Friday, November 12, 2004

Tulane versus Army- Preview

Ah.... New Orleans! Is there anything like the Crescent City, crackling with excitement at the prospect of a Tulane home game? Even the Skull seems "white-er" today.

Anyway, the New York Post, the official guide to Prediction Thursday, has Tulane -6 over the Cadets. That is the first time the Wave has been favored this year against an I-A opponent- a sobering thought to anyone who thinks our kids are underachieving at three wins so far. However, at 6-1 ATS, I am certainly overachieving.

Army is, by far, the worst I-A team the Wave has faced this year- perhaps evidenced by the fact the Wave is 8.5 points better in Vegas here than they were versus the Pirates (+2.5 versus -6) - who were pretty awful too. That is a big difference.

Army features an admittedly outstanding back, Jones, who averages somewhere north of 130 yards per game and is headed for certain all C-USA selection. Those of you who think Forte is a “strong runner” ought to check this guy out carefully- and see what a "strong runner" looks like. Unfortunately for the cadets, there is hardly anything else. Army does have a talented wide out or two, and while I am convinced our secondary couldn’t cover, say, Frank Scelfo, the Cadets get absolutely nothing out of the quarterback position. None of the three they have tried can rush or pass- an astonishing trifecta of incompetence. If Nick Cannon had ever considered a career serving his country, here is one place where he’d start tomorrow.

Tulane will attack them much like the Wave did Navy- and everyone did to Tulane in September. Our re-invigorated front seven will stack the box; I bet we don’t play nickel at all on second down tomorrow. And I bet Army’s quarterbacking cannot take advantage.

Even better, Army is horrific on defense- just horrendous- and worse on the road. For once, the other coach is faced with Scelfo’s traditional dilemma: how do my kids score the 40 points I need- just to be in this contest? The Cadets cannot stop either the run or pass- and have only held one opponent under 28 all year (none under 35 on the road). Ricard will be able to stand back there forever and throw to receivers Army has literally no hope of covering. The Cadets are brutal against the run too- but I am not sure Scelfo wants to give Forte a 25-carry kind of day yet. So I imagine Tulane will put it up all day. Roydell, seriously, might go for somewhere near 150 yards. The only way Army can keep us to a manageable total is if Ricard turns it over a bunch of times- which is also probably the only way Tulane can lose here.

As you can guess, I simply love the Wave tomorrow. Again, short of a bunch of turnovers, I don’t think Army is really even in this. They probably can't score the requisite 28 points they need to be in this thing. I was a little surprised at the line too- I am not sure if observers have caught up with two facts. One, Tulane’s offense is increasingly capable of huge point totals when the quarterback plays well, particularly against teams that cannot cover our receivers. Two, the front seven on defense has shown more than a little life two weeks in a row.

Of course, the events of this weekend pale in comparison to the real fight taking place overseas. God bless our Marines, Soldiers and Airmen. My pick: I love the Marines, on the road, over the Fallujah thugs. And bravo to the Cadets on the field this Saturday who will be moving on to much more important things shortly.