What you need to know ...
The offense struggled way too much last season with no
consistent ground game and not enough from the passing attack.
This is a team built on getting into shootouts, and it wasn't
able to keep pace. The talent is there at quarterback with
Lester Ricard needing a bounce-back year, and he'll have targets
to throw to with Preston Brown, Damarcus Davis, Brian King and
Kenneth Guidroz all able to produce. Matt Forte is a
nice-looking back who needs more work behind a line that can
pass protect, but can't blow anyone off the ball.
Passing: Lester Ricard
166-323, 1,932 yds, 16 TD, 12 INT
Rushing: Matt Forte
169 carries, 655 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Preston Brown
47 catches, 720 yds, 6 TD
Star of the offense: Senior QB Lester Ricard
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
OT Troy Kropog
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Brian King
Best pro prospect: Ricard
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Ricard, 2) WR Preston
Brown, 3) RB Matt Forte
Strength of the offense: Receivers, quarterbacks
Weakness of the offense:
There's plenty of talent here to get the offense moving,
but it might take a little while to get back into the swing of
things and get the 2004 momentum back. Lester Ricard has NFL
potential and could quickly get back on the radar if he can lead
the team to wins. Scott Elliott and Nick Cannon are experienced
reserves with great arms.
The key to the unit: Move the chains and limit
mistakes. Tulane likes to throw the ball, but the quarterbacks
have to complete more than 52% of their passes and must cut down
on the 16 interceptions.
Quarterback Rating: 7
- Lester Ricard, Sr. - 166-323, 51%, 1,932 yds, 16 TD, 12
With all the outside factors and the overall problems with the
program last year, it can be forgiven if Ricard was one of the
year's biggest disappointments. The 6-5, 222-pound senior has a
rocket arm and the skills to potentially be even better than NFL
first round draft picks J.P. Losman and Patrick Ramsey, but he
pressed way too much last year trying to make things happen and
was, at best, inconsistent. He bombed away for a ton of yards
over the first half of the season, but the team wasn't winning
so he was part of a rotation over the second half of the year.
It's his job for the taking, and he needs to come up with
steady, huge numbers to turnaround the woeful attack.
- Scott Elliott, Soph. - 48-92, 52%, 515 yds, 4 TD, 4
While not the physically imposing player that Lester Ricard and Nick
Cannon are, Elliott is a big-time passer with a great arm. He
came in over the second half of the season and threw for 298
yards and three touchdowns in a loss to Rice, and got a little
bit of work in three other games to try to move the offense, but
he's the clear second-stringer going into this year.
- Nick Cannon, Sr. - 2-5, 49 yds
Cannon has the size and the talent to be a productive passer,
but injuries were a problem early in his career and then he fell
to the third man in the mix last season. He has enough
experience to step in and start if needed.
Partly by offensive design and partly because of
ineptitude, Tulane finished 114th in the nation in rushing
averaging a mere 89 yards per game. Expect that to change a bit
with Matt Forte looking good enough this spring to force more of
a focus on the ground game. Jovon Jackson is gone, so it'll be
up to Ray Boudreaux and the speedy Ade Tayo to fill in the role
as the number two back.
The key to the unit: The yards per carry have to come
up after averaging a mere 2.9 per try last season.
Running Back Rating: 5.5
- Matt Forte, Jr. - 169 carries, 655 yds, 3.9 ypc, 4 TD,
23 catches, 163 yds, 7.1 ypc, 1 TD
After two decent seasons, the 6-1, 224-pound junior appears on
the verge of a huge season. He proved to be a savior as a true
freshman, and then he turned into the team's top runner last
season with a steady campaign up until a 137-yard season finale
against Southern Miss. With his hands and quickness, he should
get the ball in his hands at least 25 times a game.
- Fullback Ade Tuyo, Jr. - 2 carries, 4 yards
A fullback in name only, the 5-11, 203-pound junior has 4.4
speed and isn't much of a blocker. He can play tailback at times
and needs to get more involved in the offense to get him on the
move with the ball in his hands.
- Ray Boudreaux, Jr. - 8 carries, 29 yes, 1 catch, 7
Part fullback and part tailback, the 200-pound junior finished
as the team's third leading rusher even with only eight caries.
He has the speed to potentially be used as a kick returner.
- Fullback Ian Miller, Sr.
Now here's a pure fullback. Tulane, when it uses a fullback,
often throws out a glorified extra tailback, but the 253-pound
Miller is a pure blocker with the hands to be used in the
passing game. He hasn't done anything over the last three
seasons, and now he might be needed to get the ground game
There's a great mix of experience, size and
speed throughout the receiving corps with big Preston Brown back
as a number one target and Damarcus Davis and Kenneth Guidroz
providing the wheels to make more big plays. Brian King is a
terrific prospect who should quickly become a major playmaker.
