Thursday, October 14, 2004

Tulane @ Memphis Preview

Due to long-standing tradition, it is "Prediction Thursday".

Other than the enormous number, there is not much to recommend Tulane +23.5 over Memphis. I cannot remember being so pessimistic about the Wave’s chances against a team that was not a Texas-style college football power.

Memphis beat the Wave horribly last year- and I imagine they will again this year. While our defensive front seven is better than 2003, they are not improved enough to handle this attack. The Tigers ought to be able to run the ball well- and worse, unlike USM, have a quarterback who should to be able to exploit that fact.

We’re talking a 450+ yards of offense and “hang a number of Memphis’ choosing” on the scoreboard kind of day. Forty points? Fifty? Only Memphis coach Tommy West knows. Consequently, I know that DeAngelo Williams has a great chance at a second straight C-USA player of the week award. Don’t forget, the Wave defense will be spending the entire game on the field too.

As bad as that is, the worse part is that Tulane will be hard pressed to match the nine points they scored last year. The Wave didn’t rush the ball well when ECU stacked the line of scrimmage. I shudder to think how Jovon will run it with Memphis stacking it. Obviously, our passing attack is... well you pick the word(s). I like “ruinous”. Or “Prone to Unpleasant Turnovers”.

With this big a spread, you are getting a kind of acknowledgment from Vegas that this game is less an exercise in competitiveness and more an exercise in a psychology of sorts. I mean, if you think that Memphis will relax enough and Scelfo will keep throwing, trying to score down 30 points, to get a garbage time score.... Put it this way- if the Wave can get to, say 17, you’re getting a whole lot of points. Memphis would have to score six touchdowns or so to cover.
Since I think Tulane will neither score ten nor prevent Memphis from scoring six times, I am trying to run my record to 4-0 by taking the Tigers and giving Tulane the points.

Given that I don’t think is a real football game per se, we are kind of reduced to seeing what we can take out of this effort:

• I’d like to see the Wave play a competitive half on the defensive front. I can’t see them not wearing down in a big way- but I’d like to see the linemen, particularly the young ones, dig in and compete. This is a great chance to play everyone up front- see what you’ve got.

• On offense, I cannot imagine any of the quarterbacks having anything other than a pathetic day- but again, the line blocked USM pretty well for stretches. I don’t think we’ll be able to run it a lick here with eight guys in the box all day- but maybe they can protect the passer a little? Make some plays on third down and long?

• Play a tight game on the special teams- make the kicks, cover the kicks, and return the kicks. I think the specials might be the key to stealing a game later this year- and after a pretty strong 2003 they are, other than the punter, back to being indifferent or bad (the actual place kicking)