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2008 Tulane Preview - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 20, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Tulane Green Wave Offense

Tulane Green Wave

Preview 2008 - Offense


- 2008 CFN Tulane Preview | 2008 CFN Tulane Offense
- 2008 CFN Tulane Defense | 2008 Tulane Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Tulane Preview | 2006 CFN Tulane Preview 

What you need to know: If the personnel supports it, Bob Toledo would like to run a balanced offense that isn’t afraid to air it out or employ the occasional trick play. Unfortunately, question marks at quarterback and running back could stifle his ingenuity. The workhorse out of the backfield will be Andre Anderson, a hard-running 210-pounder that’s ready to step out of Forte’s shadow. After his chief competition, Andre Agers, was suspended, the Green Wave was left with just one other scholarship tailback. Although Toledo might wait until August to name his starting quarterback, Kevin Moore clearly assumed the favorite’s role in the spring, showing the best arm strength and a good command of the offense. Whoever gets the nod will benefit from playing behind a veteran line and throwing to an improving receiving corps that’s led by Jeremy Williams.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Anthony Scelfo
111-205, 1,396 yds, 6 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Anthony Scelfo
57 carries, 171 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Jeremy Williams
46 catches, 773 yds, 5 TD

Star of the offense: Junior WR Jeremy Williams
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore QB Kevin Moore or redshirt freshman Joe Kemp
Unsung star on the rise: Junior RB Andre Anderson
Best pro prospect: Williams
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Williams, 2), Senior G Michael Parenton 3) Senior T Troy Kropog
Strength of the offense: The receivers, the left side of the line
Weakness of the offense: The passing game, inexperience in the backfield

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: The original four-man competition at quarterback has reached the semifinal round, with sophomore Kevin Moore the favorite to be under center when Tulane travels to Alabama Sept. 6. Bob Toledo and his staff love the potential of Moore, a strapping 6-5, 213-pounder with the arm strength to bring the long ball back to the Green Wave offense. The best pure passer on the roster and a surprisingly good athlete, he picked up eight valuable games of experience a year ago, going 30-of-54 for 432 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Projected Top Reserves: Moore is trying to fend off the challenge of redshirt freshman Joe Kemp, an unexpected contender and the No. 2 man on the depth chart coming out of spring. Like Moore, he’s got a nice pocket presence, and at 6-4 and 210 pounds, the size and strong arm to make all the throws. Physically, he has the tools to play in Conference USA, but to move up another notch, he’ll need to mature as a decision-make and game manager.

Although junior Anthony Scelfo took most of the snaps last year, he spent the spring playing baseball, and has begun to drift behind the competition. A good all-around athlete and the nephew of former head coach Chris Scelfo, he failed to impress as the starter, going 111-of-205 for 1,396 yards, six touchdowns, and seven interceptions. A nice insurance policy, he has a lot of ground to make up to regain his job.

Senior Scott Elliott has three letters and the most experience of the Tulane quarterbacks, but his days vying for the starting nod appear to be over. A nimble athlete with a quick release, he’s unsuccessful at consistently moving the offense or getting it into the end zone. Over three years and 210 attempts, he’s managed just six touchdown passes to 10 interceptions.

Watch Out For… Moore to maintain his view from atop the depth chart. Toledo wants to break the cycle of a revolving door at quarterback by naming a starter and sticking with him for the long haul. Moore has the skill set as a passer to be that guy, leaving Kemp, Scelfo, and Elliott to fight for the backup job.
Strength: Downfield passers. Now that Moore and Kemp have worked their way up the depth chart, the Green Wave boasts a pair of young hurlers capable of reaching the team’s fastest receivers downfield. Moore, in particular, has a rifle, which has the staff excited, provided he can tone it down on the short routes.
Weakness: Consistency. There’s a reason why Tulane was 11th in the league and 105th nationally in passing efficiency a year ago. The quarterbacks simply couldn’t string together back-to-back solid games, relying too much on the running of Matt Forte. Moore and Kemp look the part, but neither has played much football at this level, and will be prone to the typical mistakes young quarterbacks make.
Outlook: Toledo needs a quarterback to build the program around, one that can get the most from an underrated corps of Tulane receivers. With a strong summer, Moore will have a chance to be that guy for the coach and the Green Wave.
Rating: 5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Yes, it’s impossible to replace 2,000-yard rusher Matt Forte, but life will go on. The program has no other choice. Actually, the school is optimistic about junior Andre Anderson, who padlocked the starting job with an outstanding offseason. Buried behind Forte a year ago, the 6-0, 210-pound power back is capable of breaking tackles and has improved as a receiver out of the backfield. With little help behind him, Anderson is expected to be the workhorse, a role that could give the Green Wave its second 1,000-yard rusher in as many seasons.

