Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Velayat-e Faqih

Watching the Bears defeat the Vikings on Monday night, I got a chance to watch the further deterioration of Matt Forté from “star rookie” to something less than pedestrian.

This season he has had one 100 yard rushing day (versus the horrid Lions) and six, count’em six, efforts where he couldn’t break 34 yards. Forté had 22 touches for 67 yards versus the Packers: could not get outside, could not break tackles, totally could not get open (one catch). He has one carry of over 17 yards in 242 attempts! That is emblematic of a guy who has lost a step.

I’ve always had sort of a complex relationship with Forté. Aside from his marvelous senior campaign (and it was a total marvel, a genuine Heisman candidate), he was frankly a pretty jejune C-USA skill player. Clearly, when healthy and motivated, Forte is marvelously quick. He isn’t particularly a strong runner; he isn't in the NFL to knock people over. But he could be fast to the hole or perimeter. Defenders can’t congregate- and worse for them, Matt can make people miss. A lot of C-USA and NFL players can get away from defenders outside the tackles- but Matt could do it inside, in traffic, as well. This made him a dual inside/outside threat, a guy who did not need a whole lot of blocking, a guy who could run away from trouble and get a second option on a stuffed play.

But he isn’t completely healthy much (like his first three years at Tulane)- and he isn’t a player who plays well “hurt”. It isn’t a courage thing- but more that a strong-on-his-feet back can be half-a-tick slow, but still carry people. That isn’t Matt.

I wonder if Matt is done? He had a crazy workload as a rookie- and Toledo did not exactly protect his future earning potential at Tulane with the workload he assigned a player with such an obvious “career carry meter”. Even we know the NFL running back only has so many hits in him. Based on his checkered undergrad career, Forté figured to have fewer quality touches than most. I’m not exactly sure Toledo had his pro career in mind with the extreme total load Forté carried. Matt may have left two good NFL years on the field his last year in New Orleans.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dumbness, Poor Play and Laziness

I personally did not glean much from the Eagles' much harder than it had to be win over a game Denver outfit. A mixture of dumbness, poor play and laziness (what is it with the tackling in the secondary?) allowed Denver to creep back and tie the game late. But the cruel lessons of the NFL asserted themselves at last. The Eagles have a franchise quarterback, who despite playing terrible for an entire half, generated big plays in subsequent late possessions. McNabb managed to flip field position once (with a third and forever scramble), then delivered the subsequent kill shot with a third down strike to Jeremy Maclin down field. Conversely, Denver went three and out on their sandwiched possession.

The win moved McNabb out of the line of fire and poor Macho Harris right in. I tend to give him a pass. The personal foul he was assessed was a poor call- and while he did fumble a big kick-off, well, he is out there, right? In a League where people are all moaning about the failure of late round draft picks to contribute, Macho is a fifth round pick out there returning kicks and actually playing safety. It isn’t like the Eagles are hiding him. But the flip side of having rookie draft picks play and contribute is they make dumb errors.

Folks seem pretty sanguine about the Eagles’ loss of center Jamal Jackson for the season. Yes, Jackson isn’t very good. Center is probably the most unappreciated regular position on the field- so like most teams, the Eagles cut salary cap corners here and play an undrafted free agent.

But it has potential to be a problem. I hate when teams shift offensive lineman around to cover a new gap. Consequently, when sports writers dismiss the shift of Cole from guard to center because “the Eagles think he is better suited to play there”, to me that is code for a secret longing to hide him. The new guard, Jean-Giles is adequate merely for a replacement. Give me a break, please, about Andrews returning to save the day. Right now, Andrews is up there with King Dunlap as players I trust. I dunno- this arrangement reminds me of the Eagles 2004 Super Bowl appearance where they were undone by poor interior line play. Basically, the Eagles have weakened two interior line positions to plug one hole.

Look, the Eagles are playing well and are certainly in the mix to win the NFC. But a big part of the renaissance has been the stability, in the second half of the season, of the offensive line- and that stability is out the window. And the first half of the season did not inspire much confidence in Philadelphia’s ability to manage a variable offensive line situation. Adding a pair of real generic offensive line starters now, wedded to the NFC-wide suspect defense, confirms something I wrote two weeks ago: the Eagles are good, good enough to lose another NFC Championship Game.

Nothing this week has moved me off that opinion.

