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2010 Tulane Preview - Offense
Tulane QB Ryan Griffin
Tulane QB Ryan Griffin
Posted May 17, 2010 2010 Preview - Tulane Green Wave Offense

Tulane Green Wave

Preview 2010 - Offense

- 2010 Tulane Preview | 2010 Tulane Offense
- 2010 Tulane Defense | 2010 Tulane Depth Chart
- Tulane Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

What You Need To Know: At worst, Tulane should have the kind of freewheeling attack that can move the ball and drag other teams into shootouts. It hasn’t happened under the direction of Bob Toledo. Even last season, with star RB Andre Anderson and WR Jeremy Williams back from injuries, the Green Wave still ranked last in Conference USA scoring. Over the last two seasons, it’s been held to single-digits seven times. Now, coordinator Dan Dodd is looking to install more of a vertical passing game, a departure from the conventional West Coast system. At face value, it seems like an odd fit since second-year QB Ryan Griffin doesn’t have a rifle and the receivers have no proven deep threat. After whetting the locals’ appetite last November, Griffin is naturally the key to any turnaround. He’ll get unexpected support from an exciting collection of young backs, while looking to maximize the playmaking skills of up-and-coming WR D.J. Banks.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Ryan Griffin
141-222, 1,382 yds, 9 TDs, 6 INTs
Rushing: Payten Jason
19 carries, 85 yds
Receiving: Casey Robottom
50 catches, 584 yds, 2 TDs

Star of the defense: Senior LB Grant Fleming
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior DT Jordan Tapp
Unsung star on the rise: Junior DE Nate Douglas
Best pro prospect: Junior CB Dwight Bentley
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Fleming, 2) LB Daylon McCoy, 3) Bentley
Strength of the defense: Cornerbacks, Depth
Weakness of the defense: Pass Rush, Run Defense


Projected Starter: Hey, if nothing else, the Green Wave looks to have found its quarterback of the future last year. Sophomore Ryan Griffin emerged midway through his first year and played well as the starter over the final six games. He finished 141-of-222 for 1,382 yards, nine touchdowns, and six interceptions, playing especially well in November. Although he looks the part at 6-5 and 215 pounds, he doesn’t have a powerful, leaning instead on his ability to fit the ball into a tight window.

Projected Top Reserves: The heavy favorite to backup Griffin is 6-5, 239-pound senior Kevin Moore, a veteran of 24 career games and more than 400 passing attempts. A 12-game starter in 2008, he struggled in the West Coast offense last year and couldn’t get on the field. However, he does possess a strong arm, which fits nicely into Tulane’s plan of throwing downfield more, and is coming off his best offseason.

A distant third is 6-4, 215-pound Joe Kemp, who’s more likely to get on the field as a wide receiver this fall. He was sporadic early in 2009, going 84-of-130 for 1,038 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions. Still, he has the athleticism and playmaking ability to force the staff into finding him a spot on the field.

Watch Out For .... Griffin’s timing. Not only is the offense being tweaked, but he’s also getting introduced to a bunch of new pass-catchers. Griffin was out of synch at times throughout the spring, but has the rest of the offseason to get on the same page with those receivers.
Strength: Experience. Say what you will about the Green Wave quarterbacks, but few programs in America can boast three hurlers with starting experience. If nothing else, the program is immune to having to put a wide-eyed rookie in the huddle in the event of an injury. Moore started the entire season two years ago, which makes for an underrated security blanket.
Weakness: Consistency. There’s a good reason why the Green Wave was no higher than No. 8 in Conference USA passing efficiency the last two years. The quarterbacks have been erratic, to say the least. Now, Griffin made a difference late in the year, but it’s important for that to become a trend in 2010.
Outlook: For the first time since J.P. Losman in 2003, Tulane is cautiously optimistic that it has a quarterback to build around. Griffin provided a spark late last year, but was it an aberration or a sign of things to come? Not only must he elevate his game in Year 2, but he’ll have to do so without his 1,000-yard receiver and rusher.
Rating: 5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Tulane will spend the offseason trying to replace Andre Anderson, a 1,000-yard rusher and legitimate workhorse. Coming out of spring, the frontrunner was 5-9, 187-pound junior Albert Williams, but he’ll have to work to maintain the pole position. Though he’s played sparingly in his career and has had some knee issues, he’s also enjoyed a solid offseason. Tougher than his size might indicate, he’s a speedy back who makes hard cuts and has soft hands.

