitely be a big momentum swing for us if we win."