After 28 years in coaching, Todd Berry isn't yet a marquee name. But if he continues to make noise at Louisiana-Monroe, the job could be a springboard to greener pastures. Last year, in his first season at ULM, with a team full of freshman and sophs and a redshirt freshman QB, Berry motivated the Warhawks to play beyond what fans, media and opponents expected. Look for nothing less when he brings ULM to Doak on Sept. 3.
In part one of our interview, Berry -- who played QB at Tulsa and has been an offensive coordinator -- talks about his maturing signal caller, Kolton Browning, College Football News' 2010 freshman QB of the year.
Kolton Browning was an unknown coming into last season. But he's definitely on the radar for 2011.
Berry: "He kind of took us all by surprise last year. Last spring (2010) he was in a battle with two other quarterbacks, one in particular was the returning starter. And that young man, Trey Revell, was on the Johnny Unitas list going into the season. Then pre-season camp is when Browning emerged and we saw the things we needed to see him do. We started off slow with him. Probably about the Auburn game, even though his numbers weren't spectacular, I think that game was his coming out party -- the first time we put a significant amount of pressure on him, in terms of really, truly running the offense.
"He did play hurt some last year. About the sixth or seventh game of the season he had a fracture in his foot, and he kind of kept on fighting through it, playing throughout the year, except for the LSU game, where he missed the majority of it. But we're excited about him this year."
Did you see him make a lot of progress in the spring?
Berry: "I did. I think that was true for our whole football team. I think the game really slowed down for Kolton. Obviously the offense was brand new to him last year. And this spring you saw that poise and that calmness, and all those things you like to see your quarterback do. He demonstrated some of that last year in adverse situations, in terms of down and distance or time. So we knew he had it in him.
"And this spring with all the receivers back, you saw this real comfort level for both. The quarterback knew where the receiver was going to be, the receiver recognized the coverage and knew the timing when he was going to get the ball based on the coverage. So things kinda started clicking for us this spring."
You've probably watched plenty of film on FSU last season. How would you compare Browning to Christian Ponder?
Berry: "There are an awful lot of similarities. I think watching video of Christian -- and we've already watched a significant amount -- he was a great competitor. And when you have a great competitor at quarterback, there's a certain leadership that evolves from that. And this young man, Kolton Browning, is a great competitor and a leader. Last year our team elected him a team captain, and that was as a redshirt freshman. So he's got tremendous respect from teammates. Plus, he has a great work ethic, too."