Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Post tenebras spero lucem

The Tulane fan draws comfort from that title. Anyway, three weeks ago I posted some reasons for modest strategic improvement in the on-field football product. Today, I’d like to offer some hope for our tactical problem- namely the immediate three-win disaster Bob Toledo is currently inflicting on our program.

I was stuck from the get go last year on a 2-3 win campaign- but I’m feeling more bullish. A fair Vegas over/under for 2009 Tulane football would be 3.5 or 4. And I am inclined to take the over.

Mind you, I’m not arguing for any sort of Bowden-style renaissance. First of all, Coach Toledo ain’t Tommy Bowden- good or bad. But, as I’ve written before, if an average coach doing an average job can be expected to win 4-8 I-A games regularly at Tulane, then a diffident coach maybe can get them between 2-6?

Surely, Toledo’s got the “three I-A win season” down pat. And man, Coach is diffident. Except when the press is within earshot- then he is the Mr. Miyagi of three-win seasons. He is no Job in front of a microphone. Nevertheless, I am sort of feeling that Tulane is ticketed toward the upper end of that 2-6 win range next season.

Frankly, it simply does not take much to get to .500 with this schedule. Look at Rice. Is Rice really better than Tulane on defense? Since the Tulane game the Owls allowed 44 to UTEP, 31 to Army, 42 to Houston. There are big numbers littering their results every place you look. Frankly, there is no Rice renaissance- they just hit on the right quarterback in the most quarterback friendly League going since the 1980s WAC.

Point is, Rice won ten games with a Tulane-style defense. Tulane can get to six-ish with a bare modicum of improvement in the defense and any kind of mediocre offense.

And I’m a heartened abut the latter. I zapped Coach for his approach in 2007- the sacrifice of endless snaps to develop Scelfo, a quarterback with zero future here, and his inability to produce a plus skill position player outside of Forte.

Well, that wasn’t true in 2008. He did get two quarterbacks- guys seemingly with potential and definitely a future- looks at the elephant. Okay, maybe neither Moore nor Kemp project as good C-USA quarterbacks- but how about merely average? Plus, quarterbacks almost always move up after a full spring after some prolonged experience. With even a little luck, why can’t one of these guys improve from okay-minus to pretty okay?

Second, there exists a plus skill position player on the roster. Andre Anderson is an all conference player. And that is one more entering the season than last year.

They entered 2008 with zero experienced, rational answers at tailback and quarterback. Tulane had only hope- having to draw an inside straight to get even average play, let alone plus play, from skill players out there. Next year, that changes. Anderson CAN play and the story that an average C-USA quarterback emerges in September is not a pipe dream. Add a healthy Williams… they might be pretty okay over there- and able to survive a significant injury.

I still don’t think either unit projects average for C-USA. But again, even some improvement- the offense again almost has to be a whole level better- probably gets the Wave sniffing an “over 4 win” Vegas style line.

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