When the Green Wave uses a fullback, 6-1, 244-pound junior Kasey Stelly is likely to be trotting off the sidelines. Strictly a bodyguard for the tailbacks, he’s an unselfish player who had just one carry and two receptions in 10 games last season.

Projected Top Reserves: There’s an interesting battle brewing for the backup job behind Williams. The veteran is 5-9, 212-pound junior J.T. McDonald, who has lettered in each of the last two seasons, but played in only five games in 2009. A thick and physical runner, he’ll run through tacklers who don’t wrap him up.

The injection of youth in this equation is being provided by 5-11, 184-pound sophomore Stephen Barnett, a key recruit from last February. A quick and choppy runner, he wastes no movement getting through the hole and has excellent vision. After rushing just nine times for 12 yards, he’s going to get more opportunities to make plays in his second year.

Watch Out For .... the health of 5-11, 193-pound sophomore Payten Jason . He’s the future at the position, but he almost missed spring to recover from last October’s knee injury. At the time, he was running second to Anderson, rushing 19 times for 85 yards and impressing the staff. He has breakaway speed and the soft hands to be a dangerous weapon screens.
Strength: Potential playmakers. While young and relatively untested, the Green Wave has three different backs capable of zipping through the line and forcing a defensive back to make a play. Williams, Barnett, and Jason all bring some much-needed flash to the backfield.
Weakness: A proven go-to guy. Tulane’s leading returning rusher went for 85 yards in his first year, and is working his way back from a serious knee injury. The options may be plentiful heading into 2010, but experience is going to be at a premium, particularly in the early going.
Outlook: No, you don’t get better by losing a quality runner, like Anderson, yet Tulane looks capable of landing on its feet. A lot will depend on the health of Jason, who’s shown glimpses of being the next really big thing in a Green Wave back. If he can go without limitations, the offense will have a number of young and viable options on the ground.
Rating: 5


Projected Starters: Just like the backfield, Tulane must move forward without its best receiver, dynamite playmaker Jeremy Williams. Picking up some of the slack from “X” receiver will be 5-11, 177-pound senior Casey Robottom, who finished second on the team with 50 catches for 584 yards and two touchdowns. While not physically intimidating, he’s a polished receiver with the hands to be the quarterback’s favorite target.

In the slot, the Green Wave feels it has an emerging playmaker in 5-9, 175-pound sophomore D.J. Banks. A versatile and speedy athlete, he can do a lot of damage with the ball in his hands, which will encourage the staff to get him more involved with the attack. After debuting with seven catches for 69 yards and seven carries for 12 yards, his production is about to explode.

In three-wide sets, 6-0, 179-pound sophomore Ryan Grant is set to fill the role at “Z” receiver. He saw action in nine games as a rookie, making nine grabs for 39 yards and a touchdown. He has the long and lean build needed to win the one-on-one match ups, but just has to get more reps in the system.

Back for one final season at tight end with the program is 6-4, 239-pound senior Cody Sparks. A steady performer in New Orleans, he’s earned three letters with the Green Wave, starting five games and catching 10 passes for 81 yards last fall. Effective on the short and intermediate routes, he has good hands and an even better grasp of his role within the offense.

Projected Top Reserves: Although he’s never quite blossomed up to expectations, 6-3, 168-pound senior Alan Mitchell brings a veteran presence to the second unit. Long and lanky, he has the raw physical ability to be a threat on post patterns and jump balls. After catching 20 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown as a sophomore, he pulled down just two balls a year ago.

The other half of Tulane’s veteran tight end duo is 6-5, 239-pound senior Tyler Helm . Although he remains a little raw with his routes and his hands, he has the physical tools to be an effective threat down the seam if the linebackers forget about him. He caught six passes for 48 yards, earning his third letter with the program.