I think they need to upset Dallas as a minor underdog this week to have real Super Bowl aspirations. The Eagles need help- there is not enough here, right now, to win three road games against decent outfits. Cashing in last night’s gift from the Vikings, getting a home game and a bye, cuts that task and the challenges facing the defense down to something the Eagles might be able to manage via a singular offensive explosion in an NFC title game.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Posted Without Comment


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Report: Ice Station Lurie

My treacherous slog to Ice Station Lurie was rewarded with a sloppy, yet somewhat entertaining, defeat of the San Francisco 49ers. Walking to the Linc, the sun slipped below the horizon, and immediately the Hawk was out. Mercy, it was cold, yet busy, in 204: dodging snowballs, rooting for the defense, shivering. Fortunately, I have a flask shaped like a cell phone- and enjoyed warming Woodford Reserve despite the Prohibition.

While there were no style points in this win for Philadelphia, it is perhaps a marker of how far they have come this past six weeks. The Eagles got a careless game from McNabb- but in the end it only meant the Eagles cruised by two scores, rather than smash San Francisco out of the building.

San Francisco isn’t that bad- the49ers have only one other loss by more than a touchdown. They were coming off a pretty impressive road win in Arizona. They were desperate- had a long shot play-off bid to play for. And they still trailed most of the game by two-scores by a bored Philadelphia outfit.

Conversely, the defense rebounded in a big way. The 49ers put out there nifty tight end Vernon Davis- and the Eagles have struggled with that linebacker coverage assignment all year. With the return of nickel back Joselio Hanson from suspension, the Eagles tried something different.

I will begin by saying I love two things in pro-football: punting (always punt the ball) and the “nickel” defense (look for excuses to get the extra defensive back out there). And that is what the Eagles did Sunday. The pretty much substituted Hanson in for the third linebacker regardless of down and distance- and put him right over Davis.

A great truism in the NFL is that you can run on the other team’s nickel- and the 49ers did all day. Frank Gore was north of 100 yards on 16 carries. But big rushing days in the NFL just don’t translate in 24+ points unless you can throw effectively. With the Eagles quality corners clamping down on the wideouts, Hanson regular subtraction of Vernon Davis (three catches), and a poor day from 49ers’ quarterback Alex Smith- there was no 49ers formula to score.

One more thing on that. In the NFL, third-and-two is a nickel down (outside the red zone). Why? You gotta figure it is easier to run for two yards than throw it? 70% of rush attempts in the NFL go for two or more yards- probably even more when the nickel is out there rather than the base defense. Ain’t no one completing 70% of third and short passes- not to mention you're more inclined to turn it over/take a sack on any pass play.

But, in the League, third-and-two is like second-and-short and first down; it is a big play down. In a League where teams need to consistently generate 20+ yard plays to win, third-and-two is now a chance to go up top. Defenses are looking to jam receivers, safeties are in- there are chances to slip guys downfield one-on-one and still time check down to safety valves if the big play does not materialize. McNabb takes a couple shots deep each game third-and-short, including one to Jackson that worked. Teams see third-and-short as a big pass play down, and get the defenders out accordingly.

The only real disappointment was watching one-time Eagle prospect Michael Lewis really struggle. Once Lewis was yet another in an endless stream of quality defensive backs drafted by Philadelphia: 2nd round out of Colorado in 2002. Now, he is visibly slow, cheating in coverage- hobbled by leg injuries, one pick on the entire year. He did have eight tackles- but that was because the Eagles were just attacking him at every opportunity.

As Minnesota and New Orleans slide back weekly, the Eagles seem increasingly in the NFC mix. While it would probably be a mild upset for the Giants or Cowboys to win a play-off game at the Linc, it doesn’t seem much more of a stretch for the Eagles to win at New Orleans.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

JP Gets A Job

Our nation’s terrible unemployment number slightly improved this week when JP Losman found a job with the Oakland Raiders:
Former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel believes that J.P. Losman could be successful with the Oakland Raiders if he's given the opportunity to play.

Losman, whose signing with the shorthanded Raiders became official Wednesday, may get that chance if the pattern of injury and ineffectiveness from Oakland's quarterbacks continues.

Fassel is coach of the newly-crowned UFL champion Las Vegas Locomotives, with whom Losman was the starting quarterback this fall. The veteran coach believes that the strong-armed quarterback has what it takes to return to form in the NFL.

"J.P. is a solid guy and talented quarterback," Fassel told FanHouse in a phone interview Wednesday night. "He is certainly battle-tested. Most of all, though, I'm very impressed with his work ethic, desire to be good and really work at his trade and be better."

