2007 Tulane Preview - Offense

Posted May 16, 2007

Preview 2007 Tulane Green Wave Offense

Tulane Green Wave

Preview 2007 - Offense

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

What you need to know: New head coach Bob Toledo would like to get vertical get the passing game moving, but it's not going to happen at the expense of the ground attack. With a good back in Matt Forte to work with, the Green Wave will try to run the ball to create some semblance of balance, but the offensive line might not be in place to do it. Scott Elliott is the odds-on favorite to win the starting quarterback job in a four-man race, and he has some decent young receivers to work with.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Scott Elliott
229-400, 2,795 yds, 18 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Matt Forte
163 carries, 859 yds, 8 TD
Receiving: Jeremy Williams
40 catches, 484 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RB Matt Forte
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Scott Elliott
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Brian King
Best pro prospect: Sophomore WR Jeremy Williams
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Forte, 2) Williams, 3) C Aryan Barto
Strength of the offense: Veteran runners
Weakness of the offense:
Overall depth, offensive line


Projected Starter: The departed Lester Ricard was hardly consistent, but he had a huge arm that kept the Green Wave in many games and won’t be easy to replace.  Although the first gunslinger in the Bob Toledo era won’t officially be decided until sometime in August, the smart money is on junior Scott Elliott, last year’s backup.  He may not have Ricard’s cannon, but he’s easily the most experienced of the three contenders, has a quick release and can escape pressure when the pocket inevitably collapses around him.  The most complete of the Tulane quarterbacks, Elliott has a chance to flourish in 2007 if he quickly absorbs the nuances of the newly installed West Coast offense and limits his turnovers.                

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Anthony Scelfo, the nephew of former coach Chris Scelfo, and redshirt freshman Kevin Moore went toe-to-toe with Elliott in the spring, sharing reps with the first unit.  While Scelfo is the best athlete of the three and manages the offense well, at just 5-10 and 192 pounds, he has serious limitations on passing downs.  He’s great on the move, but the Green Wave offensive line wasn’t constructed to protect a quarterback that’s constantly rolling out. 

The coaching really likes Moore’s potential and natural gifts, even if he still has a lot to learn at the position.  He’s 6-5 and 230 pounds with an arm that’s reminiscent of the one Ricard used to uncork in the Superdome.  Once Moore polishes up his reads and accuracy, he’ll be an even bigger factor in this derby.                              

Watch Out For more low-risk passes to be thrown in the direction of the tight ends, especially as the offense digests a new system.  Tulane has a couple of good ones in Gabe Ratliff and Justin Kessler who were underutilized before Toledo took over the program.
Strength: Elliott.  If he can pick up the offense without a hitch, Elliott has the receivers and the skill set to be the next really productive Green Wave quarterback in his debut as a full-time starter.
Weakness: Proven backups.  If, on the other hand, Elliott disappoints or suffers a prolonged injury, Tulane’s in big trouble because neither Scelfo nor Moore is ready to pilot this offense.
Outlook: As it inches toward respectability, Tulane needs a quarterback that can rally the troops and distribute the ball without too many mistakes.  Elliott is qualified to be that guy for the program in 2007.                 
Rating: 5.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: The offensive star of is senior Matt Forte, who’s been held back in recent years by injuries and running behind the Green Wave offensive line.  He’s coming off a knee injury that required surgery and cost him the final three games of 2006, but will be ready for the start of the season.  When healthy, he’s a 6-2, 225-pound multi-dimensional weapon who can get tough yards inside, bounce outside in a hurry and catch passes out of the backfield.  In three years and 18 starts, he’s rushed for 2,138 yards and 16 touchdowns, while catching 71 passes for 683 yards and five more scores.  Head coach Bob Toledo wants to employ a physical running game that wears down Conference USA defenses, a role Forte has shown he’s more than capable of handling this fall. 

Toledo also favors the use of a fullback, a position that is extremely thin in 2007.  Sophomore Jeremy McKinney is an unknown commodity after switching from linebacker last September and seeing action in eight games on special teams.  The job is his for now, but he’ll be very vulnerable to the likes of freshmen Cody Blackwelder, Josh Smith and Jordan Stephany who’ll try to make a move in August.

Projected Top Reserves: Forte has had durability issues in the past, which makes the presence of seniors Ray Boudreaux and Ade Tuyo a luxury.  Both have played a lot of football for the program and won’t shy away from the spotlight if an opportunity presents itself.  At 5-10 and 200 pounds, Boudreaux has played some fullback in his career, collecting 85 carries for 343 yards and two touchdowns.  Tuyo is also more of a power back that can’t be arm tackled and is very effective in short yardage.  Like Boudreaux, he’s played fullback at Tulane, but has a little more burst than his classmate.    

Watch Out For…: one of the true freshmen to win the fullback job in August.  Considering the shortcomings of the line, Toledo wants Forte to have a lead blocker in the backfield, and McKinney doesn’t appear to be the answer.
Strength: Senior depth.  None of the top three backs on the depth chart has been particularly durable throughout his Green Wave career, so it helps that each is a senior with relevant reps on the resume.
Weakness: The offensive line.  Tulane has a nice collection of backs, but it’s not always evident when they’re taking initial contact at the line of scrimmage.  The Green Wave averaged a miserable 3.1 yards a carry in 2006, primarily because the line failed to do its job.
Outlook: Forte is the right back in the right place to flourish in Toledo’s new offense.  He’ll author the first 1,000-yard season of his college career, provided the line blocks and he can stay off the trainer’s table.
Rating: 6


Projected Starters: Now that last year’s top receivers, Preston Brown and Damarcus Davis, have graduated, it’s time for sophomore flanker Jeremy Williams to emerge into Tulane’s go-to guy.  In his first season, he caught 40 passes for 484 yards and two touchdowns, including a ten-catch effort in the next to last game of the year.  Well-sized at 6-2 and 195 pounds, he’s determined to make more plays downfield after averaging just 12 yards a catch in his debut. 

