Let’s say you were a mad scientist- and, in a fit of cruelty, decided to recreate the end of the 2009 Tulane football experience?
Perhaps you might start with this year’s football team. Then, remove Ryan Griffin, and re-instate the spotty quarterback play. Take the current defense, pound on them until they are simply worn out, a shell of the unit that took the field earlier in the season versus Rutgers. The empty Dome and horrid special teams are already in place.
Tulane and the fans are right back to the brutal end of last season- a crushing blowout, an exact repeat of last year’s UCF mess.
This is a game, like Rice last week, where Tulane needed to score to keep up, protect the defense, cover for both turnover and special teams woes. Kevin Moore just isn’t that guy, particularly playing from way behind with no one any good to throw too: DJ Banks zero catches (benched?), Ryan Grant four catches, one turnover. Plus, if Kemp is going to be a limited player at the quarterback position, he can’t be turning the ball over three times. This was going to be a tough game no matter what- but losing the turnover battle four-love made it hopeless.
The Wave could run it- a bright spot. Orleans Darkwa continued his nice rookie campaign with 129 yards, plus 13 carries for a nifty 63 in the first half, saved a bit perhaps by not losing either of his two fumbles. Sure, that sort of production is irrelevant based in an environment where you need to game plan to score six, seven touchdowns to just sort of be in it. Still, the RB position figures to be a plus next year- and unlike this campaign, at least one skill position figures to forecast better than average coming in to the 2011 season.
Bottom line, the defense just doesn’t have much left- an unreal 156 total points have been scored versus Tulane in the past three tilts. That is unreal- coming four years in to the Toledo regime. Surely the 'nauts cannot argue Toledo has "improved the defense".
We’ve seen the Green Wave wear down before. The lack of down roster talent, the roster spots after the first fifteen, is particularly painful now, late in the schedule. These are the guys that populate the woeful special teams, the guys you turn to when some rejuvenating fresh legs just about anywhere would help. But Tulane just doesn’t have them- so the kicking game is a wreck and there are no reinforcements for the weary.
Add in a well-coached, well-motivated opposition, and trouble was likely.