Watch Out For .... Banks to begin breaking out. He has that special ingredient to blossom into one of Conference USA’s better offensive playmakers. Whether he’s catching passes out of the slot or taking an inside handoff, he has the zip and energy to give this offense a much-needed jolt of electricity.
Strength: Depth at tight end. Although they tend to be underutilized, Sparks and Helm are a pair of veteran tight ends with six letters between them. Both have good size and an ability to be effective pass-catchers in the middle of the field.
Weakness: Proven playmakers. Robottom is steady and Banks has a high ceiling, but is anyone convinced that Tulane has a receiver to replace Williams’ 84 catches for 1,113 yards and seven touchdowns? It doesn’t appear likely to happen this fall.
Outlook: While the coaching staff is talking a good game about the depth and talent of this group, it’s going to rattle this year’s opponents. Robottom will catch whatever is thrown in his direction and Banks will start laying a nice foundation, but much more is needed for a program that considers the passing game the backbone of the offense.
Rating: 4.5

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: The Green Wave boasts five different players who started at least two games last season, lending hope about its potential in 2010. The leader of the group will again be 6-1, 296-pound senior Andrew Nierman, Tulane’s durable rock at the pivot. An all-star candidate, he’s started all 35 games of his career at center or guard. Arguably the team’s toughest lineman, he’s fundamentally sound, with the heavy hands and good leverage to hold his blocks.

Joining Nierman as an All-Conference USA contender is 6-8, 306-pound senior LT Pete Hendrickson . A starter in 22 consecutive games, he did a solid job in his first season the left side last year. After following Troy Kropog into the lineup, he’s hoping to follow him into the NFL with his combination of size, long reach, and footwork in pass protection.

Over at right tackle, the staff could entrust the position to 6-6, 302-pound sophomore Eric Jones, despite his limited resume. After lettering in 2008, he was forced to redshirt in 2009, missing the entire season. He has ideal size and plays with the physicality of a pulling guard, but needs to improve his feet and become more consistent in pass protection.

After starting a pair of underclassmen at guard, Tulane is hoping to start enjoying some of the dividends this fall. On the left side, 6-4, 300-pound junior Harris Howard is back after starting nine of the 11 games he appeared in. A versatile blocker, who’s also listed as the backup at left tackle, he slides well and is light on his feet.

To the left of center, 6-2, 295-pound sophomore Zach Morgan is looking to take the next step following last season’s baptism under fire. A starter in eight games, he showed good toughness and an ability to move the pile as a run blocker, earning a spot on the All-Conference USA Freshman squad.

Projected Top Reserves: Providing some cover for Howard at left guard will be 6-4, 277-pound sophomore Hunter Howden. In his first season on campus, he gained valuable reps, appearing in five games and starting versus McNeese State and Army. He has a bright future once he adds more weight and gets a better feel for the game.

Even if he can’t take many snaps away from Nierman, 6-2, 316-pound senior Joey Ray will be a valuable member of the two-deep. He’s a heady veteran, who brings leadership and a couple of letters to the second team. If pressed into action, he won’t cringe at the prospect of making clean snaps or opening holes for the backs.

Watch Out For .... Hendrickson to force some NFL scouts to visit New Orleans. No, he’s not in the same league as Kropog, but with his size and experience at left tackle, he’s going to get a legitimate opportunity to impress critics and play his way into no worse than a free agent contract next April.
Strength: From Nierman to Hendrickson. The left side of the line, including center, will give the Green Wave its best chance to run the ball successfully in 2010. All three were full-timers a year ago, boasting the drive and physicality to move defenders off the ball.
Weakness: Pass protection. Sure, the quarterbacks contributed to the problem, but the Green Wave has to do a lot better than 90th nationally in sacks allowed. With the offense looking to do a little more downfield passing, giving the quarterback an extra second to plant his feet is going to be an absolute must.
Outlook: The front wall won’t be air-tight, but it should be more effective than a year ago. Nierman and Hendrickson are quality anchors, and the guards are a year older and more experienced. Jones is pivotal on the right side, needing to be an asset after sitting out all of last season.
Rating: 5

- 2010 Tulane Preview | 2010 Tulane Offense
- 2010 Tulane Defense | 2010 Tulane Depth Chart
- Tulane Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006