At split end will be junior Brian King, another big and physical receiver that the coaches believe can develop into an all-league type player in the second half of his career.  Although he didn’t exactly explode last year, catching 16 balls for 272 yards and three scores, he might in 2007 now that his playing time is about to ramp up. 

With the offense determined to get the tight end more involved in the passing game, junior Gabe Ratliff is poised for a solid first year as the full-time starter.  More of a receiver than a glorified guard, he has the speed and athleticism to excel either as a traditional tight end or in the H-back role that’s being implemented.                                     

Projected Top Reserves: Quality depth is going to be a trademark of this year’s Green Wave wideouts.  Junior Michael Batiste has the 6-3 size and 4.5 speed to make people forgive his occasional dropped passes.  He’s started games in each of the last two years, catching 12 balls for 132 yards and a touchdown in an abbreviated role last year. 

Sophomore Chris Dunn is another big target with a letter and valuable playing time already on his resume.  Built like a tight end that can bust a seam, he started two games in 2006 and finished sixth on the team with 15 catches for 189 yards. 

At 5-11 and 175 pounds, redshirt freshman Casey Robottom looks out of place in this group, but he brings a jolt of energy and a certain wiggle that’s helped elevate him to the second unit behind Williams.  Very quick and explosive, Tulane will look for ways to get him in space this fall. 

Kenneth Guidroz
brings 12 games of starting experience to this young collection of Tulane receivers.  One of the team’s strongest skill position players at 6-3 and 210 pounds, he caught ten passes a year ago for 150 yards and two scores, despite only appearing in half the games.             

Watch Out For… minimal, if any drop-off from last year’s receivers.  Even without Davis and Brown, this group is brimming with upside and is about ready to deliver a couple more big and fast pass-catchers to the NFL.
Strength: Size.  Robottom aside, the Tulane receivers are very tall which is going to allow the coaches to create match up advantages versus most defensive backfields in Conference USA.
Weakness: Yards after the catch.  The Green Wave is lacking receivers that can get behind a secondary or take a short hitch and run for a mile.  Despite having Ricard’s cannon at their disposal, all but King struggled to produce big plays last season.
Outlook: Williams is the best of the bunch, however, he will not have to carry the passing attack by himself.  The Green Wave could have a different receiving star every Saturday, helping along the new starting quarterback and setting the stage for an even better situation in 2008.
Rating: 6

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: Although Tulane is in good shape at the skill positions, it won’t look that way this fall if the offensive line doesn’t cooperate by controlling the line of scrimmage once in a while.  Last season, the unit allowed 29 sacks and paved the way for the nation’s 105th-ranked offense.  The only given of the group is junior Michael Parenton, an all-league contender and the team’s most consistent blocker, two years running.  Exceptionally versatile, he debuted as a right tackle, played center in 2006 and is being considered at left guard for this season. 

Next to Parenton will be junior left tackle Troy Kropog, provided he’s able to withstand the pressure being applied by senior Scott Holt.  A 12-game starter last year, Kropog has great size at 6-6 and 305 pounds, but needs to show more toughness this season. 

If Parenton remains at guard, senior Aryan Barto will fill the opening at center.  Undersized at 6-4 and 280 pounds, he’ll be less of a liability at center than he was as a starting guard in 2006.  After a brief experiment at tight end last year, redshirt freshman Pete Hendrickson is back at right tackle where he figures to start this fall.  Although still needing to get stronger, he has the long arms and good feet to excel at the position once he gets more reps. 

One of the more physical Green Wave lineman, junior Travis Olexa is slated to start at right guard.  However, he hasn’t played much football since getting to the school and is in serious danger of getting exposed by some of the league’s more seasoned defensive linemen.

Projected Top Reserves: The coaching staff would rather see Kropog win the job at left tackle, but if he’s not ready, Holt will slide into the position.  A senior with some game experience, he’s not going to blow anyone away with his skill set.  Whether or not he can win the right tackle job this year, sophomore Nick Landry is a big part of the future at Tulane.  A 6-7, 309-pounder, he lettered as a true freshman in 2006, picking up a start in the October game with UTEP. 

Sophomore Tyler Rice has grown into one of the strongest Green Wave lineman since arriving and will provide depth at both guard and center this year.  Like Landry, he gives Tulane hope for the future regarding the play in the trenches. 

Kevin Leary
redshirted last year after being one of the program’s most heralded recruits of 2006.  A very good athlete at 6-3 and 294 pounds, he might push Parenton back to guard in 2008 if he shows he’s ready to take over at center.       

Watch Out For… sophomore guard Oscar Ponce de Leon.  An explorer in his own right, Ponce de Leon has traveled from defensive tackle to offensive guard since the end of last season.  Still learning the new position, he has the size and strength that’s been missing from the Tulane interior for years.
Strength: The kids.  Generally speaking, the offensive line is not going to be a team strength at Tulane in 2007, however, with talented underclassmen, such as Hendrickson, Leary, Rice and Landry, it’s only about a year away from being a vastly improved unit.
Weakness: Toughness.  As it’s assembled right now, the line just isn’t strong enough to hold up against physical defensive fronts, a sobering reality that isn’t likely to change this season.
Outlook: The Green Wave line returns with a little more experience from last year, but it’s still a good year away being an asset, especially since entirely new blocking schemes must be learned before Mississippi State visits on Sept. 8.                  
Rating: 4.5


Related Stories
2007 Tulane Preview
 -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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