I go to Florida for 48 hours: one day is the earliest freeze on record, the other featured the coldest recorded temperature on that date in 140 years. Then, NYC OTB closes. It is piling on the Tulane fan.
The blog will continue to remain dark to mourn the Toledo-naut victory. And while I will still be winding Frank Helps You Think It All Out down, I still have some more time in me. So, as always, the blog will begin the Tulane football post-season review with the campaign’s best and worst. Today, the offense will be featured.
Offensive MVP: LT Pete Hendrickson
Anytime you select as an offensive MVP a non-skill position player, particularly in C-USA, you open yourself to a fair charge of overthinking.
But real quick, what was the best position grouping for Tulane this year? I’d argue safety, followed by offensive line. And Pete Hendrickson was the best of that lot.
The other two rational candidates were Orleans Darkwa and Ryan Griffin. Darkwa did grow on me as the season progressed- but he had pretty pedestrian, decent games versus UTEP and Rice, did not play at all versus Rutgers. Hard to give a guy an MVP award who was largely “okay” or non-existent in the I-A games Tulane won. Part of that is also Darkwa never got involved in the passing game (17 receptions)- an important part of offense in this League.
Ryan Griffin had a nice season- finishing right at 60% completion percentage (223-372, 2371 yards, 14 TDs, 8 INT). But while Griffin was lauded here this season, there is a long way in C-USA from decent quarterback play to awesome, destructive C-USA quarterback play. Griffin simply was not a plus player, merely mostly okay.
On the whole, the Tulane offensive line was good- and played their best in the games Tulane won: super versus Rutgers and Rice, good versus UTEP. And Hendrickson had a strong, consistent, healthy season- the keystone to this quality group of C-USA players. Despite injuries to the best RB and QB, and an utter disaster at WR, Tulane could both run and pass adequately this year. That was due to good o-line play.
Now, Hendrickson isn’t a real good NFL prospect; I doubt he will be drafted. He is deficient in a lot of requirements for NFL tackles- not nimble enough to get out after edge rushers, ungainly at times. His weight (308 lbs) doesn’t flatter the 6’8” frame, not thick enough. He’d be a better prospect at 6’ 3”.
But he is real strong, and really leaned on defensive ends all season. Any defensive linemen, even BCS League players, he could catch, get his hands on, he simply controlled. The picture above is real illustrative- if Hendrickson gets his hands on quality pass rush specialist Tyrell Graham, Graham is clearly in trouble.
You don’t get that raw, brute strength in a giant much in C-USA. In fact, I cannot think of a Tulane offensive linemen who grew in stature, as opposed to simple size, so much in his time at Tulane.
At the risk of being open to yet another charge- that this a lifetime achievement award versus an MVP- Hendrickson has been a quality C-USA tackle, a real anchor, for three years. Tulane will miss him.
Disappointment Award: AP DJ Banks
All-Purpose player DJ Banks was not touted highly coming out of high school, but experienced summer buzz due to some touting by coaches and yogwf.
Then the season started- and I wondered frequently here what the fuss was all about. It is perhaps no surprise that his best game was versus Southeastern Louisiana. He is clearly a good prospect, but for I-AA.
Much like the NBA, FBS football is the death of tweeners: Banks is a 6’4” small forward. Like many all-purpose style players, Banks has a nice, broad collection of skills- until one realizes that none are I-A. He is a tiny target, can’t block, “speedy for a quarterback” which is not the same thing as “speedy for a wide out”. It was hard to get him the ball in the straight offense, and hard to play him in the straight offense unless he got the ball. That is a hard equation to square.
Banks probably made the right decision to transfer out. He’d be a good player at McNeese, helpful in the Sunbelt.