With just three games remaining on its 2015 schedule, ULM didn’t wait until the end of the season to part ways with head coach Todd Berry. School officials announced Berry’s firing on Saturday, following ULM’s 59-21 loss to Arkansas State, the Warhawks’ ninth of the season. Defensive coordinator John Mumford was tabbed to replace Berry as interim head coach, a role Mumford's played twice in his coaching career. He served in the same capacity when Berry was fired as Army's coach six games into the 2003 season.
Texas State head coach Dennis Franchione, who has been the lead man at TCU, Alabama and Texas A&M, is now in his second stint with the Bobcats. He also coached in San Marcos, Texas, back in 1990-91 when the school was known as Southwest Texas State. This year's team is just 2-7 following a 41-19 loss to Georgia State last week.
With a combined three wins between them, both teams meet Thursday evening in Central Texas for a Sun Belt matchup in front of a nationally televised EPSNU audience. ULM hasn’t won since Sept. 12, while Texas State’s last victory came back on Oct. 24. The Warhawks hold an 8-3 series advantage, but Texas State won last year's meeting in Monroe, La., by a score of 22-18.
ULM at Texas State
Kickoff: 9:30 p.m. ET (Thursday)
Spread: ULM +7
Three Things to Watch
1. ULM QB Earnest Carrington
The Warhawks took a hit at quarterback last Saturday when starter Garrett Smith left the game with a shoulder injury that was later diagnosed as an AC sprain. Smith has passed for 2,033 yards and 17 touchdowns through 10 games.
Backup quarterback Earnest Carrington replaced Smith, but struggled in relief duty, as he connected on just five of his 19 attempts. And although he accounted for two touchdowns (one rushing, one passing), he also threw three interceptions. On the year, Carrington is 8-for-26 for 79 yards, one TD and four INTs.
Carrington draws a favorable matchup against a shaky Texas State defense that didn’t record an interception until last week when it snagged two against Georgia State.
2. ULM interim head coach John Mumford
The Warhawks defensive coordinator joined Todd Berry’s staff in 2014 after a 14-year stop at Army. Mumford brings continuity to a program in transition, as he and Berry served on the same coaching staff in the early 2000s when Berry was Army's head coach from 2000-03.
As a head coach, Mumford compiled a 40-70 record from 1990-99 at Southeast Missouri State, and was the 1994 Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year.
ULM has been plagued by injuries to a number of key players this season and Mumford’s coaching mettle will be tested as he attempts to stabilize the program through these last few games.
3. Texas State S Damani Alexcee
Heading into last week’s contest against Georgia State, Alexcee had tallied 47 solo tackles, which ranked second in the Sun Belt. The junior safety had just five stops against the Panthers last Saturday – his second-lowest output of the season. For the season, Alexcee has been credited with 70 total tackles.
Alexcee has broken the double-digit tackle mark on three occasions this season, to go along with two sacks and three pass deflections. While the Texas State defense as a whole has struggled, Alexcee hasn’t. And against an unexperienced Carrington, he could further add to the Bobcats’ interception total by the end of the evening.
Interim head coach John Mumford will lead an ailing ULM team into Bobcat Stadium on Thursday in search of its first win in more than two months and second overall on the season. The Warhawks do have some favorable matchups following this one, as ULM travels to Hawaii (2-9) on Nov. 28 and hosts New Mexico State (2-7) on Dec. 5 to close the season.
With just two wins this season, Franchione, who ranks third behind Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech) and Brian Kelly (Notre Dame) in wins by active FBS coaches, has not been able to follow up on the success of last season's 7-5 (but no bowl invite) showing.
The Bobcats definitely are not going bowling this season, but they should coast to their third win of the season Thursday night.
Prediction: Texas State 31, ULM 14
— Written by Elton Hayes, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. A Washington, D.C.-based sports writer, Hayes is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and he also has been an invited guest on “The Paul Finebaum Show.” Follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.