AUBURN - When Auburn last saw Louisiana-Monroe quarterback Kolton Browning he was a freshman on the bad end of 52-3 beating on Oct. 2, 2010. Even on that day, Browning completed 25-of-33 passes for 203 yards. He and the Warhawks will return to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday under a far different set of circumstances.
ULM quarterback Kolton Browning sacked by Auburn DT Nick Fairley in 2010/Todd Van Emst photo
Auburn is reeling after opening the season with back-to-back losses to Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta and at Mississippi State. ULM has been the toast of college football for the past week after shocking Arkansas 34-31 in Little Rock.
Browning completed 42-of-67 passes for 412 yards and rushed 16 times for 69 yards as ULM kept the ball for an eye-popping 103 plays. Browning ran 16 yards for the winning touchdown in overtime.
"This was not a fluke," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. "This is a good football team. They were down at one point in the game 21 points and came back and were able to take it to overtime and two other times they left the ball in the red zone, once right before the half, and they didn’t score. They had their opportunities even before it got to overtime. That’s just the reality of the game.
"It’s going to be a very big challenge for us, and I think our guys are going to be ready for it. We’ll be up for it and ready to go.”
For Louisiana-Monroe, trips to Little Rock and Auburn were scheduled with money in mind. The payout for playing Arkansas was $950,000. The payout for playing Auburn will be $1,050,000. Those two games will provide more than 2/3 of ULM's football budget, $3.1 million in 2011.
Auburn's football budget in 2011 was $39 million. Arkansas' was $24.5 million.
Junior backup quarterback Clint Moseley's sore shoulder that limited his work during preseason camp isn't back to 100 percent, Chizik said, but he said Moseley could play if needed.
“I think his shoulder has made some progress here in the last few weeks," Chizik said. "I don’t think there is any question about that. To say that it is 100 percent, I don’t know that I can say that, but I would feel confident that if he had to go into the game, it wouldn’t be an issue.”
Auburn went through a spirited practice in full pads Tuesday, one that left players and coaches encouraged.
"It was a different tempo," wide receiver Travante Stallworth said. "I thought it was a great practice."
Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler agreed.
"It was excellent," Loeffler said. "We made some strides tonight."
Quarterback Kiehl Frazier overstated his problems, Chizik said, when he said he made mistakes on 75 percent of his plays against Mississippi State.
"I wouldn’t say that that’s accurate," Chizik said. "I would say that’s a young guy putting a lot of pressure on himself and wanting to shoulder a lot of the blame because he feels like he can play better. I can assure you there were a lot of guys out there who made a lot of mistakes. It wasn’t just Kiehl Frazier."
Junior kicker Cody Parkey is off to a blazing start. Parkey is 5-for-5 on field goals. The only kickoffs that have not gone for touchback are those that have intentionally been kicked short of the goal line.
“I am kicking the ball pretty well on field goals and kickoffs,” Parkey said. “Obviously, there is still room for improvement. It is kind of bittersweet because we haven’t been playing good as a whole.
“We are 0-2, obviously, but I don’t feel like we are an 0-2 team. We are going to bounce back. I just have to keep making kicks to help us win.”