2011 Tulane Preview
Tulane QB Ryan Griffin
Tulane QB Ryan Griffin
Posted Jul 13, 2011

CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Tulane Green Wave

Tulane Green Wave

Preview 2011

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By Richard Cirminiello

Head coach: Bob Toledo
5th year: 13-35
Returning Lettermen
Off. 21, Def. 25, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 20
Ten Best Tulane Players
1. RB Orleans Darkwa, Soph.
2. LB Trent Mackey, Jr.
3. DE Dezman Moses, Sr.
4. FS Shakiel Smith, Jr.
5. QB Ryan Griffin, Jr.
6. DE Austen Jacks, Jr.
7. DB Ryan Travis, Jr.
8. WR Ryan Grant, Jr.
9. LB Darryl Farley, Jr.
10. PK Cairo Santos, Soph.
2011 Schedule

Sep. 3 SE Louisiana
Sep. 10 Tulsa
Sep. 17 at UAB
Sep. 24 at Duke
Oct. 1 at Army
Oct. 8 Syracuse
Oct. 15 UTEP
Oct. 22 Memphis
Oct. 29 at East Carolina
Nov. 5 at SMU
Nov. 12 Houston
Nov. 19 at Rice
Nov. 26 at Hawaii

Holy Toledo. Has the coach survived another dreadful season at Tulane?

The Green Wave is trapped in a cycle of losing—no winning seasons since 2002 and six consecutive years of at least eight losses. The last four came with Bob Toledo in charge. The coach has won just 13 games during his tenure, failing to even approach contention in the West Division of Conference USA. Yet, here he is again, gainfully employed, with the usual company line about being on the verge of a turnaround. If it winds up as little more than spin, the coach's career figures to be circling the drain by December.

In the current staff's defense, Tulane is a very tough place to win at. The school that shares a state with mighty LSU also shares a stadium with the New Orleans Saints. Attracting blue-chippers to play for the Greenies just isn't going to happen. To be successful, the program must cultivate overlooked prep athletes, which hasn't happened with enough regularity on Toledo's watch.

The opener is still a couple of months away, which means optimism runs rampant on all campuses. Tulane is no different. The offense, fresh off its highest point total in six years, returns the promising backfield combination of QB Ryan Griffin and RB Orleans Darkwa. The defense returns eight starters, headed by a pair of former transfers, LB Trent Mackey and DE Dezman Moses. It's a veteran unit in several key areas, which should help fuel better overall results.

On May 11, offensive coordinator Dan Dodd resigned from his post in order to become the athletic director and varsity football coach at Capistrano Valley (Calif.) Christian School. Extenuating circumstances or not, you know you have issues as a program when a high school can lure away one of your top assistant coaches. Of course, who could blame Dodd for being proactive? Even he must've realized that if things don't turn around immediately, the entire staff will be looking for work in a few months.

What to watch for on offense: The next phase of QB Ryan Griffin's maturation process. The best passer in Bob Toledo's era, he made considerable strides in his sophomore year. Despite playing through pain, which required offseason foot and shoulder surgery, he managed to throw 14 touchdown passes and only eight interceptions. The hope is that he'll start turning the corner as the second half of his career begins, elevating the play of a questionable collection of receivers.

What to watch for on defense: Holy Moses. The Green Wave plucked a gem out of the Big Ten two years ago, when it enticed Dezman Moses to transfer from Iowa. One of Conference USA's top pass-rushing ends, he debuted in New Orleans with 11.5 stops for loss, six sacks, and three forced fumbles. Essentially a fleet-footed outside linebacker going up against lumbering tackles, he has too much explosive speed to be kept out of the backfield. He'll command double-teams, which will open the field up for Austen Jacks on the other side.

The team will be far better if … it learns how to open fast and close stronger. Too often in 2010, Tulane got in a deep hole from which it was unable to dig out. Over the course of 12 games, the Green Wave was outscored 232-119 in the first and final quarters combined, one of the many signs of a poorly-coached team. It needs to jump on opponents a lot quicker this fall, keeping the offense from having to abandon Orleans Darkwa and the running game.

The Schedule: The Green Wave starts out with a light scrimmage against SE Louisiana, and then it's on with the Tulsa showdown a home chance to make a huge statement right away in conference play. On the road for three straight games, including a date at UAB, and there aren't any sure things at Duke and Army to follow. Missing UCF and Southern Miss from the East is a huge break, and getting Memphis helps the cause. In West play, the Houston game is at home, but the team goes on the road for four of the final five games. Closing out at Hawaii is never a bad thing..

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore RB Orleans Darkwa. The next in a growing line of productive Green Wave runners, Darkwa was a revelation in his debut out of high school. The Second Team All-Conference USA selection was a reserve when 2010 began, but wound up rushing for 925 yards and 11 touchdowns. He employs a thick, 5-11 and 200-pound frame to extend plays by breaking through tackles. He has a chance to be the focal point of the offense for the next three seasons.

Best Defensive Player: Junior LB Trent Mackey. The leading man of an underrated ensemble of linebackers, Mackey is headed toward a spot on the all-league team at the end of the year. In his maiden season at Tulane, the Duke transfer bagged a team-high 124 tackles and three forced fumbles. An ideal fit to scope the entire field from middle linebacker, he operates with the right amount of instincts, tenacity, and fundamentals as a run stopper.

Key players to a successful season: The offensive linemen. The D will be improved, but this program's hopes rest with the offense's ability to put points on the board. QB Ryan Griffin, RB Orleans Darkwa, and WR Ryan Grant form a playmaking trio for the Green Wave. However, its potential could get squelched if the offensive line can't regroup from the loss of two long-time starters. Pat Husain replaces Pete Hendrickson at left tackle, with the directive to keep Griffin comfortable in the pocket. If the line can do its job, Tulane has the skill players to score often in 2011.

The season will be a success if ... the Green Wave can milk the seven wins needed for bowl-eligibility out the schedule. It will not be easy, but it rarely is for Tulane. For the sake of the program, and the fate of the coaching staff, it has to break through with that long-awaited postseason invitation. While the schedule isn't particularly thorny, getting to 7-6 will require the Green Wave to be darn near perfect in the Superdome this fall.

Key game: Oct. 8 vs. Syracuse. This is just the kind of challenging non-conference test that Tulane might be able to pass in 2011. It's not as if this squad hasn't handled a Big East opponent, upsetting Rutgers in Piscataway last fall. This time around, the Green Wave gets to host a team from the conference. With an upset here, it'll have a good chance to begin the second half of the year over the .500 mark.

2010 Fun Stats:
- Passing yards per game: Tulane 245.8 – Opponents 194.6
- Average yards per carry: Tulane 3.5 – Opponents 5.0
- First quarter scoring: Tulane 56 - Opponents 110

- 2011 Tulane Preview | 2011 Tulane Offense
- 2011 Tulane Defense | 2011 Tulane Depth Chart