2007 Tulane Preview

Posted May 16, 2007

It's a new start and a new era for Tulane football with Bob Toledo coming in to try to change things around. With a good nucleus of players, led by RB Matt Forte, the Green Wave could be far better.

Tulane Green Wave

Preview 2007

By Richard Cirminiello

- 2007 Tulane Offense Preview | 2007 Tulane Defense Preview
2007 Tulane Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Tulane Preview 

The Green Wave administration has a good memory.  It recalls that it was only nine years ago that high-scoring Tulane was 12-0 and a national darling.  In what it felt was a necessary step to recapture some of that magic, the school sacked Chris Scelfo after eight mostly forgettable seasons, replacing him with well-traveled Bob Toledo.

Toledo was, to the say the least, a curious choice to take over a program that’s had one winning season in the last six years and is struggling big-time to fill seats in a post-Katrina world.  Looking for one more chance to be a head coach at 60, he brings a positive attitude, a wide-open offensive approach and a nagging desire to go out on a high note after crashing and burning at the end of his UCLA career.  If Tulane is fortunate, it’ll have landed its Rich Brooks, an aging coach with West Coast ties and a knack for coaching up quarterbacks.

Head coach: Bob Toledo
1st year at Tulane
14th year overall: 78-62
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 22, Def. 24, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Tulane Players
1. RB Matt Forte, Sr.
2. FS David Skehan, Jr.
3. LB Evan Lee, Jr.
4. QB Scott Elliott, Jr.
5. SS Joe Goosby, Sr.
6. DE Antonio Harris, Sr.
7. DT Avery Williams, Sr.
8. DT Frank Morton, Sr.
9. C Aryan Barto, Sr.
10. WR Jeremy Williams, Soph.

CFN Prediction:

Sept. 8

Mississippi State

Sept. 15


Sept. 22

SE Louisiana

Sept. 29


Oct. 6

at Army

Oct. 13

at UAB

Oct. 20

at SMU

Oct. 27


Nov. 3


Nov. 10


Nov. 17

at Rice

Nov. 24

at East Carolina

2006 Schedule
2006 Record:

9/9 at Houston L 45-7
9/16 at Miss State W 32-29
9/23 at LSU L 49-7
9/30 SMU L 33-28
10/7 Rice W 38-24
10/14 at UTEP L 34-20
10/21 at Auburn L 38-13
10/28 Army W 42-28
11/4 at Marshall L 42-21
11/11 Southern Miss L 31-3
11/18 UCF W 10-9
11/24 at Tulsa L 38-3

The Green Wave has many priorities in 2007, but topping the list will be to develop a starting quarterback and a new pair of corners that can cover in a league that increasingly likes to get vertical.  Although Lester Ricard was hardly consistent, he almost single-handedly kept Tulane in games last year.  Taking his place will likely be last year’s backup and a veteran of three career starts, Scott Elliott.    

From top to bottom, no one at Tulane is underestimating the rebuilding job that lies ahead of it.  The talent and depth is light compared to the rest of Conference USA and the scars from the past few years haven’t completely healed.  With a few more points, a few less empty seats and a step closer to .500, the new staff will be on the right path.  These days, progress is measured a little differently than it was a decade ago in the Big Easy.

What to watch for on offense: If his Bruin teams provided any clues, Toledo will sport an entertaining offense that’ll run a bunch of trick plays and do whatever’s necessary to get vertical.  If the personnel supports it, the Green Wave will air it out and, at a minimum, be fun to watch.  Elliott has good arm strength and better mobility than Ricard, needing now to show he can be an every-day player.  His favorite target will be Jeremy Williams who caught 40 balls as a redshirt freshman last year.  For the passing game to really click, Tulane must work on its Forte yard dash.  Matt Forte is a complete back with 1,000-yard potential, but is recovering from a knee injury that cut short his junior season. 

What to watch for on defense: Last year’s rampant breakdowns on defense won’t go away overnight, but the staff likes what it inherited on the front seven.  Eight contributors return from last season, headed by run-stuffing tackle Frank Morton who’ll anchor the middle and flash all-conference quickness and potential.  The unit must create pressure to compensate for a rebuilt secondary that allowed 23 touchdown passes and 250 yards a game in 2006.   

The team will be far better if … it can dramatically improve its turnover margin.  Tulane is already fighting an uphill battle in terms of talent and depth, but when it finishes 112th nationally in takeaways, the Green Wave doesn’t have a fighting chance.  It’s incumbent on Thom Kaumeyer’s defense to create more unforced errors and Elliott to limit his mistakes in the passing game.

The Schedule: The Green Wave gets an unheard of four straight home games to start the season, but defending Conference USA champion Houston, Mississippi State, and LSU are in the mix. Paying the piper, Bob Toledo's crew has to go on the road for a three-game road stretch, but Army, UAB and SMU aren't exactly killers. Getting Memphis and UAB from the East is a big bonus, but finishing up the year at Rice and East Carolina means home games against Tulsa and UTEP might be must-wins.

Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Matt Forte. All he needs is a line in front of him to open up a few holes. Forte is 6-2 and 225 pounds with good speed and nice hands. He's been a major factor in the offense over the last three years, and now he'll become the main man in the new offense until the passing game comes around.

Best Defensive Player: Senior FS David Skehan. The former walk-on wasn’t even considered a starter last year at this time. All he did was lead the Green Wave with 80 tackles and four interceptions on his way to Third Team All-Conference USA honors. He might not be the fastest or most talented defensive back in the league, but he plays with a ton of heart and he never misses a tackle.    

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore WR Jeremy Williams. Someone has to emerge and become the type of receiver who makes opposing defenses quake. Williams showed a little bit of his potential finishing second on the team in receiving yards and making a few big plays from the outside Y position. If he doesn’t quickly grow into the number one receiver role, there will be a big problem early on.

The season will be a success if ... the Green Wave wins six games. It’s a tall order for a team and a program still trying to pick up the pieces from almost being non-existent a few years ago, but with the coaching change, to go along with a not-that-awful schedule, six wins is possible if the defense dramatically improves and the offense is efficient. Making a big stride towards the future by being more competitive could be enough in year one of the Toledo era.

Key game: Sept. 15 vs. Houston. How does Tulane measure up to the best? Houston isn't exactly the same team it was last season, but it's still among the class of the league and should be the favorite to win the West. The Green Wave has lost four straight to the Cougars and hasn't even been close in the last three.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Fourth quarter scoring: Opponents 129 – Tulane 61
- Red zone touchdowns: Opponents 36 of 58 (62%) – Tulane 19 of 40 (47%)
- Kickoff return average: Opponents 23.1 yards – Tulane 17.4 yards



Related Stories
2007 Tulane Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 16, 2007
2007 Tulane Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 16, 2007
2007 Tulane Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 16, 2007

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