CFN Preview 2013 - Tulane Green Wave
CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Tulane Green Wave
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By Richard Cirminiello
The upcoming season will mark the end of an era for Tulane. The program is eager to say good riddance to the past.
Head coach: Curtis Johnson
Second year: 2-10
Off. 22, Def. 26, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Tulane Players
1. PK Cairo Santos, Sr.
2. WR Ryan Grant, Sr.
3. RB Orleans Darkwa, Sr.
4. DE Julius Warmsley, Sr.
5. FS Darion Monroe, Soph.
6. CB Lorenzo Doss, Soph.
7. CB Jordan Batiste, Soph.
8. NT Chris Davenport, Sr.
9. WR Justyn Shackleford, Jr.
10. WR Xavier Rush, Jr.
8/31 Jackson State
9/7 South Alabama
9/14 at Louisiana Tech
9/21 at Syracuse
9/28 at ULM
10/5 North Texas
10/12 East Carolina
10/19 OPEN DATE
11/2 at Florida Atlantic
11/9 at UTSA
11/16 OPEN DATE
11/30 at Rice
For the Green Wave, this will be the final year playing in the Superdome, and the final year playing in Conference USA. Beginning in 2014, Tulane will operate out of a new on-campus, 30,000-seat stadium, while joining the American Athletic Conference, nee the Big East. Absolutely no one associated with the program is worried about breaking ties with the old days, because recent history isn't exactly littered with fond memories.
After winning just two games in 2012, Tulane has now strung together 10 consecutive losing seasons to sink near the bottom of the ranks among all FBS schools. Head coach Curtis Johnson was brought in last season to inject new energy into the squad, but all parties involved knew at the time that the reclamation project would be measured in multiple years.
The Green Wave was predictably uncompetitive a year ago, though Johnson and his staff did complete an important campaign of infusing their philosophy into a roster of impressionable and demoralized kids. Tulane, which rarely redshirts rookies, employed a lot of young kids, such as FS Darion Monroe and CB Lorenzo Doss, who figure to be more consistent this year. Sprinkling in veterans Orleans Darkwa at running back, Ryan Grant at wide receiver and Julius Warmsley along the D-line lends hope that the ingredients are in place for modest improvement in the standings.
The defense will again be a serious liability in New Orleans, making the closely-watched quarterback derby even more critical for the program's success. Nick Montana, Joe's son, and redshirt freshman Devin Powell will resume in the summer a tight competition that began in the fall.
It's a getaway year for Tulane, as it prepares for the start of an exciting new era of football in 2014. In the meantime, the program will be forced to live in the past for one more season. The Superdome will be empty, Conference USA will be demanding and bowl eligibility will once again be out of reach by late October. The Green Wave is taking baby steps where a giant leap is still required.
What to watch for on offense: The quarterback competition. So who earns the right to replace productive Ryan Griffin, junior college transfer Nick Montana or wide-eyed Devin Powell? Montana brings a steady hand and a recognizable name, while Powell brims with physical ability. The duo battled to a near dead heat in March, forcing the staff to delay a decision until August. If Tulane has any chance of improving in 2013, it's imperative that either Montana or Powell builds separation in the summer.
What to watch for on defense: The impact of Chris Davenport. The Green Wave just doesn't land LSU-caliber players, but Davenport is an exception. The former five-star Tiger has one year of eligibility remaining, and has decided to pursue his post-graduate degree at Tulane. Oh, he's also going to play football, shifting from O-line to D-line in an effort to help his new team at nose tackle. While the 6-4, 330-pound rental hasn't delivered a blue-chip career, his size and experience can only help a D that's aching for leadership and someone who can create traffic in running lanes.
The team will be far better if … it can tighten the screws in run defense. Tulane is most competitive when its offense is able to unleash all of the skill position players. However, that offense is going to remain idle on the sidelines if the D continues to yield more than five yards a carry, as was the case last year. The Green Wave was 114th nationally at stopping the run in 2012, a degree of futility that cannot be repeated this fall.
The Schedule: This should be one of the league's up-and-coming teams, and a 2-0 start against Jackson State and South Alabama should help get everything ready for the Conference USA opener at Louisiana Tech. While there's only one game outside of Louisiana until November – going to Syracuse on September 21st - a run of three straight September road games will be tough. East Carolina and Tulsa might be the league's two best teams, but they're coming to the Superdome wrapped around a much-needed bye week. Going on the road in early November to face Florida Atlantic and UTSA shouldn't be too bad, and there's a week off to get ready for UTEP in the home finale. Closing out the regular season at Rice might be a problem.
Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Ryan Grant. The Green Wave was waiting to see what Grant might do with a full season of health. The waiting ended in 2012. The team's best all-around playmaker erupted for 76 catches for 1,149 yards and six touchdowns to earn a spot on the All-Conference USA Team. The 6-1, 190-pounder has a multitude of skills, both physical and fundamental, that he uses to locate the open zones of a defense, and pick up yards after the reception.
Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Julius Warmsley. Other Green Wave defenders may post bigger numbers, but no one on this side of the ball holds more importance than Warmsley. He's a savvy and versatile lineman, who's excelled both inside and outside. As an honorable mention All-Conference USA tackle in 2012, he posted 26 tackles, six stops for loss and three sacks. As an end, the nimble 6-2, 271-pounder will use his quickness and agility to beat opposing tackles off the snap.
Key player to a successful season: Senior RB Orleans Darkwa. Head coach Curtis Johnson is searching for balance on offense. However, it'll only be possible if Darkwa regains the form he had during the first half of his career. Last season, the workhorse played at less than 100%, carrying the ball just 81 times for 241 yards and three touchdowns. When at full strength, though, No. 26 has the ability to lead the conference in rushing. Tulane needs to see that guy reemerge, and once again become the focal point of the offense.
The season will be a success if ... Tulane wins five games in a season for the first time since 2004. Yeah, few schools are going to celebrate a seven-loss season, but the Green Wave operates with a very different measuring stick. More than anything else, this program needs to experience progress, the kind that shows up on film as well as in the standings. Tulane does not face a daunting schedule this season, including a non-conference slate comprised of games with Jackson State, South Alabama, Syracuse and UL-Monroe.
Key game: Sept. 7 vs. South Alabama. When losing seasons are the norm, fast starts are a must. Before going on a tough three-game road swing, the Green Wave will have a chance to open 2013 with back-to-back momentum-inducing wins at home. If Tulane fails to hold serve against either Jackson State in the opener or South Alabama a week later, hope for progress could be snuffed out in September.
2012 Fun Stats:
- Rushing yards per game: Tulane 39.6 – Opponents 222.9
- Rushing touchdowns: Tulane 3 – Opponents 30
- Sacks: Tulane 19 - Opponents 34
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