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2010 Tulane Preview
Tulane OT Pete Hendrickson
Tulane OT Pete Hendrickson
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 17, 2010


CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Tulane Green Wave


Tulane Green Wave

Preview 2010
 

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By Richard Cirminiello

Head coach: Bob Toledo
Fourth year: 9-27
Returning Lettermen
Off. 25, Def. 21, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 20
Ten Best Tulane Players
1. FS Shakiel Smith, Soph.
2. WR Casey Robottom, Sr.
3. C Andrew Nierman, Sr.
4. LT Pete Hendrickson, Sr.
5. CB Phillip Davis, Sr.
6. QB Ryan Griffin, Soph.
7. SS Alex Wacha, Sr.
8. DT Oscar Ponce de Leon, Sr.
9. RB Payten Jason, Soph.
10. DE Dezman Moses, Jr.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 4 SE Louisiana
Sept. 11 Ole Miss
Sept. 18 OPEN DATE
Sept. 25 at Houston
Oct. 2 at Rutgers
Oct. 9 Army
Oct. 16 at Tulsa
Oct. 23 at UTEP
Oct. 30 SMU
Nov. 6 Southern Miss
Nov. 13 Rice
Nov. 20 UCF
Nov. 27 at Marshall

Tulane is mired in its worst three-year slump since Buddy Teevens was on the sidelines in the mid-1990s. And there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

Three years into the Bob Toledo experiment, the Green Wave is no closer to respectability, going 9-27 under his watch. While it would be easy to suggest a change at the top, the reality is that there’s no quick fix for a program sorely lacking in talent and fan support. Every decade or so, Tulane catches lightning in a bottle and plays in a bowl game. Unfortunately for Toledo, he may not be around when college football’s version of an eclipse occurs.

The Green Wave wasn’t just bad during last year’s 3-9 campaign. It was among the country’s worst schools, getting out scored by an average of 36-16. After showing a pulse with back-to-back wins over McNeese State and Army, Tulane finished 1-7, scoring an average of just 10 points in those seven defeats. The offense was impotent. The defense was a sieve. The future is bleak, especially now that next-level RB Andre Anderson and WR Jeremy Williams have run out of eligibility.

Tulane is pinning its hopes on young QB Ryan Griffin, who impressed down the stretch as a redshirt freshman. Three times in November, he threw for at least 200 yards and two touchdown passes, sparking a moribund attack. Whether it was Shaun King, J.P. Losman, or Patrick Ramsey, the Green Wave has always had a quality, pro-caliber quarterback on hand when it was playing well. It’s cautiously optimistic that Griffin can be that type of much-needed catalyst. He’ll have to be because the balance of the roster is thin, even by Conference USA standards.

What to watch for on offense: The growth of Griffin. Ryan Griffin made considerable strides toward the end of his first season, but must continue to improve in order to spark this offense. More specifically, the staff wants him to become more effective with his touch on downfield passes. The Green Wave wants to take more shots on deep balls to open up the field for the short and mid-range stuff. While Griffin doesn’t have a rifle by any means, he can still get enough air under the ball to put his receivers in a position to make big plays on the outside.

What to watch for on defense: The transfers. In dire need of an influx of talent everywhere, Tulane is getting a break now that DE Dezman Moses and LB Trent Mackey are eligible to play. After beginning their college careers at Iowa and Duke, respectively, both are itching for a chance to get back on the field and start making plays. Moses has the burst and upper body strength to help spark a pass rush that was impotent last season. Mackey, too, is already slated to start, bringing a fresh energy and intensity to the second line of defense.

The team will be far better if … it can dramatically improve the turnover situation. It’s bad enough that the Green Wave doesn’t have the overall talent to match up with Conference USA’s stronger teams. When you factor in the nation’s 119th-ranked turnover margin, it’s no surprise that this team had so many problems being competitive a year ago. At a minimum, Tulane must do a better job of stripping and picking off balls after producing a nation’s-low 10 turnovers in a dozen games.

The Schedule: The Green Wave starts out with two home games, and then it's time to pack the bags. Unfortunately, one of the early dates is against Ole Miss, and then come four road games in five weeks including key Conference USA battles at Houston and Tulsa. Those will likely be losses no matter where they're played, so they might as well be on the road. As the season turns back and forth, Tulane gets a huge break with four straight home games before finishing up at Marshall. Missing East Carolina from the East is a plus, but it's a bad break getting UCF and a resurgent Marshall.

Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Casey Robottom. Steady throughout his Green Wave career, he’s hoping to sprinkle in a little more of the spectacular now that go-to guy Jeremy Williams is gone. A polished all-around receiver, he has sticky hands and runs precise routes, catching a career-high 50 balls for 584 yards and two touchdowns a year ago. He gives Griffin a reliable target to hone in on, especially on third down and in the red zone.

Best Defensive Player: Sophomore FS Shakiel Smith. At this time last year, Smith was a recruit from New Orleans, with an unsure upside. Today, he’s the Green Wave’s best defensive player and a candidate for all-star recognition. He’s exactly what the program needs in a free safety, aggressively defending the pass as well as the run. In his debut out of Karr High School, he had 71 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, and three pass breakups, putting down the first level of a terrific career.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore RB Payten Jason. No, he doesn’t have to carry the load on his own. Albert Williams and Stephen Barnett are also capable of providing a jolt to the running game. However, Jason showed hints of being a future star in his first season before injuring his knee in October. While Tulane is a pass-first offense, proficiency through the air will go up markedly if it can establish the run and keep defenses on their heels.

The season will be a success if ... the Green Wave wins four games and stays out of the Conference USA West cellar. Anything more will be a reach, especially since no better than a 1-3 start is almost a certainty. After the opener with Southeastern Louisiana, wins will be very hard to come by. Tulane hasn’t won more than four games since 2004, so just hitting that bar with this team will be an achievement.

Key game: Oct. 9 vs. Army. Not only is this one of the few winnable games on the schedule, but it’s also homecoming for the Green Wave. It’s taken two of the last four in the series, including a 17-16 escape in West Point last year. After going through the gauntlet of Ole Miss, Houston, and Rutgers, this is an opportunity that Tulane has to seize.

2009 Fun Stats:
- Points per game: Tulane 16.1 – Opponents 36.7
- Average yards per carry: Tulane 3.2 – Opponents 4.9
- Takeaways: Tulane 10 - Opponents 26

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