I am a little surprised at the disappointment on the boards this morning. Did the Green Wave not win the football game? I’m not sure Tulane wins enough to act surly because not enough style points were accumulated.
It really was not that bad. If you were looking for reasons to be disenchanted, you could surely find them. But there were a goodly number of positives too.
Clearly, the Wave needs Ryan Griffin to do more. And he certainly cannot generate two turnovers just by himself. But, relax for a second. He did the first thing a quarterback in the spread is asked to do: possess the ball via the air, make all the easy throws, complete two-thirds of his throws (he would have had 70% plus if not for some drops). One interception in 26 attempts is acceptable. Yes, Tulane needs to now transfer the routine success to the bigger pass play- use the short possession pass to set up the double-move, pump and go, etc. But....
Well, he did all that under duress- no time for the bigger shots down field. Frankly, the offensive line did not have a good night, particularly with the extra rushers. But again, last year, we saw Tulane could block the less physical outfits. They will come around, against the bottom half of the schedule at least. Banks and Robottom probably demonstrated they are, at the very least, two average C-USA WRs who can get to 150 catches total. They might also be better.
The passing yardage total of 125 is wholly unacceptable of course. But again, the protection wasn’t of a consistent quality to throw a lot of 20+ yards balls. Tulane also probably sacrificed a dozen passing attempts in an attempt to move the clock, protect the offensive line from its protection woes and give some extra opportunities to the night’s other intriguing development- the RB tandem of Darkwa and Williams. Who doesn’t feel a little better about the backfield depth this morning? Particularly since it seems Banks also has a sustainable 50-60 carry role as well.
And the defense played pretty okay. Last year this outfit was gouged for 400+ yards in this FCS showcase. Despite being put on the field four extra times (two turnovers, two awful fourth down penalties), they forced FOUR turnovers, four sacks, allowed an improved 266 yards. I would have signed for the numbers pre-game. A Tulane defense that can hold the bottom half of the rest of the schedule to 350 yards is a huge step toward flirting with a .500 campaign.
Plus, the LB Mackey looks like the real deal- seemingly our first all-League defensive candidate in like forever. Except you also need to put the heady Shakiel Smith in that category too- a guy with not the greatest physical talents, but an increasing habit of being in the right place. He is heady.
And they punted like an SEC team! Who was that kid? I guess you can't get too crazy- inside, in the Dome.
Look, there was nothing on display last night that demonstrated Tulane could win seven games (except, again, Mackey looks like a player: sure tackler, good lateral speed- he looks good in the nickel). The fourth down penalties, and whopping nine overall, show the Toledo hangover of “personal foul Tulane is how we roll” is a constant cancer on activities.
But Tulane has five, six teams on this schedule that are no guarantee to beat Southeastern Louisiana by multiple scores either. I still say they won’t finish last in League play- and will be better than last year’s outfit.