#103 Tulane Football Preview

Tulane Green Wave

Overall Rank: #103
#10 Conference USA

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2010 Record: (4-8, 2-6)
2010 Bowl: none
Coach: Bob Toledo (13-35 at Tulane, 62-67 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Dan Dodd
Defensive Coordinator: Steve Stanard

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Orleans Darkwa, RB, 892 yards
Passing: Ryan Griffin, QB, 2,371 yards
Receiving: Ryan Grant, WR, 515 yards
Tackles: Trent Mackey, LB, 124
Sacks: Dezman Moses, DE, 6.0
Interceptions: Shakiel Smith, S, 3

Other Key Returnees: DT Chris Asumnu, LB Darryl Farley, G Harris Howard, OT Eric Jones, G Zach Morgan, DE Austen Jacks, LB Dominique Robertson, CB Ryan Travis

Key Losses: DT Justin Adams, WR, D.J. Banks, CB Phillip Davis, OT Pete Hendrickson, C Andrew Nierman, WR Casey Robottom, TE Cody Sparks, S Alex Wacha

Ever since Coach Bob Toledo arrived at Tulane, the Green Wave has had some hope of reaching their first bowl game since 2002. This year is no different in large part due to Orleans Darkwa. The 5-11, 200 pound running back rushed for 892 yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman and the expectations for him are high in New Orleans. With some quality depth behind Darkwa, most notably Albert Williams and Stephen Barnett, the Tulane ground game should be very strong.

Three starters return to the offensive line, but new center Joey Ray and tackle Pat Husain will be asked to pick up right where the departing offensive lineman left off. The big guys up front did a fine job paving the way for Darkwa, but they need to get better at keeping quarterback Ryan Griffin on his feet. Now an upperclassman, Griffin is ready to take over this team. Last season he threw for 2,371 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Those are better numbers than he had as a freshman and there is little reason to doubt that he will be an even more efficient quarterback in 2011. Griffin loses a lot of his receiving corps, including tight end Cody Sparks who led the team with six touchdown receptions, but there are more options out there than it may appear. Ryan Grant is now an experienced pass catcher who can turn into the Green Wave’s big play receiver and former quarterback Joe Kemp is still improving as a receiver. Add some youngsters like Wilson Van Hooser and Brent Comardelle and another big tight end like Brock Sanders and Griffin can pass for 2,500 yards this year.

While the offense needs to worry about replacing some receivers, the defense has to replace sack leader Justin Adams from the front line that was not very good to begin with. That puts a lot of pressure on returning starters Dezman Moses and Austen Jacks to turn into a consistent pass rushing threat. All three starting linebackers return, led by Trent Mackey who is coming off of an impressive 124 tackle campaign, but that group as a whole did not do too much to help the Green Wave’s rush defense that gave up nearly 200 yards per game. A year of experience can only help the young group, but it remains to be seen if anybody but Mackey can turn into a big-time playmaker and make a much needed positive impact on the defense.

The Bottom Line:
The loss of safety Alex Wacha and cornerback Phillip Davis will not help the defense, but the secondary is still strong thanks to the return of Shakiel Smith and Ryan Travis, who ranked third and fourth on the team in tackles. Relying on the secondary to make tackles goes to show how often the opposition got through the first and second line defense on the ground, but having a couple players who can make tackles is not a bad thing. This Tulane squad has a ton of potential on offense as Griffin and Darkwa come into their own, but the defense has to be much better and create more turnovers if the Green Wave hope to go bowling.

Projected Bowl: none

2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 127.50 (91st in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 245.75 (38, 7)
Total Offense: 373.25 (66, 9)
Scoring Offense: 24.92 (80, 10)
Rushing Defense: 195.50 (101, 10)
Pass Defense: 194.58 (28, 1)
Total Defense: 390.08 (74, 5)
Scoring Defense: 37.17 (113, 9)
Turnover Margin: -.17 (68, 4)
Sacks: 2.08 (54, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 2.33 (81, 10)

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