Leading the way for Anderson at fullback will be sophomore Jordan Stephany, a 6-0, 243-pound bull with a letter already on his resume. He was up to the challenge as a true freshman, showing terrific blocking skills and the ability to catch the ball when asked. Stephany and the other fullbacks will also be taught some tailback in order to bolster the depth at the position.

Projected Top Reserves: Forte carried the ball 361 times, a number Anderson isn’t expected to approach. He’s going to need the occasional breather from redshirt freshman J.T. McDonald, who’s currently sitting in the two-hole. A punishing 5-9, 215-pound inside runner, he’s a good all-around athlete who’ll use his height and leverage as an advantage. The Green Wave needs McDonald to carry the ball 5-10 times a game and provide some punch between the tackles.

Not far behind Stephany is sophomore Cody Blackwelder, another fullback who lettered as a true freshman. At 6-2 and 225 pounds, he did little more than block a year ago, but showed enough as a runner and receiver in practice to be considered an emergency tailback for the depleted Tulane ground game.

Watch Out For…: redshirt freshman Andre Agers. Agers was expected to be the backup that injected some flash into the running game, but that was before he got suspended in April for violating a team rule. Tulane can use him back in the fold to add depth to one of the program’s thinnest positions.
Strength: Anderson. With a veteran line and more experienced fullbacks in front of him, the junior is poised to step outside of Forte’s and begin carving out his own identity. Anderson has the size and just enough giddyup to deliver a strong debut in a conference that labors to stop the run.
Weakness: Depth. Even if Anderson stands out in his first season as the starter, he’ll have no proven depth behind him. McDonald and Agers are redshirt freshman, with the latter’s season still very much in limbo.
Outlook: Although Forte set the bar ridiculously high, it doesn’t mean Anderson needs to rush for 2,000 yards to be a success. Provided he doesn’t wear down from the increased workload, he’ll be a more productive successor than many are expecting.
Rating: 5.5

Receivers

Projected Starters: Four of last year’s five most productive receivers return, giving the new quarterback a solid set of hands to build the passing game around. The leading man is junior flanker Jeremy Williams, an all-conference candidate who broke out with a team-high 46 receptions for 773 yards and five touchdowns. Tulane’s big play guy at 6-1 and 203 pounds, he keeps getting stronger and is forcing the staff to find new ways to get the ball in his hands.

Back at split end is senior Brian King, who’s coming off a career-high 30 grabs for 442 yards and two touchdowns. Long and lean at 6-1 and 190 pounds, he can go above the defensive back to make a play or zoom past him when he bites. King is polished and talented enough to prevent defenses from doubling up Williams.

While it didn’t work as planned in 2007, Tulane will continue trying to get the tight end more involved in the passing game. That means senior Justin Kessler will be asked to do a lot more than he has in his first three seasons. Primarily a special teams player and blocker on running plays, the 6-4, 260-pounder broke his hand in the spring, but still played with a cast on.

Projected Top Reserves: Tulane’s top three receivers off the bench all earned letters a year ago. Behind Williams, senior Michael Batiste is a 6-3, 190-pound with the jets to get behind opposing secondaries. While he’ll drop a few too many passes, he has starting experience and caught a career-best 13 passes for 215 yards as a junior.

Although junior Chris Dunn didn’t emerge as expected, catching only four balls for 36 yards and a score, Tulane remains intrigued by his 6-2, 213-pound frame and penchant for boxing out defenders in practice. He’ll be behind King at split end, determined to finally turn all of his physical gifts into production in the fall.

At 5-11 and 183 pounds, sophomore Casey Robottom is the gnat of this group, but can bring a jolt of energy and a wiggle to the passing game. He caught 11 passes for 182 yards, showing an ability to make plays in space and go out and fetch the ball from the quarterback. A darting playmaker, Robottom will be used in myriad ways on offense and special teams.

If Kessler doesn’t evolve into the pass catcher the team expects, it’ll turn to sophomore Tyler Kelm, a raw, but rapidly developing player at tight end. A basketball player throughout high school, he’s 6-5 and 238 pounds with the ball skills and athletic ability to eventually become a weapon on intermediate routes.