Fassel also admitted that three teams were ready to sign Losman if the Raiders did not but declined to specify which ones.
A total of four teams chasing JP? Unreal, but this blog was adamant that the UFL was a good step for JP. The UFL was an opportunity to pick the place to play (so he would in fact actually play) and get some proper non-Buffalo Bills coaching. Say what you want about Jim Fassel- but the guy can coach up the quarterback position. From his wiki bio:
Fassel began his career with assistant coaching stints at Utah State University and Stanford University, working with John Elway at Stanford. He also served as head coach of Utah.

Fassel has a long record of offensive success. He tutored prominent quarterbacks Phil Simms and John Elway. Prior to becoming New York Giants head coach, Fassel served as an assistant coach with the Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, New York Giants, and Oakland Raiders.
JP shrewdly went and got himself the stamp of approval from a coach whose opinion counts on the quarterback position in the NFL. Plus, he showed a little humility and maturity- with his rep that could not hurt.

JP will never enter an NFL season again as a starter- but he has positioned himself for another handful of years of service in the League as a back-up. I doubt he is long for the Raiders; this is an emergency deal. But he’ll get another chance at a place he has some choice in (four teams!) and maybe experience a little fortune for once. I liked the UFL move then- love it now.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

I Hate A Fair Deal

Like many Phillies’ fans, I am a little nonplussed by the Cliff Lee for Roy Halladay trade. Two straight World Series appearances will not mollify Frank Helps You Think It All Out one bit.

For ease of consideration, let’s stipulate two things. Halladay is a somewhat more than marginal upgrade than Lee on paper. Two, the seven prospects the Phillies shipped out in the two trades- the one that brought Lee here, and the subsequent deal that shipped him out- trump the three the Phillies got back from Seattle. (ed. note: Ben Francisco is more than a mere throw in- he is a serviceable platoon starter and bench asset)

So, the Phillies must have sacrificed that excess future talent for something more than a mere upgrade in the number one pitcher.

Well, for one thing, Halladay comes with a very sane contract (for baseball terms).
Put it together, and the Phillies are yoked to the guy for a mere four years at a slightly below market price: $75-ish million? That super classy number one veteran starter- Sabbathia, Santana- normally comes with $20M commitments for a fifth, sixth, even seventh year. There is real value in getting out from under those guaranteed contract out years of a player in his late thirties.

The only teams that can afford that extra multi-year commitment are New York, Boston, Los Angeles/California based clubs (maybe Chicago)- the Phillies’ current chief rivals. And this keeps Halladay out of their clutches. Note, the Phillies are not a big enough revenue club to offer that sixth year to top pitching free agents- and yet they got one anyway. Shrewd- but it costs something.

Second, the six or so million dollars cash the Phillies get back gives them flexibility to go and “rent” a top pitcher/player over the summer without busting their $140M ceiling.

So, Philadelphia paid a premium to get an elite player upgrade for a below market contract, keep him away from rivals and get some cash to fortify the club over the summer. Seems fair to me. All clubs got a fair return. I can’t point to an outright steal and all clubs advanced their organizational agendas.

To me, that is what makes it curious. In a baseball sense, I don’t like fair deals. And I think, in baseball’s current economic climate, you don’t need to make fair deals.

Just like last summer, the Lee deal shook at out at a bargain price because of economic pressures facing the Indians. I cannot believe with the three excellent prospects the Phillies had, and the economic capacity to rent a player, the Phillies could not have swung another bargain deal this summer. The sort of deal where they held another weaker outfit up- rather than pay a fair price.

The worst that could have happened was Lee played out his last year, probably with the gusto associated with last contract years, on a zero-risk low-dollar contract and the Phillies pocketed two first round drafts when he left. Again at worst. All while keeping their top prospects looking for an opportunity to source this season’s top pitching rental. I know that the top pitching spot would be open for 2011 and forward- but with the Phillies willing, obviously, to spend $74 million for four years for Halladay- that problem would probably have solved itself over the next two years.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Increasingly Elf-Like

It is hard to be too enthused about the Eagles 45-28 thumping over the Giants. Sure, it is simply great to watch a dejected, increasingly elf-like Tom Coughlin stand-in for tens of thousands of drenched Giants’ fans. But we’ve seen this movie before. The Eagles have been in the consistently best team in the NFC East for the better part of a decade now. Eh, so they probably are again.

