Lookin' Sharp Tulane!
The boys looked sharp. SMU is clearly no great shakes- but you know, Tulane “played well”- and you cannot mark them down for taking advantage of SMU’s many mistakes and suspect offense. They stepped on SMU- and if SMU wanted to commit turnovers & give them field position all day long- well, good on Tulane for hanging 31 on them.
Clearly, the defensive front is the story of the season so far. Back to back strong efforts against the pass. Rush defense is still maybe a little inconsistent- I imagine if you take away the sack yardage (which counts against rushing totals in college) SMU was north of 125.
But... Great pass rush. Nine sacks!- and you can’t say they fattened the stats when they knew SMU had to pass late down multiple scores- as they got five in the first half. Someone lit a fire under Craig Morris- best game of his career- well, since ECU last year. 20 minutes TOP for SMU- Tulane got the defense off the field all day.
Plus, you know, the defense was consistent. Even. No big up and downs. A lot of times on the road Tulane looks "with it" one series- and "out of it" the next. Focused today.
Offense was "even" too- playing totally within its capabilities. Got to big points late when they got the short field twice- which was nice to see but probably not reflective of where they are. But again, the wind and the impotent SMU offense gave them incentive to keep the game plan pretty vanilla- not reach for big numbers and flash. And the tailback mix was more intelligent- and thus two solid tailback performance merged into a very productive one.
Ricard- again no big numbers until the garbage time scores- but not asked to do much, for once, except hand it off. Tulane could have done without his brutal interception, the delay of game on the goalline in the fourth, the fumbled snap. Too much of this stuff still goes on with him. Candidly, they need Ricard to be great, with minimal mental errors, to beat UTEP and USM and Navy. Not merely okay-plus. But this sort of Ricard effort is obviously enough to beat the SMUs, Tulsas and such of the league.
Specials also a little better: made a big kick; the miss- aahh... it was windy. He gets a pass. The kick off return was unfortunate- but you know, SMU is allowed to make plays too- and McMurtray is apparently a real good returner.
They didn’t blow’em out until late. But I think the weather, coupled with the fact the Wave defense really had a measure of these guys from the get go, allowed Tulane to play conservative. It was a mature performance from a team that usually plays its best in helter-skelter situations (see UAB, TCU last year).
SMU is pretty bad obviously- but Tulane did not play down to their level, took advantage of the mistakes and their talent advantages, parlayed some short fields late into scores- and got a road win they need to have to realistically have a plus-shot at a winning campaign.