Watch Out For… Kelm. Toledo is determined to get the tight end more involved in the passing game, and Kessler hasn’t proven he can be a reliable target. Kelm, on the other hand, has a high ceiling and a size-speed combination that could propel him into the lineup before too long.
Strength: Size. Robottom aside, all of the receivers on the two-deep go at least 6-1 and 190 pounds, which will allow them to create match up edges versus most defensive backfields in Conference USA. In fact, Robottom is the only receiver on the roster that isn’t over six-feet tall.
Weakness: More production beyond the starters. Williams and King combined to catch 76 passes a year ago, but after that pair, the drop-off was precipitous. The Green Wave needs to develop a third receiver that can slide into the lineup if necessary, and catch more than a pass or two a game.
Outlook: Williams leads a deep and physically-gifted group of pass-catchers into the 2008 season. If he gets enough support from the quarterback and the rest of the receivers, he’ll set career-highs in every category for a second consecutive year.
Rating: 6.5

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: Four starters return to a line that was instrumental in Matt Forte finishing No. 2 nationally in rushing. The unit is especially strong on the left side, where a couple of seniors, T Troy Kropog and G Michael Parenton, are looking to build on honorable mention All-Conference USA seasons. Parenton is the program’s most consistent blocker, a durable fourth-year starter who has played every position on the line during his career. At 6-2 and 295 pounds, he’s particularly effective as a run blocker, locking on to defenders long enough for the back to squirt through the hole.

As Kropog enters his third year as the starter, he continues to get more effective on running downs and pass plays. The 6-6, 292-pounder has the long arms needed to halt pass rushers coming around the edge and has worked on adding upper body strength and developing a mean streak. Kropog’s size and agility give him a chance to play for a contract next season.

Sophomore Andrew Nierman is sliding from guard to center in an attempt to replace last year’s starter Aryan Barto. He became the first true freshman lineman in a decade to start every game at Tulane, grading out at 88% for the season. The 6-1, 300-pound Nierman proved to be tough at the point of attack, laying the ground floor of what’s going to be a very good career.

On the right side, the Green Wave features 6-4, 296-pound sophomore guard Tyler Rice and 6-7, 296-pound junior Nick Landry. Rice started five games as a true freshman, learning on the job and adding more bulk in the weight room. Better suited on the inside, where he’s extremely strong and less likely to get exposed, he welcomed the opportunity to change positions in the offseason.

Landry is the lone lineman that wasn’t a regular in 2007. While has upside and a great frame to build upon, he’s also an unfinished product in need of improved upper body strength. Landry had a slight edge at right tackle coming out of spring, but is no certainty to hold off hard-charging sophomore Pete Hendrickson in August.

Projected Top Reserves: Like Landry, Hendrickson is the kind of raw tackle that the coaching staff believes can be molded into a top-tier pass protector. At 6-7 and 285 pounds, he’s still too light to handle the league’s tougher ends, but has some of the best feet on the team and he continues getting better with his hands. If Hendrickson’s strength ever catches up with his agility, he could become the prototype at the position.

Junior Travis Olexa brings experience to the second unit, a physical tackle that can also move inside to play guard. A nasty 6-4, 294-pounder, he doesn’t have the quickest feet on the unit, but has lettered in each of the last two seasons and can destroy opposing linemen when he doesn’t have to make blocks on the move.

The veteran of the reserve guards is junior John Landa, a 6-3, 318-pounder who’s gotten into the rotation in each of the last two seasons. A better road grader than pass protector, he’ll be spending the next few months trying to close the gap on Rice on the right side.

Watch Out For… the situation at center. Nierman is one of the five best Tulane linemen, but he’s still not a slam dunk to be snapping the ball in the fall. He received mixed reviews in the spring, leaving the door open for redshirt freshman Joey Ray, or for Rice to be relocated from his guard spot.
Strength: Run blocking. The front wall did an exceptional job last year of winning the battles at the line of scrimmage and creating daylight for Forte to author his record-breaking season. Best of all, the unit has gotten, stronger, and more experienced since 2007, losing just one contributor to graduation.
Weakness: Center. While Nierman has a great future at Tulane, he’s not a center. At least he isn’t at this time. Losing Barto at the pivot leaves a sizable hole that the Green Wave could spend the next few months trying to fill.
Outlook: Forte was amazing in 2007, but he didn’t get all of those yards on his own. The Tulane offensive line grew up last fall, and with so many familiar faces back in New Orleans, it’s primed to take another step toward being one of the more underrated units in Conference USA.
Rating: 6