The tight end situation is the most interesting with three great
starting options. Jerome Landry is the biggest of the bunch,
while Gabe Ratcliff and Justin Kessler are more like big wide
The key to the unit: More deep plays. All the
experience and all the speed has to result in a more dangerous
Receiver Rating: 6
- Damarcus Davis, Sr. - 28 catches, 280 yds, 10 ypc, 3 TD
The most productive returning Tulane receiver, Davis has been a
big part of the mix for the last three seasons with 17 starts
and 65 career catches. He hasn't been that much of a deep threat
so far, but he'll have to be playing at the outside X position.
He has the speed to do it.
- Kenneth Guidroz, Jr. - 13 catches, 150 yds, 11.5 ypc
Able to do a little of everything well, the 6-3, 209-pound
junior can play inside or out. His physical style makes him
great for the Z position where he should grow into more of a
- Preston Brown, Sr. - 47 catches, 720 yds, 15.3 ypc, 6
Considered a top special teams performer, the 6-4, 232-pound
Brown also turned into a third-team All-Conference USA receiver
after leading the team in all receiving categories. He might not
be all that fast, but he finds ways to make plays and showed the
ability to catch the deep ball with a 68-yard touchdown against
- Tight end Jerome Landry, Sr. - 1 catch, 9 yds
Landry is still trying to bounce back from a serious knee injury
a few years ago. At 6-4 and 260 pounds, he's the team's biggest
tight end and will be the best blocker of the three playing the
- Brian King, Soph. - 15 catches, 189 yds, 12.6 ypc,
On the verge of being the team's new receiving star, King had a
nice freshman season making a few big catches early and getting
his feet wet throughout the year. He'll be the starting H
receiver when Tulane goes to four-wide sets and should grow into
a top target in a big hurry.
- Fred Smith, Jr.
More of a kick returner than a receiver so far in his
career, the 5-8, 183-pound junior is back after missing all of
last year. He's lightning fast with the deep speed to push Damarcus Davis at the X position.
- Tight end Gabe Ratcliff, Jr. - 4 catches, 27 yds, 6.8
Ratcliff has a little bit of starting experience with most of
his work coming on special teams. A phenomenal athlete, he'll be
used this year as more of a receiver than Jerome Landy.
- Tight end Justin Kessler, Soph.
One of the team's best blends of size, speed, and athleticism,
the 6-4, 234-pound sophomore was a high school sprinter who
should become a field stretching tight end in the rotation.
Tulane's front five struggled to get the running game
going, but wasn't all that bad in pass protection. If the left side can
step up and be consistent, things should be better thanks to the return
of Donald Madlock at right guard and the expected emergence of young
players like tackle Tyler Rice and center Michael Parenton to improve
the overall talent level.
The key to the unit: Consistency for the ground
attack. The line has to pave the way for more than 2.9 yards per carry
and 979 rushing yards.
Offensive Line Rating: 5.5
- OT Troy Kropog, Soph.
Kropog got a little bit of playing experience with two starts at right
tackle last season. He's not huge, but the 6-4, 287-pounder is athletic
and should grow into a decent pass blocker.
- OG Aryan Barto, Jr.
After missing all of last year, he 6-4, 262-pound junior will get the
first crack at the left guard job. Because of his lack of bulk, he'll
end up rotating with the 290-pound Travis Olexa.
- C Michael Parenton, Soph.
One of the team's bright young offensive stars, the 6-3, 292-pound
Parenton earned All-Freshman honors after a surprisingly consistent
season at right tackle. Now he'll move to the middle where he should be
a steady anchor for the next three seasons.
- OG Donald Madlock, Sr.
Madlock banged up his shoulder last spring and was questionable for the
start of the season. As it turned out, he missed the entire 2005
campaign after undergoing surgery, and now he's ready to roll. He has 22
starts at right guard and should be an instant boost to the line. The
295-pound senior is a strong run blocker.
- OT Derek Rogers, Sr.
Rogers has been a regular on the line for the last three seasons
starting nine games last year at right tackle. Even though he has the
size a 6-5 and 309 pounds, and has more than enough experience, he'll
have to fight with Tyler Rice for the starting right tackle job.
- T Tyler Rice, RFr.
Rice has all the talent to be the team's top blocker over the next
few seasons. He was a great recruit for the program with the talent to
become an all-star pass protector. The 6-5, 285-pounder will battle with
Derek Rogers for the right tackle job.
- C Percy Huff, Soph.
At 6-4 and 316 pounds, Huff is the biggest player on the line. He'll
start out as a backup center, but he has too much bulk not to see a
little time at guard.