Monday, August 23, 2004

Tulane Final Fall Scrimmage

The Blog rocks lately. There is just so, so much fury. May I gently recommend a prayer I say daily before all Tulane football games? Pan down to the “Victory Litany”; it gives me great comfort:

I thought the scrimmage was a pretty tight affair in spite of less than ideal conditions. And yes, that was me hollering afterwards- offering $100 from anyone with valid quarterbacking credentials. I left a little more optimistic about the season than when I arrived.

For one thing, they are a whole lot more healthy than last year- when everyone on the defense got hurt seemingly simultaneously. At one point, didn’t we have a wide-out playing DE? The front seven played remarkably well in both scrimmages, there is more depth on the defensive line, and Cannon must really have been nursing some hurts last year- because he is just super at linebacker right now. He smacks people. You might be able to run right at him a little, but if he gets those feet moving side to side, I recommend getting out of bounds. He’s also the sort of linebacker that you can leave on the field 2nd and long, 3rd and long. If you were a student of the Wave defense last year, you remember how teams used run on us in our nickel like crazy. Not that we were in the nickel that much due to out total inability to stop the run on first down- but you get the point. Anyway, last year we had both the worst linebacking and front seven in C-USA outside of Army and maybe ECU- they ought to be better here- say up from “really horrible” to “might stop people for a half.”

The offensive line was mixed at best. They pass-protected pretty well, but it is not like we run many plays that require our QBs to take deep drops and stay there. I don’t think there was a true sack. The run blocking is a problem, but this is a line that is never going to move people. We need to throw the ball effectively to back those safeties up. But you take away the one big run, mix it with our less than distinguished backfield- and there is a potential for problems. Particularly since:

- the two super athletes we feature at QB couldn’t run a lick again (Irvin, that $!#&^* slowpoke, STILL has the longest run from scrimmage)

- more importantly, I cannot remember Jovon catching a single ball?

That might be wrong- but I really wonder about that part of his game. Tuyo had a nice run and a nice catch. They threw the ball to Forte twice- and he caught it both times. Okay, we all know I think he’s not an answer, today, as a rusher- but in an offense where I think a dirty secret is that the coach’s think the top back cannot catch the football- it might get him on the field some. Anyway, our OL is largely the same collection of guys from last year, and there is no doubt they competed pretty well the last three games last year. If they are healthy, they’ll be more than okay.

I don’t really know what to say about the QBs. I like Irvin- not because he’s demonstrably better in any sense- but the fact he’s largely “even” with his peers despite considerably less experience. It suggests to me you have got to give him a the first chance to grow into the job. He was the only QB to make multiple throws down the field successfully- and had a couple of balls dropped. Take away Cannon and Ricard’s best throw- and their passing yards were largely a collection of pretty easy throws for a QB in Scelfo’s offense. I was talking to some guy (Stan??) I’d seen at some of the practices- and he opined that Ricard has been the best since camp started- but Irvin has been the best over the past three-four days. I am inclined to agree with that assessment.

Scelfo says he’s going to drop one of the three shortly. It is not going to be Ricard- if you look at playing time yesterday, he seems the favorite to emerge. I think you could drop Irvin- as he will be easier to re-introduce into the mix later should conditions warrant. Like I posted earlier, I think the mix for QB today is a toss up- but if you want to introduce a new QB in Game Eight for whatever reason, it has to be Irvin.

I just think if you drop Cannon- it means his career here could be over, right? And I can’t believe Scelfo wants to do that yet with a young man who by all accounts seems super- and has talent.

Last thing- that Fred Smith is the greatest thing ever. Period. Watching him settle under punts (okay after he catches it), you feel your heart soar. If he played at LSU, he’d be their returner tomorrow.