Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Wave Plays Credibly

Encouraging. I thought Tulane was a lay-up to cover the thirty- a pretty dumb line in retrospect- but I’m surprised Alabama struggled so badly on offense. So, certainly a “win” for the seven-eight win crowd. If Tulane can duplicate that effort regularly, they can absolutely manage a winning C-USA season.

The defense was very, very good Saturday. They loaded up against the run- dared quarterback John Parker Wilson to beat them- and categorically he could not. The Tide doesn’t normally ask him to do much- he plays a lot more games under 250 yards passing that over it. And the Wave was not shy about putting the mantle square on him. Good game plan, good execution. The defense did enough to win the game against a whole lot of teams in Division I.

The offense was a little less impressive- but they didn’t turn it over in the passing game despite fifty attempts- and that gave them a chance to steal it for a long time. I must admit, I was very encouraged to see them throw it so much: does it mean the promised four yards in a cloud dust, bullying offense is done?

Heavens, I hope so. Last year, with Forte and Scelfo, they were forced into looking for excuses to rush the football. I get that. But you can be too smart. The whole C-USA experience, from how it is officiated, to the utter dearth of good DBs, to the stockpiling of stockpiling all speed and athleticism into the skill positions, the resultant surplus of skill position players capable of cartoon numbers, screams throw the football. If Southern Miss has given up on bulk and grit- and they ruled for a long time on bulk and grit- one might be foolish to embrace that approach.

Plus, isn’t it nice to finally not be wasting snaps and development time at the quarterback position? You can justify- barely- the time Scelfo spent a the position last year- but you cannot argue it was advancing the program. Yes, the four yards plus generated per attempt Saturday simply won’t hack it. And outside of one big pass play, the Wave generated something semi-ugly like 170 yards in 48 attempts, plus five sacks. Ugh. But you gotta love the zero interceptions. Point is, maybe this guy can play- and accordingly, Moore is a lot better use of the time at the position.

Special teams were bad- but every regime has an unsolvable problem- and this appears to be Tulane’s current on-field dilemma.

What does all mean? Look, part of my Tulane +30 forecast in this spot was that we’d seen this before: with an even worse quarterback situation, they played a much better LSU team credibly for 2.5 qtrs. Alabama is not in the same class as the 2007 Tigers, so I for one am not too surprised the Wave played damn credible for three plus quarters.

But is it sustainable? Frankly, last year is wasn't. They played sprightly versus LSU- then weren't so good other Saturdays. Teams in college routinely get up for this sort of big game, while the dominant power sort of sleep walks throught it. With East Carolina coming in, they’ll need back-to-back emotional, physical efforts. This game is sort of a free one for Tulane- even if you think they’re winning eight games- you’re probably carrying this one as a loss. But I think ultimately it will be a better barometer of the season for the Wave. Another good effort and you can move the Alabama game game from a one-off to a real trend.

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