Yes, the Eagles are maybe a bit better than the ten-ish win good forecasted here in August. But there is no Super Bowl title here with this defense. How are the Eagles going to run a gauntlet of @ Minnesota, @ New Orleans and then San Diego/Indy? Score 45 again and again? People! Just because the Giants are, in a pinch, designed to score fifty against- a nifty mixture of just horrible defensive secondary players and suspect defensive line play- does not mean this is a reproducible formula in New Orleans.

Still, must not be pessimistic. It is a good win- as all wins in road division games are. That is just about as well as the Giants can play on offense. They seemingly had the ball the entire game. The Eagles' defense was clearly less desperate than the Giants' offense. Philadelphia made a bunch of soft plays in the defensive backfield: lazy tackling, constantly jumping routes, looking for the easy play- symptomatic of more than a little untypical NFC East softness out there.

Yet, New York still trailed by two full scores with four minutes to go. Frankly, for a team racking up 500 yards of offense, the Giants trailed by two touchdowns a lot: just enough bad luck, breakdowns, turnovers and shaky pass coverage. That is four items- chalk up one score to each and you’re at 28 already.

The New York papers were agog during the week that their recent benchings of three defensive starters, most notable Osi Umenyiora, was helpful and invigorating. I didn’t notice. Maybe they are somewhat better versus the run- but now the Giants get zero push in the pass rush on the early down and distance situations. That is a real unhelpful combination with that New York secondary. Mess up a run play- they get seven yards. Mess up a pass play- and Jackson roams wide open chased by hapless safeties.

Ultimately though, the Eagles are right now what they have been again and again for the past decade- a real threat to get to the NFC Championship game, but a notch below true greatness.


Thursday, December 10, 2009


Below is my last ballot for the "regular season". You can find the actual poll here.

I really wanted to vote the Gators second. But, while the Gators rate at least a TD fave over most undefeated teams- the exception is probably Texas. So the Longhorns get the benefit of the doubt.

I am a little peeved that the BCS is paring TCU and Boise State (ed note: although if that is what it takes to get two mid-majors in and two BCS League teams out, fine). Both teams would acquit themselves well versus Cincinnati and Iowa- and isn't part of this BCS arrangement to give the mid-major powers shots against the big boys? the same big boys who simply won't ever play them away from home? I know I will be dead before the Gators go to Boise- but is it now too much to ask to let the Horned Frogs play the Bearcats some neutral? Instead we get the new and improved Poinsetta Bowl- separate but equal.

Disaappointing to see Houston lose those games at the end- both UCF and the C-USA Championship Game. Their great start- wins @ Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and @ Mississippi State- set them up to make national noise. Now, I'm not sure even a Bowl win over Air Force will get aC-USA team into the main national polls.

1Alabama 1
2Texas 1
3Florida 2
4TCU 1
5Boise State 1
7Oregon 1
8Ohio State 1
9Georgia Tech
10Brigham Young 1
11Iowa 1
12LSU 1
13Penn State 1
14Miami (Florida) 1
15Virginia Tech 1
16Oklahoma State 1
17Oregon State
18Utah 1
19Nebraska 2
20Stanford 2
21West Virginia 2
23East Carolina
24Central Michigan
25Houston 11
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: Southern Cal (#18), Pittsburgh (#20), Troy (#25).


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Modern Sherman

Hard to say who had a rougher week, East Anglia climate “scientists” or the Atlanta Falcons? Much like a modern William Tecumseh Sherman, the Eagles laid waste to Atlanta 34-7- pitching a big time shut out until the final play.

Press reports largely shrugged, laying Atlanta’s overall ineptness at the feet of the absence of five offensive starters- including quarterback Matt Ryan. Of course, the Eagles were also missing five starters- including three key skill players: RB Westbrook, WR Jackson, WR Curtis. Plus, the starting linebackers feature a pair of guys who weren’t on the roster when October started, and the nickel corner is suspended (Hanson). Just as I wrote last week, anyone who thinks Reid is a dope must reconcile the fact that the Eagles haven’t missed a beat asking some nine guys from the bottom half of the roster to start together and contribute.

I mean, all these back-ups went on the road to play a desperate Atlanta outfit: zero turnovers, sixty yards in penalties, made and covered kicks, had one TD allowed. That is a tight outfit- and that is good coaching.

At 8-4, the Eagles squarely control their own destiny. Unfortunately, they still have vexing road games at division rivals New York and Dallas. Winning the division and getting the subsequent home game probably requires sweeping that pair- which seems pretty hard. And let’s see the Vikings lose another one before getting crazy over a two-seed.

