The Cards, led by Eric Shelton, rolled up a season high 288 yards on the ground against a Tulane defense that struggles to stop the run enroute to a season best 47 points. Michael Bush and Stefan LeFors added to the ground attack by Bush scoring 2 TDs and LeFors running for 70 yards respectfully. This, however, marked the second consecutive game that LeFors didn't throw a touchdown pass, but luckily for the Cards, he hasn't had to.
How ‘bout that running game? These guys, through 7 games have already outgained last year's team by 99 yards and have scored two more TDs than last year's bunch. What a difference a Florida State transfer along with an improved offensive line makes. Even though LeFors hasn't scored through the air lately, this running attack has paved the way for the passing game to flourish and keep defenses honest. This is crucial and will come into play when we travel to TCU in early November.
J.R. Russell continued to show why he is emerging as the go-to-guy in the receiving corps as he had another monster receiving yards day. Bush is looking as comfortable as ever in his all-around play, gaining over 100 yards of total offense for the second game.
One area of minor concern is the amount of touches Joshua Tinch is getting. He's not as involved in the offense as he could be. The emergence of the running game is probably taking plays away from him. You have to admit that a tandem comprised of Russell, Tinch, Bush and Clark is awfully formidable not to mention Tight End Ronnie Ghent, who has quietly made plays.
This was the most impressive defensive outing on the season. The Green Wave scored 28 points, but put 14 on the board during garbage time in the 4th quarter. The Cards held the highest scoring team in C-USA to 5 points under its average. What makes that stat even more impressive is that Tulane scored 42 points against Houston while only possessing the ball for 17 minutes last week.
The defensive front used constant harassing pressure to bother Tulane QB J.P. Losman all night which limited his effectiveness. The UofL secondary, mainly Kerry Rhodes, capitalized on that pressure by grabbing two interceptions. His second one of the game was a nifty one-handed grab that ended 33 yards later in the end zone, officially putting the game away.
This "bend but don't break" defense has worked very well this season. It has allowed the young secondary to learn during game action, then make adjustments accordingly. The DBs have greatly benefited from the D-Line's pressure and are now becoming a solid group that can make plays when needed. Now they have the confidence and experience to compete in man-on-man situations when the D-Line's front can't bail them out.
Like the entire team, this area was solid. The coverage teams didn't allow a big play on punts and kick-offs. Nate Smith knocked in another two field goals, looking almost machine-like in his kicking routine. The return teams didn't bust one, but Robert Haskins looked good in a couple of his returns.
The Cards will face the drowning Pirates of East Carolina (1-6), whose collective ship barely stayed above water by squeaking by Army last week. This should be a game where the reserves can get some action while the starters rest up for the huge tilt against the nationally ranked, defending C-USA champs, TCU.