Preview 2007 - Offense
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2007 Tulane Defense Preview
2007 Tulane Depth Chart
2006 CFN Tulane
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.
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
Overall depth, offensive line
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior QB
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:
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.