Frankly, even getting a wild card berth probably requires winning one division road game. Despite recent success, Philadelphia is a narrow one point ‘dog this weekend. So you can’t write Philadelphia in to the tournament yet. I was rooting hard for Dallas to beat New York this weekend- put the Giants two games back, and make ten wins the probable NFC wild card standard, while keeping Dallas within a mere one game of the Eagles with one head-to-head to play. Instead, we have a three team mess atop NFC East- where one team should go home- and the Eagles are the team with a pair of thorny games left in their rivals’ building.

On the plus side, I suppose they are playing the best football in NFC East right now- but that is a fact that needs to be validated over a whole month yet. Four games is an eternity in this League. Still, this mini-winning streak- good road wins over Atlanta and Chicago, plus the Redskins- has vaulted the Eagles from “maybe” to “probable”.


Monday, December 07, 2009

Miss Food City 2010

As always, this blog is an unabashed supporter of the greatest venue in sports: Bristol Motor Speedway. And to that end, there is an obligation to report the elevation of this year’s Miss Food City: Melissa O'Neal.

We all loved Lindsey. But meet the new Miss Food City:
O'Neal enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, going to the lake, reading, modeling, watching NASCAR races and participating in pageants. She was featured in Fashion Showcase for pageantry/prom Time Magazine's spring 2009 issue. She was president of the Campus Activities Board and a member of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society at Roane State Community College. She is most proud of her volunteer work with various organizations including Teens Against Drugs Center, Bread of Life Rescue Mission, Relay for Life, Salvation Army and an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. She plans to obtain a bachelor's degree in mass communication and pursue a career as a broadcast personality. She hopes to study abroad, continue to promote volunteerism and one day have a family of her own.

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Friday, December 04, 2009

Looking Up To Temple

This article in SI is of interest “With a relentlessly local recruiting approach, Al Golden has the Temple Owls bowl eligible for the first time since 1979”:

Off the field, Temple is not an exactly ideal comparison for Tulane. It is enormous, has tons of local alums, the administration was horrified by the program’s competitiveness level rather than oddly complacent. But on field, it works better: no one goes, an urban orientation with a popular NFL and college team sucking interest, playing in the NFL stadium, a bad League, minimal facilities, losing forever.

But the Owls have tuned it around. It is just one year-but that radical gloom which both Tulane and Temple shared is gone there. It is very 1997 on Broad Street. I take two things from it.

First, in a bad League, you are never far from competitive (look at Rice and SMU).

To wit, answer this multiple choice question:

For Tulane to win a total of fifteen games in 2011 and 2012, what would do the best to ensure that result?:

A. Fire Toledo
B. Fire the administration: AD and university President
C. Build a new stadium
D. Have a Chase Clement clone appear on campus.

The honest answer is "D"! (although yes, "A" might help "D") We ought not lose site of that.

Second, this quote from the article is of particular interest. The author is speaking of the new coach Al Golden:
“While predecessor Bobby Wallace pursued far-flung junior college transfers, Golden has emphasized a local approach, rarely pursuing players who live more than a three-hour drive from Philadelphia. The roster boasts 68 players from Pennsylvania and New Jersey.”
As I have posted on here before, I am negative on jucos (they are jucos for one of three reason: they can’t play, they can’t make test scores, or some unhealthy combo of the first two). If the Green Wave were a mere player or two away- I could be brought round, but Tulane is not.

That being said, while I have no problem about keeping an eye on talent nationally (I mean, if you can organize the cost and headcount, why not?), I can’t imagine being consistently successful without locking down multiple talent pipelines within 150-200 miles from your campus.

Point being: Temple seems to have figured some of this stuff out- get the right coach, recruit an overlooked star- and in two years, due their League being pretty bad- their problems seem a whole lot less terminal. There is some good Temple stuff littered throughout here.

NONE of their solutions were big dollar or admin related. Let’s not reinvent the wheel here.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Season Thoughts- Part 2

Just a quick look at Prediction Thursday- just for accountability sake. 8-4 ATS for the year- raising the all time Prediction Thursday mark to a real good 50-24. The secret? Picked against Tulane five times- won all five. Sigh....

