Continuing our conversation with Louisiana Monroe head coach Todd Berry, we asked what kind of game he thinks we'll see when the Warhawks come to Doak on September 3, and if there might be an intimidation factor against a team picked to finish in the top ten.
Berry: "We played against LSU. We played against Auburn. And we played against Arkansas. Twenty-five percent of our schedule (last year) was against the top eight in the country. So I think we respect everyone, but I don't think there's a fear level with anybody we play, because we're kind of used to playing those games in big environments. And with our maturity and Florida State's, with all the players they have coming back, I think you'll see a pretty well played game. You know, a lot of those opening games tend to be flag feasts -- offsides here and this guy hitting somebody out of bounds. But with both of us having mature teams, I think you'll also see a pretty clean game."
You have a lot more film on Jimbo's offense than he has of yours in just one year at ULM. Does that give you some kind of advantage?
Berry: "Rick Trickett and I coached together and are good friends. Rick's ability to coach the run game has always separated his offensive lines from others around the country. I've never worked with Jimbo, but certainly had a tremendous amount of respect for what he's done. I've studied him over the years as I do all really good offensive coordinators. But I've been around for awhile and you can get too much into some of those kinds of things (guessing what the other team will do). So I'm sure he'll have his surprises. Certainly we'll have our surprises. And because we have so many of our guys coming back, we actually have the full component of our offense in now."
In 2007 ULM beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Do you use that as a motivational tool with your current players?
Berry: "We haven't talked a lot about it, because there aren't many guys left , even on last year's team, who played a significant role in that game. There's an awful lot of pictures that are up in our facilities, and the young people still hear about that game. Now Alabama was 6 and 6 that year. But it's still Alabama, and against all those teams we're going to play out of conference, that still gives us hope -- and hope is a powerful thing.
I believe you both coached and played against FSU, right?
Berry: "I coached against Florida State with Oklahoma State in the Gator Bowl (1985). And I played there in 1980 when I was at the University of Tulsa. It was something like 14 to 2 at the half. At the time Florida State was, I think, number three in the nation. And as we came back out on the field, they announced that the number two team got beat, and the number one team got beat. And I remember the crowd just going crazy. Then they seemed to hit another gear and the final score was like 45 to 2. So we certainly have a tremendous amount of respect for all that program has stood for. I knew Coach Bowden well. I knew Mark Richt, and we discussed offensive football over a number of years. And when I first got my job at Illinois State, I brought my whole staff down and watched Florida State practice."
Comments? Questions? Kudos?