Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Quarterback U.

Sigh... the QB situation. Clearly it is the most pressing conundrum at Tulane.

First, I admit that I think Tulane’s two biggest problems are a complete inability to generate things other than turnovers from the QB position- and a pressing need to keep our defense off the field by generating more first downs/time of possession. Since I think both of these problems stem largely from the quarterback, and I think the wrong QB is playing, there is a certain comfort in knowing that the “Irvin experiment” is coming and things will only get better.

That being said, when Ricard was named the starter, I was totally okay with it. Totally. I saw no problem with the theory that Ricard should start due to his superior physical potential- and still don’t.

I posted at the time that Ricard should start until the team lost six games (and thus could no longer go to a Bowl) or they lost to A&M, ECU, or Army- a loss after which one could not realistically think they could get to six wins. You owe your football team every chance to get to the post-season- with the players you most think can help you win that Saturday- before you start wholesale experimentation with the “future”.

Consequently, I think Ricard should start two weeks from now at ECU. Period.

That being said, I must admit I never thought he would struggle so much. Six completions? 55 yards passing? Three turnovers?

So while I would start him, I would shift the approach in two ways. First, Scelfo clearly has been content to play Ricard until the game is out of hand. I would change that. If after twenty/thirty minutes against the Pirates, he has similar poor numbers- I would be okay if Scelfo went and got him. Start him again the following week against Memphis- but this is ultimately a spread offense- and you need more than alarming play from the quarterback. At this point, you have to begin to look at your options. You might not agree with my assessment of Irvin- but I cannot imagine he could possibly be worse under center right now.

Second, again this is a spread offense. Its best players are the wideouts and tight ends. Jovon is a better RB in spread sets than a “power” rusher between the tackles. The OL was recruited here as a mobile, pass protection first, get out on the screens unit- not a collection of bludgeoners. Accordingly, you must throw the ball more than fifteen times. You have to find ways to get the ball to those good wideouts and tight ends. A future 2005-6 eight-win team will not be predicated on the offense we ran Saturday. It can’t be. If Scelfo doesn’t think Ricard can throw the ball thirty times a game, then we need to confirm that now. What worried me about our approach in the USM game was that the coach seemed to telegraph he had lost confidence in his pass-first approach and quarterback. He has four on the roster; he ought to have confidence in one, right? So let Ricard play quarterback.