Friday, July 15, 2005


I am one of the members of the prestigious "Blogpoll"- which you can find here along with links to participating members. There doesn't appear to an LSU representative- as I suppose they couldn't find anyone literate:

This week’s host is:

And the question is:

Which unheralded player on your team will be the hardest to replace? Which seemingly inconsequential player could make the biggest impact?

- The beauty of participating in this roundtable as one of very, very few representatives of mid-major I-A programs- you know, the ones who get literally 2% of the national television and bowl revenue after your greedy BCS programs lift your snout from the trough- is that everyone on the team is unheralded or inconsequential to the national picture.

That being said, the hardest unheralded player to replace would be WR Chris Bush. I am tempted to say Roydell Williams- but I guess he is semi-heralded as he did managed to get drafted in the fourth round by the Titans.

In case you missed it, Tulane has been for eight or so years now, pretty okay for a perennial doormat: an undefeated season, two bowl wins, a nice run of quarterbacks, Mewelde Moore, etc. The defense is always horrible. Fortunately, in a league dominated by cartoon-like offensive numbers, the Wave has been well fortified at the skill positions. Roydell Williams was the latest in this line. Tulane routinely scores a ton of points- which is why they aren’t horrible anymore.

Accordingly, Chris Bush, signed as an undrafted free agent, was the perfect number two guy. Roydell always drew the top corner and whatever safety help existed. To Tulane’s great advantage, Bush was a pretty good player in his own right. Add in the fact that I cannot emphasize how bad the average defensive back is in our league- and Bush was well positioned to torture opposing teams. He caught everything thrown to him and was always healthy. He could block. He could run possession routes and catch the deep ball. He caught seven touchdowns- all seemingly huge. Both of Tulane’s quarterbacks were only sophomores, thus erratic, with no real running game- and having those two NFL-caliber guys to throw to allowed Tulane to steal some decent big wins: 35-31 on the road at TCU, 45-10 over a ten-win Navy team, 59-55 over UAB. A lot of offense in football is establishing things you can do: run the ball here, throw it there. And every game, get the ball to Roydell and Chris was a thing Tulane could do.

This year, with those guys gone, and the quarterback still sort of a question mark, the defense cannot simply be terrible for them to be bowl eligible (the goal for mid-majors!). Mark this guy down: Anthony Cannon.

Cannon is just a unyielding and dependable I-A player, who would be an asset at just about any program in the country. Sometimes you can look at linebackers and get myopic. You know, this ‘backer runs real well, or has great one-on-one cover skills. But Cannon possesses the most significant linebacker skill: flat out tackle people. Anthony gets off blocks- and don’t waste your time coming at him with a fullback. Not a big hitter- but he plays big and he plays violent. He gets to you; you go down. I love his violent side.

I am not exactly serious, but there is not a I-A defense in the country that would be better served by taking a few personal foul penalties for late hits, improper hits on the qb, etc. than Tulane. I would love Tulane to bring that Cannon attitude to 2005- a real vicious attitude in the front seven. Sometimes the Wave is simply too easy to play against.

Again, Cannon brings that violence Saturday after Saturday. Look at his numbers this year. Eleven tackles at MSU and Houston. Eight stops against ECU. Sixteen(!!!) against USM. This is particularly impressive in light of the fact that no one runs a running play versus Tulane without making sure someone is assigned to block him. It is re-assuring to know Cannon will be out there every game, every play and will make the play, brutally, every single time. He was 3rd team C-USA last year- can’t wait to see him next year. He just gets it.

For you line people, Chris McGee is another player you might never see on your favorite NFL team in the future- but is a real good college player. How this guy was not all-CUSA last year was absolutely beyond me? Like here are six tackles better than him in this stupid league?

The Wave played 22 halves last year, and the offensive line got an “A” or “B” or better in sixteen of them. On the whole team, only the wideouts were more consistent. McGee is the best player on the line- a guy you can start week after week and know you’ll compete there. I am not sure he’s a good player in an SEC-style league with its premium on pure physicality. However, in C-USA where you don’t face monster fronts, McGee’s other skills- picking up the endless stunts and blitzes team employ to cover the pitiful secondaries, moving your feet to spots to block the run in the spread offense, etc.- make McGee is a superior player.