TIGER RAG PREVIEW: Tulane Green Wave

Today is the 14th installment of a 15-part series in which Tiger Rag previews LSU's opponents and other members of the SEC. Today, we spotlight the Tulane Green Wave. Tomorrow, we bring to you our final preview by focusing on the Virginia Tech Hokies.

The Tulane Green Wave struggled through the 2006 season, winning just two games in Conference USA to finish the year with a 2-6 conference record, 4-8 overall.


This year, Tulane will have the benefit of returning starters at 13 of 22 positions, but will still need to find a way to improve on the stats from a year ago if they hope to see more success in 2007.


To help lead the Wave into a new era, Tulane welcomes new coach Bob Toledo. Formerly the head coach at UCLA in the mid 1990s, Toledo replaces Chris Scelfo, who was fired following the 2006 season.


Last season, the Green Wave defense allowed 33.3 points and 399.7 yards per game, while the offense was not much more successful at 18.7 points and 338.7 yards per outing.


They were 0-2 against ranked opponents, falling to Southeastern Conference powers LSU 49-7 and Auburn 38-13, though they did manage one victory over an SEC opponent; beating Mississippi State 32-29 in Starkville.


In 2007, Tulane will meet with the Bulldogs once again, this time as the home team. As a whole, the Green Wave schedule this fall will be lighter than that of a year ago, as they will play seven home games, and will replace Auburn with Southeastern Louisiana as one of four non-conference match-ups.


Five starters will be returning to the offensive side of the ball in 2007, with senior tailback Matt Forte leading the charge on the ground. Last year, Forte was a dominant force in the Green Wave offense, leading the team with 859 rushing yards for eight touchdowns on 163 carries. He also managed 360 receiving yards for two touchdowns on the season.


Sophomore Jeremy McKinney was the lone man on the spring depth chart at full back, who earned a letter last season but did not receive any carries.


Through the air, Tulane returns just one starter at receiver, losing the team's top two wide outs from a year ago. The lone returnee to the receiving corps will be sophomore Jeremy Williams, the squad's No. three receiver last season with 40 catches for 484 yards and two touchdowns.


Filling the void at receiver will be juniors Brian King and Michael Batiste. King had 16 catches last season for 272 yards and three touchdowns, while Batiste managed 132 yards and one touchdown on 12 receptions during his sophomore campaign.


At tight end, Tulane will be looking for a new starter this fall, with juniors Gabe Ratcliff and Justin Kessler, along with freshman Tyler Helm all vying for time. Ratcliff is the most experienced tight end returning, hauling in 10 catches last year for 108 yards and one touchdown.


Quarterback Lester Ricard, who managed 2,795 yards and 18 touchdowns through the air in 2006, will be sorely missed by the Green Wave this season, as the squad looks to find a new leader at signal caller.


In the mix to earn the starting job are junior Scott Elliott, sophomore Anthony Scelfo and freshman Kevin Moore, with Elliott claiming the most experience of the three by throwing 30 passes with 13 completions a year ago.


Whoever gets the nod at quarterback will have the benefit of an experienced front line providing protection this season, as Tulane welcomes back three starting offensive linemen in 2007.


The trio of returnees includes senior Aryan Barto at center, junior Michael Parenton at left guard, and junior Troy Kropog at left tackle.


On the right side, Tulane will fill in the open starting spots with younger players, including red shirt freshman Pete Hendrickson at tackle, and sophomore Travis Olexa at guard.


Defensively, the Green Wave will see the return of eight starters this season, including three of their four men in the trenches.


Returning to the line are seniors Frank Morton and Avery Williams at the tackles, as well as senior Antonio Harris at defensive end.


In 2006, Morton had 30 tackles and led the team with four sacks, while Williams pitched in with 31 tackles and Harris added 33.


Tulane's secondary also welcomes back 75 percent of its starters this fall, with three regulars from the 2006 unit returning to the squad.


Among the returnees is junior free safety David Skehan, who led the Green Wave with 80 tackles and four interceptions as a sophomore.


