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TULANE Team Report
Tulane enters its second season under coach Bob Toledo with some big shoes to fill, but plenty to be encouraged about.
The Green Wave was picked to finish last in the C-USA West last summer but finished tied for third in the division and finished 4-8 overall, 3-5 in C-USA after a 1-5 start.
Tulane must replace 14 starters, but only six of those seniors started the final game against East Carolina. Unfortunately for the Green Wave, one of those seniors was tailback Matt Forte, who ran for 2,127 yards and 23 touchdowns last fall.
The Green Wave must also replace solid defensive players such as linemen Antonio Harris and Avery Williams and defensive backs Joe Goosby and Carlis Jackson, but no one job will be harder to fill than Forte's, especially with no obvious replacements.
Tulane must also solidify its quarterback situation after starting three different quarterbacks this season. Junior Anthony Scelfo is more experienced, a better runner and a more fiery leader than sophomore Kevin Moore, but Moore is the better passer and showed more potential to create big plays last season. Their development and competition will go a long way toward determining the direction of the offense.
SPRING OBJECTIVES: The Green Wave has a lot of issues to address but none stands out more than the search for a new tailback. Matt Forte finished second in the nation in rushing last season and often carried the offense by creating running room when there wasn't any. Now he's gone and the Green Wave returns no obvious replacements. The defense must also make the transition to a new coordinator after coach Bob Toledo promoted defensive line coach O'Neill Gilbert.
BUILDING BLOCKS: The return of four offensive line starters, four experienced linebackers, WR Jeremy Williams and FS David Skehan.
SCHEDULE SITUATION: For the first time since 2004, Tulane will actually have an open date on its schedule. Too bad the rest of the schedule doesn't offer any breaks, with nonconference games at LSU and Alabama and conference road games at Houston and Tulsa. Home games against Louisiana-Monroe, Army, Rice and UAB will be Tulane's best bets for wins.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "O'Neill played linebacker in college and has coached the position both in college and on the NFL level. This will give him more control as the defensive coordinator on the run game and in the secondary with the passing game." -- Tulane coach Bob Toledo, on the decision to promote O'Neill Gilbert to defensive coordinator after former coordinator Thom Kaumeyer left for another job.STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
STARS OF 2008:
QB Kevin Moore -- Junior Anthony Scelfo is more experienced and a better runner, but for Tulane to take the next step in its offensive development and become a more balanced team, Moore has the potential to give Tulane an effective passing game and become a key player for the Green Wave.
WR Jeremy Williams -- When he truly shows up and has his head in the game, he's as good as any receiver in the conference. When he fails to do those things, he can be a source of frustration. His growth and development will be another key for the Green Wave.
LB Evan Lee -- Lee returns after leading Tulane with 99 tackles in 2007.
QB Ryan Griffin -- Griffin was ranked as the nation's No. 22 prep quarterback prospect out of Chaminade College Prep. With so much uncertainty surrounding Tulane's quarterback job, it's possible Griffin could compete for some playing time this fall.
OL-DL Rich Bell -- Bell was ranked as the nation's No. 22 prep center, but could end up on either side of the ball.
LB Darryl Farley -- Farley was rated as high 53rd among the nation's prep middle linebackers. On a defense in need of more playmakers, Farley will likely get a serious look come August.
RBs Nathan Austin and Albert Williams -- Tulane's tailback competition is wide open, so Austin and Williams could work their way into the rotation with a strong preseason camp.
--When defensive coordinator Thom Kaumeyer left for a job on the Kentucky staff, coach Bob Toledo promoted defensive line coach O'Neill Gilbert to defensive coordinator. Then he hired graduate assistant Grant Higgison to coach the defensive line. When linebackers/special teams coach Fred Bleil left Tulane to become the defensive coordinator at Texas State, Toledo hired former McNeese State co-defensive coordinator Jason Rollins to coach the secondary.
Williams, a 5-11, 190-pounder from Beaumont, Texas, was a late signee for Tulane. Williams rushed for 1,300 yards as a junior but suffered a knee injury late in his senior season and many of the programs that had been recruiting him backed off. "(The doctor) said the surgery went well; they said I'll definitely be ready by August, so I'm looking forward to playing," Williams told The Times-Picayune. "(Tulane) is a real good school academically, and academics come first. I looked at their roster, and it didn't look too deep (at running back). So I feel like I can go there and contribute and try to help them go to a bowl game."
Previous Report: 02/08/2008