Preview 2008 - Offense
2008 CFN Tulane Preview
2008 CFN Tulane Offense
2008 CFN Tulane
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2006 CFN Tulane
What you need to know:
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
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
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
Weakness of the offense: The passing game, inexperience
in the backfield
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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 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
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.