War Eagle Extra

Auburn won’t ‘overlook’ ULM this weekend at Jordan-Hare Stadium

ULM is concerned about slowing down Carl Lawson, pictured rushing the passer on Sept. 24, 2016 against LSU, this weekend.
ULM is concerned about slowing down Carl Lawson, pictured rushing the passer on Sept. 24, 2016 against LSU, this weekend. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn quickly turned the page on its most recent last-second miracle.

It started with Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele gathering the defense Sunday afternoon before practice.

“The big challenge for us this week is they are going to walk around and everybody is going to tell them what a great job they did,” Steele said. “We had to get them in the room today and make sure they understand we aren’t changing as coaches. We are going to do it the same way — here is what you did wrong, here is what we got to improve and here is where we have to get better.”

Auburn’s overwhelming success in the series — the team has hosted and won all 10 meetings between the schools with an average margin of victory of 35 points — is something coaches are urging players to ignore.

While ULM (1-2; 0-1 Sun Belt) has struggled at Jordan-Hare Stadium, the program has a history of beating power five teams.

The Warhawks went three straight seasons (2012-14) with at least one win over a power five team, including a win over then No. 8 Arkansas in 2012. The Tigers 31-28 overtime win in 2012 over ULM was the closest game in the series.

“They’re no stranger to taking down SEC teams,” Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said. “They’ve done it before. The message to our guys this week in practice has been pretty good. It’s just been, ‘We got a good win, aside from the details of red zone and finishing drives, but we need to build momentum.’ We need to play well. We have to play better this week than we played last week.”

It’s a similar message powering the defense this week.

“A lot of people I think overlook games,” Auburn safety Nick Ruffin said. “They may not be Top 25, but they’re still Division 1 and they’re still a good team. We have to continue to prepare. Prepare better. Find the things we’ve done wrong and correct those.”

ULM has a new coach this season in Matt Viator. Viator, who was hired to replace Todd Berry, spent the previous 10 seasons at McNeese State where he went 78-33 winning four conference championships.

“They’re much better than they were last year,” Lashlee said. “You can tell with the new staff that they’re very sound.”

ULM’s defense has struggled this season giving up 34.3 points and 477.7 yard per game, but Lashlee expects the Warhawks to be aggressive despite their struggles.

“They probably pressure almost 50 percent of the time—I think it’s 46 percent, which is extremely high,” Lashlee said. “So they try to be very disruptive with their pressures.”

Viator said slowing down Auburn’s offense will be a “tough task” this week in his weekly press conference, but he sounded more concerned about containing the Tigers’ defensive front.

“Their defensive line is phenomenal and very athletic,” Viator said. “Their two guys inside are, whatever they are, 310 pounds apiece and really good players. Lawson’s a big-time player coming off the edge, which we’ve certainly got to be conscience of. I think that’s the strength of what they’re doing.”

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra