Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Toledo Improvement Continues

Good news readers! The “Bob Toledo Improvement” is scheduled to continue this weekend: SMU is -6 over the Wave.

Touring out little Tulane world's many chat boards, there wasn’t much commentary after this weekend’s loss. It seems like last night’s loss was “turn off the lights” for a lot of folks in 2007. I suppose that, even if you had the Green Wave at seven wins, you could write off the Mississippi State/Houston/LSU losses as hard games to win. But I had the Wave at three- and to get there I had them splitting this pair with the Blazers and the Cadets- and missing those opportunities is a whole different ball of wax.

It is official; Tulane is a bad football team. Forte and the defensive line are plus C-USA units; nothing else is. One could be tempted to put the o-line, three out of four games featuring over 200 yards rushing, and other elements of the “okay” defense in there- but I imagine, once it is a top-half C-USA team over on the other side, it’ll be back to being unable to block or stop anyone.

That all being said, how do you turn 500 yards of offense and a defensive effort that allowed a mere two touchdowns into a game where you trail most of the second half by multiple scores? How does that happen exactly?

Part of it, is that in addition to being bad, Tulane is easy to play against.

I don’t mean in the sense that they don’t run enough trick plays, etc. I mean regular football stuff: they commit a dozen penalties every game because they don’t line up right, have the correct guys on the field or lack the discipline to stay on-sides. The best offensive player also fumbles the most (a bad dichotomy), the “manage-the-game” qb throws multiple picks in Blazer territory. The bigger the kick-off return the more likely it is to go for a score.

Conversely, both Army and UAB struck me as “hard to play” against- at least the Saturday Tulane saw them. Take Army- even down ten points they continued to force Tulane to execute kicks and punts and third down conversions and not commit penalties and move the clock again and again and again- until, after 57 minutes, Tulane made mistakes. Like the Cadets, the Blazers aren’t good- but they also never stopped executing the routine stuff either. Both teams kept the pressure on for sixty minutes. They never allowed Tulane to score “bolt of lightening points”- but rather forced Tulane to execute 12 good football plays to score- and that just isn’t Anthony Scelfo and company.

I never got a sense UAB were beating themselves. Yet, that fear of turnovers and bad kick coverage and “can we play prevent?” hangs over everything Tulane does.

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