Tulsa -13.5 over Tulane. At the season’s beginning, while I thought Tulane would be better, I didn’t think the defense had improved at all- and Tulsa’s “new” offense would still prove problematic. That turned out correct. WIN

Tulane +17.5 over BYU. I thought Tulane could hang with a BYU in a trap game. I did not realize BYU was a legit Top 15 outfit. LOSS

Tulane -3.5 over McNeese State. McNeese to upset the Wave was a trendy pick even on our own Forums- but the big losses to quality BYU/Tulsa outfits did not necessarily stamp Tulane as horrid. WIN

Tulane +6.5 over Army. Ridiculous to put the Cadets a TD over anyone. Anytime you’re getting more than a FG and you think your team could win outright- take the points and run. Easy pick. WIN

Marshall -3 over Tulane. With two straight wins, Tulane was facing some prosperity. Without much experience in handling success, I figured the Wave could come out flat versus a slightly better Marshall team. Tulane did. WIN

Houston -19 over Tulane: One absolute truism about Tulane football under Coach Toledo is they have no hope whatsoever with hanging with the League’s best teams. Easy pick. WIN

Tulane +21.5 over USM. Found this line ridiculous- USM is simply not as explosive as Houston. Turned out the Wave defense couldn’t stop even mediocre C-USA offenses (see Rice). LOSS

LSU -35 over Tulane. I figured Tulane would score 3. Wrong. WIN

Tulane +7 over UTEP. Just like Army, Tulane could win outright- so the points were just gravy. WIN

Tulane +3 over Rice.
I thought both teams were pretty evenly matched- but Tulane had the classy C-USA tailback. Unfortunately, Rice was better in the second half of the season and Andre was only okay- his bleah season continued. Lost the backdoor cover in final seconds. LOSS

Tulane +22 over UCF. Tulane had back-to-back close League games, games in which they had scored 68 total points- which made the 22 seem generous. Instead, Tulane came out and quit. LOSS.

Tulane +17.5 over SMU. Hard to take the Wave after the UCF disaster- but SMU had zero to play for (Bowl game locked in) and some guys on Tulane’s offense had motivation. I figured the Wave would score three times or more. They did. WIN

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Season Thoughts-Part 1

Tulane concluded its disappointing even for them 2009 campaign with a much more spirited effort than many expected- but still losing to SMU 26-21. The Wave finished 3-9. I had predicted something like 4-8 (a whole step better than 2008)- but instead Tulane was just a little better, and yet still pretty bad.

Before Frank Helps You Think It All Out lets the season mercifully go, today I wanted to write a little about Toledo offense approach. To get started, a link to the SMU box score is here. Tomorrow I will write about "Twelve Lessons" Toledo learned.

Bottom line, the Wave played pretty well on offense, right? Like the McNeese State game, Tulane committed to get Andre Anderson a goodly number of carries. He put up 105 yards in 27 tries- not great, but not bad. QB Ryan Griffin did what he is supposed to do: 18-26, 216 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions. The Wave managed a snappy six yards a snap- and 345 yards of offense.

Not to be obnoxious, but those are very normal, mundane numbers for a team with 29 minutes TOP allowing 26 points to the other side. Honestly, if you run this offense with decent talent (a quarterback having a good day, minimal turnovers, productive skill player at tailback), this is what you expect. Even if you got a little more out of the running game, another big passing play, Tulane would add another 40-50 yards of offense, 3-7 more points?

To me, that is a problem. Tulane’s offense played “up” in class a notch, gave Toledo a perfectly expected, productive day versus a so-so League defense- and could generate only 21 points?

That simply isn’t enough in this League. If you can’t game plan to score five TDs against good C-USA defenses, let alone poor to average ones, it is trouble.

And I can’t see, even if Tulane had played perfectly within the parameters given to them by Toledo on Saturday, how Tulane can get to that sort of number consistently? Since Bowden’s dethroning of USM circa 1998, thirty rushes is not a consistent recipe for success in this League. Tulane needs to throw more often- get more true spread out there- aim for 350 yards passsing, not 150 yards rushing.

And again, Part 2 tomorrow.

Lastly, this week's BlogPoll:
4Boise State
6Cincinnati 1
7Ohio State 1
8Oregon 2
9Brigham Young 4
10Iowa 4
11LSU 1
12Penn State 3
13Miami (Florida) 6
14Houston 2
15Oklahoma State 6
16Virginia Tech 6
17Oregon State 4
18Southern Cal 2
19Utah 2
20Pittsburgh 9
23West Virginia
24Central Michigan 1
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: Georgia Tech (#6), Clemson (#18), Temple (#23), Navy (#24).

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