2006 Tulane Football Preview
Sigh... Tulane football. How can we ever be succored?
Tulane will present one of the 20 worst on field products in I-A. Period. The defense is wretched, the offense loaded with “if’s”. Scelfo is not a great coach- he’s a competent, average to the core, program head. Accordingly, he has not shown a consistent ability to really, really elevate talent- move a team’s win tally by two, three tallies.
Succor? Well, you could begin by weaving a coherent story that the offense could be kinda okay. There are no secrets here. The wide outs figure to be a plus- for all of Scelfo’s faults you gotta admit he assembles a group at WR each year that contribute. The offensive line is pretty brand new- but this is the first group of line players that has been brought along the right way: red-shirts, a year of playing together behind a veteran group of starters. They might be a nice surprise. After two years of my dogging Forte supporters- Matt looked pretty good in the spring. I am not saying he’ll garner his first coach/media vote for third-team all conference (i.e. the fifth best RB in the League) but he might, just might, help this campaign.
But it boils down to Ricard. Sigh. Lester has made close to twenty I-A starts- and been great in three. Other than that, Ricard's been a scary, erratic turnover machine. This ball control offense via the pass requires consistent, accurate reads with lots of completions- and Ricard has, outside of his three great starts, shown neither. He’s certainly capable of a few really good starts when Tulane can create what I call the “Yellow Submarine”- i.e. he’s protected in a low stress environment. For myself, I don’t believe Lester will ever be a week-after-week plus. He’ll be spraying the ball, creating typical killer turnovers in both red zones, be all over the lot in a lot more games than not.
The Wave defense... many, many, many problems here. They couldn't stop the run with Cannon or pass. The schedule is harder- LSU & Auburn alone could score 100 points with 1300 yards of offense. Our League is offense friendly- teams go for cartoon-like numbers routinely. Add an offense that doesn't figure to be able to protect the defense consistently. Trouble.
Who has a worse linebacker situation than Tulane in C-USA? The defensive secondary couldn’t run or tackle last year; why should that be different? And every single year, we are told this is the year the defensive front steps up. They are like Ricard now- I won’t believe until I see it. Consequently, complete this sentence... they’ll keep Houston to less than 400 yards of offense because...?
Kicking game should be much better.
A real bad defense added to an offense that needs three things to go real right (QB, new o-line and Forte) to be decent... well, if Tulane were a BCS school, you could cheerfully pencil in two wins for this group.
But thank heavens for C-USA! It is a league filled with oh so many other teams with dire, unpleasant issues- an indifferent League, with so many busted outposts; you can never throw in the towel on a season.
Look at this week’s lines: Navy is -12 over East Carolina. Texas Tech is -26.5 over SMU. Oklahoma -21.5 over UAB. Florida -20 over USM. San Diego -2.5 over UTEP???
Tulane, in the bottom quartile of I-A programs, fits right in.
So while Tulane is probably a four TD underdog to, say, Texas Tech- the schedule inoculates Tulane against complete disaster. SMU, Rice & Army all come here. With this defense and quarterback, Tulane can’t play wontedly well enough to beat all three- but I cannot imagine losing two either. Someone in this League/schedule always disappoints: Marshall is already pretty bad, Mississippi State and Houston can get beat if they are asleep at the switch. Frankly, it is hard to be an underdog in nine games- and not get one by accident.
So that is where to put the Wave- get two of three from Rice, SMU and Army- steal one somewhere else- and get to three. A chance for four- but three is where I hang this hat.