Louisiana-Monroe didn’t have the easiest Schedule last year, but giving up 41 points per Game isn’t good no matter who you play. If the Warhawks want to improve last year’s 4-8 record, they’ll need a little more from the defense. The bookmakers have them on the edge of a bowl with an over/under of 5.5 wins and +1200 odds to win the Sun Belt, Fourth-best at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
The offense is the standout group on this team and has a chance to better 2017’s mark of 33.9 points per Game. Quarterback Caleb Evans was electric at times, throwing for 8.34 yards per attempt and only six interceptions, while going for 30 total touchdowns (13 rushing). With almost everyone returning around him, the Warhawks could be one of the Sun Belt’s best on this end. In addition to Evans running the ball (579 yards), Alabama transfer Derrick Gore (585 yards, 6 TDs) is still around to see most of the carries. Wide receiver is set with playmaker Marcus Green (829 yards, 5 TDs) and fellow top wide out RJ Turner (704 yards, 6 TDs) still there. Throw in Four returning starters on the line, all juniors, and the offense could be pretty dynamic in Matt Viator’s third season as head coach.
The defense is the area that needs to turn around after finishing close to last in the nation in nearly every category from points (41) to yards (532). Something needs to change with the group and expecting improvement just because six starters return won’t cut it. Top linebacker David Griffith (76 tackles) will again run the unit with Chase Day alongside him. Three starters return on the line that couldn’t stop anyone last year and while the secondary has a few seniors, most of them lack size even though this year’s corners played safety last season. Maybe the best player on the back end is safety Wesley Thompson, who had 67 tackles last year.
The Warhawks are expected to be Arkansas State’s biggest competition in the West division, but easier said than done if the defense continues to struggle. The good news is that they should at least get one non-Conference win in the opener, while the other three can be chalked up as losses unless they find a way to upend Southern Miss. Getting to a bowl Game could require five Conference wins, which isn’t impossible with only a couple teams hands-down better than the rest. If they lose the Troy and Ark. State Games, there are six possibilities for wins with the other three road Games being winnable. Taking the over on the Warhawks requires you to trust one of the worst defenses in the country. The offense could be great, but if the defense doesn’t take any steps forward, anything more than six wins may be asking too much.
2018 Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks Football Schedule
Aug. 30 vs. Southeast Louisiana
Sept. 8 at Southern Miss
Sept. 15 at Texas A&M
Sept. 22 vs. Troy
Sept. 29 at Georgia State
Oct. 6 at Ole Miss
Oct. 13 at Coastal Carolina
Oct. 20 vs. Texas State
Nov. 3 vs. Georgia Southern
Nov. 10 at South Alabama
Nov. 17 at Arkansas State
Nov. 24 vs. Louisiana