The Morning After An Odd Affair
Now, really, that was an odd affair. Tulane and Houston- alternately real good and very bad.
Both teams were featuring reserve quarterbacks- which means some outright bad decisions and a level of play best described as raw. Teams don’t get a chance to get enough snaps to get the first guy ready, let alone blood the alternatives.
In fact, that sort of effect is evidenced up and down the Tulane roster. I have suggested that, particularly on defense, the talent level is in the upswing. But there is such a severe disparity in talent level- a roster that combines some plus C-USA defenders (Ponce de Leon, Mackey, Smith) with some guys who wouldn’t start at Se Louisiana. Some of the perimeter defenders- OLB, CB, nickel/dime backs- are real suspect.
I think that sort of accounts for Tulane’s early game woes. It takes Tulane a couple dozen snaps to figure out who is merely a problem versus simply uncompetitive (and needs help). The Green Wave fan has been screaming for in-game adjustments forever- and finally, the defensive staff seems to have both the ability to change AND a few assets good enough they can “cheat on defense” with.
So the Wave got dumped on early- the OLBs and CBs couldn’t tackle the run, flat routes or QB Broadway. So, Tulane moved reinforcements closer to the line of scrimmage and into the box to increase the pressure on the young quarterback, add more guys to tackle in the running game and increase pass pressure options… and trust (i.e. cheat) their quality safety to keep potentially disasterous up the field options under control. Adjustments- and players who can handle extraordinary assignments. Shakiel Smith is a tackling machine and is going to be all C-USA- just what team is in question.
Assuming Ryan Griffin is healthy, he has to remain the quarterback. You can’t end a pretty good experiment after eight passing attempts. Kemp played credibly for a back-up. But 12-for-26, turnovers…. He just isn’t accurate enough to really thrive in this style offense.
Other bits and pieces: the o-line blocked the running game well for a number of RB options. Devin Figaro, who was a touted recruit, surely had a disappointing freshman campaign- but wow, he seems to be able to get separation down field. I want to see more of that guy.
Five sacks: Justin Adams has a motor, worried about his size- maybe a true situational player? Dezman Moses looks like he could join the three "plus" defenders as a fourth quality C-USA defensive starter. There was time to throw some deep balls- and some connections (everyone in C-USA has some shaky DB play). All with this background: Houston has genuine top C-USA talent up and down the roster.
I’m real tired of the dirty play. It is always Tulane bringing out fake place-kicking tees, hitting late- now disrupting signals? It is always an unsporting style foul every game. That is the culture; it should change.
Lastly, the two punters… boy, there was some leg on display.
Ultimately, like the Mississippi game, you can’t get too up or down. Tulane did not win- but conversely, this is two games in a row where history suggested a rout was possible, even likely, that did not materialize. This is simply not one of the worst ten-fifteen teams in the country.