Monday, November 08, 2004

Tulane vs. Navy Recap

Obviously, this was the most complete effort from the Wave this year. However, I am not altogether sure that if you break it down, the results are, while surprising, perhaps not unusual. Let's start with three points.

First, to me, the singular fact of the Tulane season so far is that our offense is pretty damn good when the quarterback is not an overwhelming minus. For example, I love the “professionalism” of Jovon- the guy clearly has holes in his game- for one thing he plays in a spread offense and the coach won’t throw him the ball- but Jovon gets every single ounce of production out of his ability. Our wideouts would not be embarrassed at major SEC programs. The offensive line pass protects well and run blocks adequately- particularly in light of the fact that until two weeks ago teams stuffed the run against Tulane like crazy. Scelfo might disappoint you in many ways- but no one can seriously doubt the guy can coach offensive “x’s & o’s”. Outside of the quarterback, Tulane’s skill players simply do not turn it over much. Every single time Ricard isn’t crippling bad, Tulane has hung up a pretty impressive number.

Second, it is hard to argue against the proposition that our front seven on defense has found another gear in the last seven quarters of play. It got largely ignored amidst the kind of bad loss atmosphere post-Houston, but the defensive line and linebackers now have seven straight quarters of not just “average”, but “pretty darn good”. Our secondary has under-achieved this year, but Navy does not throw the ball often or well enough to hurt teams there- unless they can run the ball effectively.

Plus, was it my imagination, or did Tulane get after people Saturday? Was the Wave bringing wood or what? Again, "nasty" and "mean" were words that came to mind while watching. Frankly, this Navy team went large stretches where it simply did not compete physically. Particularly the Navy offense was clearly down on itself- as it became increasingly obvious Tulane had their number- and turtled a bit. In fact, was I the Navy coach, I think I might have to call the team captain’s out?

Seriously, was anyone impressed at all with Navy’s physical effort? How can you let a two touchdown 'dog literally push you around? Play chippy to the whistle? And act nasty after it? I loved it. And I thought, frankly, Navy's effort was a little embarrassing. That is what defensive physical play does for you- it takes the "want to" out of the other team- and replaces it with "start the bus". And about twenty minutes in, Navy had a huge case of “start the bus” Saturday. I wouldn't want to be at Navy's practices this week. If I am right, it will be ugly- courage through punishment.

Third, Navy is the sort of team that can get in real trouble if it either falls behind or cannot play ball control. Their offense is efficient, not explosive. Taking away Navy’s offensive efficiency or forcing the Midshipmen to score lots of points playing catch up is problematic for them. Do both- as Tulane did- and it is potentially disastrous. This game was partly Tulane blowing Navy out- and Navy putting itself in a position to get blown out.