As the countdown to the ConAgra Foods Hawaii Bowl begins, RSN takes a closer look at the Tulane Green Wave. Head coach Chris Scelfo addressed the New Orleans media at a Thursday press conference in the Hall of Fame Room of Tulane's Wilson Center.
RSN thanks Tulane's Associate Media Relations Director John Sudsbury with this report.
"It's a good time for our program right now, for us to get ready to head out to Hawaii and have a trip that I think our players will remember for a life time. The most important thing out here for this trip is to go out there and play the way we are capable of playing. That's what we've been talking about the last two weeks. We're going to harp on being focused out there. They'll have a little time to enjoy themselves. Obviously, we're going out there to play a football game. That is the purpose of this trip. We have a lot of people going; I am really happy for all of them, but the main focus is this football game on Christmas night.
"We're playing a football team that won 10 games, one of the top teams in the country week in and week out. They've lost one game on the Island this year, so they're doing a lot of things right. And we're playing in their backyard. We're going to have play as well as we can play and as hard as we can play for 60 minutes in order to have a chance to win the football game."
After the struggles of the last three years, are you happy for your seniors?
"We've had two winning seasons out of four years for them; I think that has been pretty good for them. Last year was a disappointment for some of them. The senior shave worked hard, unfortunately, most of them didn't redshirt so they only have the opportunity to be here four years. They have laid a foundation that we can build on and continue to improve on.
Are you excited about the extra stuff of the trip, such as Pearl Harbor?
"I have heard a lot about Pearl Harbor; my father was in World War II, so that will be an interesting trip for us. We do that Saturday, so we get that out of the way and get ready for the game."
Will it be difficult to focus on football with the fact that you are going to one of the most exotic destinations possible?
"I think it is. I think that is a tremendous challenge for me and our staff. I think it will be a tremendous challenge for our players to focus. If you ask our team right now what their dream vacation is, they're going to tell you to go to Hawaii. Ask 18-21 year old, 90 percent will say, ‘Go to Hawaii.'"
Is there anyone on your staff or other coaches you can talk to about the adjustment to playing in Hawaii?
"I have talked to a lot of people that have been out there, going from Central Standard Time and Eastern Time. That's the reason we're leaving when we're leaving. It's a nighttime trip for us and we'll get there and try to stay on our clocks from the get-go. It's a four-hour difference, but also we have to make the time up when we get to the island."
Don't you think by game day your body may have adjusted to Hawaii time?
"We're going to be on Hawaii time when we get there. We're going to land about 6:30 or 7 [p.m.]. That's about what time our players are getting up now. We'll get our practice in that morning and be on the clock of Hawaii time."
Have you done a lot in practice already to adjust to the time difference?
"The big thing we have had to adjust to the last two weeks is finals. We've had several days out there where we've had skeleton practices just because of players taking finals. I think the big thing will be getting over there tonight will start us on the right foot and put us on the clock time we need to have."
Can you talk about the Hawaii offense?
"It's sort of deceptive, against San Diego State, they ran the ball. I think they do what they have to do to win the game. They lead the nation in passing; they average 39 or 36 points a game, offensively. I think the two areas that are least talked about and very under-rated are their defense and special teams. You don't win 10 games by playing good offense; we've proven that the last three years. You win 10 games by playing all three phases. They do a tremendous job; they have some NFL players on defense - linebacker, defensive tackle, defensive end, corner - they'll get a shot in the National Football League. Their punter is really as good as there is that I have seen this year. They are really a very balanced football team in all three phases. When you look for weaknesses, they really don't have any."
Do you think Hawaii is under-rated because they are out their on the Island, sort of like a West Coast Heisman Trophy candidate?
"You hear Hawaii does not have the great tradition of this part of the country, but I think most of the nation woke up and saw Alabama and Hawaii play and know what a tremendous team Alabama has, and Hawaii had the opportunity to win the football game. I think people have a pretty good understanding of how good Hawaii really is. I know our players and coaches do."
Is there a lot of pro-style in their offense with June Jones coaching?
"It's more run-and-shoot which is what June brought to Atlanta when he was there. But they also go vertical. They don't have a large array of running plays, but the ones they do have, they execute them very well."
Are they comparable to anybody you have played this year?
"No, not really. Obviously schematically they only have 11 out there, but their routes and packages are a little bit different. Their quarterback, he'll have the opportunity to win the Heisman. The thing about them is that they move the ball around and spread it around and everybody gets involved."
How does Hawaii rate against the other teams you have played this year?
"I think they are as good as any team we have played this year. I really do. Statistically, from a physical standpoint, all three phases, and then throwing on top of that that we're playing them out there, at there own place, it will make it even more challenging for us."
Can you comment on the seniors?
"I really believe our seniors deserve a game like this to end their careers because they really have built a strong foundation. Unfortunately, a lot of them didn't get a chance to redshirt, but they're all going to graduate, they're all going to go out with a bang; they're all going to leave here with a Tulane degree and a bowl game they will all remember the rest of their lives. They have worked diligently to achieve that goal; I put a lot of responsibility on them this year to lead this football team and we've had a great group. I think that is a big key to the way our defense has played, because our seniors are there. I am really happy for them and their families. They are going to be a tremendous asset and ambassador for Tulane University."
Are any injured players coming back with the long break?
"No, everybody we lost, we lost for the year. That is another concern of ours; the edge that you lose by not playin