Friday, October 14, 2005

Watch Out Miners

In the New York Post this morning, the Miners are -7 over the Wave (so far I am 4-0 outright and 2-1 ATS). I must admit I thought the line would exceed that one score margin. But the Miners backers can't be too greedy! The Wave defense has shown up more often than not, UTEP is a little up-and-down too, and the “Ricard goes nuts and throws for four scores” factor hangs over everything Tulane does. (photo credit)

That Ricard factor is a big thing when picking these games against the points. The Tulane defense is a nice surprise so far- a frankly competent C-USA outfit. If Ricard dumps 28 to 49 points on anyone in the League, which we've all seen him do, Tulane ought to be in any League game they play.

I know it is a television game- and Tulane had to take what was offered. But this short week has to impact a harried club like Tulane- particularly in light of UTEP’s week off.

The Wave defense might do all right in this spot. If you like what Ricard brings, you’ll love Jordan Palmer- capable of anything on any snap: a big play, a brutal turnover, lots of balls sprayed everywhere, but mixed with some "did he just hang 150 yards passing and two scores on us this quarter?"

Much like Tulane, UTEP gets less than it should out if its yards and game plan. If Tulane gets a decent game out of the offense, and the defense is not asked to do an awful lot on this short week, they’ll compete well. I worry about Tulane late on both sides of the ball. I hate short weeks- remember Ne La.?

And for all the howls about the Tulane offense, there were some positive things in the Houston game. They ran the ball pretty well- and the offensive line looked a little better. I’m not killing them like everyone else. Okay, they were bad against Mississippi State- just couldn’t handle that size and the SEC athlete. But they were all right, even good, against SMU, and then blocked the run well- outside of short yardage, which frankly they’ll never do- against Houston. Even the protection wasn’t too bad- if the team you are playing commits to sending people to get the quarterback, they’re going to get there.

In short, I think they’ll be a little better on offense this week. Consequently, between possessing the ball a little more and scoring some more points- the defense will accordingly have a fighting chance.

I tend to believe Tulane will be in this until the fourth quarter. But UTEP is probably better, although not by a ridiculous amount, and that off week is a big deal. I imagine it will be a tired Tulane club by the end. UTEP scores some extra late- so I’ll take the Miners and give the points- but the Wave should play better in this spot than most think. Hard to see them winning though: again, UTEP is somewhat better, short week and the Tulane special teams are a real, serious problem that gives UTEP a probable field position advantage all night long, if not an outright cheap score.