Senior Joe Goosby returns alongside Skehan at strong safety after accumulating 54 tackles last year, while former starter Louis Thomas will also be back in the secondary, though he may play a backup role at safety this season. He had 54 tackles and two sacks a year ago.


Four players are all vying for time at the cornerback positions, with Josh Lumar being the most experienced; claiming 35 tackles in 11 appearances last season.


At linebacker, juniors James Dillard and Evan Lee will provide experience in the middle of the defense, both serving as regular starters last season. During their sophomore campaign, Dillard finished third on the team with 55 tackles, while Lee added 45 as well as one interception.


Sophomore Cody Sparks looks to be the new starter at the third linebacker spot, seeing time in three games last season.


The Green Wave special teams will bring back their starting place kicker this fall in sophomore Ross Thevenot. As a freshman, Thevenot went 9-15 on field goals and 23-28 on extra points.


The sophomore will also be charged with punting responsibilities this season, claiming just one punt during his college career thus far.


Senior Fred Smith will handle both kickoff and punt returns once again in 2007, averaging 8.7 yards per punt and 19.5 yards per kickoff a year ago.


- Matt Dearman






All-Time Series: 66-22-7

First Meeting: 1893 – Tulane 34, LSU 0

Last Meeting: 2006 – LSU 49, Tulane 7


Location: New Orleans, La.

Stadium: Louisiana Superdome (64,900)

Conference: Conference USA

Head Coach: Bob Toledo, First Year at TU, 78-62 Overall, 13 years





2006 Record: 4-8, 2-6 C-USA (6th West)

Final '05 Ranking: n/a

Returning Starters: 13; 5 offense, 8 defense

Last Bowl Appearance: 2002 Hawaii Bowl

Last Conference Championship: 1998





Total Offense: 338.67 ypg (8/62)

Rushing Offense: 92.17 ypg (11/105)

Passing Offense: 246.50 ypg (3/21)

Scoring Offense: 18.67 ppg (12/94)

Total Defense: 399.67 ypg (10/108)

Rushing Defense: 149.50 ypg (9/83)

Pass Defense: 250.17 ypg (11/113)

Scoring Defense: 33.33 ppg (12/113)





Rushing: Matt Forte – 163-859, 8 TD, 5.3 ypc, 95.4 ypg

Passing: Scott Elliot – 30-13, 132, 0 TD, 1 Int., 22.0 ypg

Receiving: Jeremy Williams – 40-484, 2 TD, 44.0 ypg

Tackles: David Skehan – 80

Interceptions: David Skehan – 4

Sacks: Frank Morton – 4

Tackles for loss: Frank Morton – 8-5





Date                    Opponent                                 '06 Result

S-8                  MISSISSIPPI STATE               W, 32-29

S-15                HOUSTON                             L, 7-45

S-22                SE LOUISIANA                       ---

S-29                LSU                                     L, 7-49

O-6                  at Army                               W, 42-28

O-13                at UAB                                 ---

O-20                at SMU                                 L, 28-33

O-27                MEMPHIS                               ---

N-3                  TULSA                                  L, 3-38

N-10                UTEP                                    L, 20-34

N-20                at Troy                                 L, 20-21

N-17                at Rice                                  W, 38-24

N-24                at East Carolina                      ---



Offense at a glance:


Despite Tulane's 4-8 record a year ago, the offense wasn't all bad.


The Green Wave averaged almost 350 yards per game and the passing attack was in the top 25-percent in Division I. However, the Wave barely tallied 92 yards per game on the ground and its 18 points per game proved to be, along with a porous defense, to be Tulane's downfall.


First-year coach Bob Toledo is faced with the task of replacing quarterback Lester Ricard, who threw for nearly 7,000 yards in three seasons under center for the Green Wave.


It was a three-way race at quarterback last spring between junior Sean Elliot, sophomore Anthony Scelfo and redshirt freshman Kevin Moore. Elliot is the only one of three with any type of game experience and is expected to be the odds on favorite to direct the wave offense.


While the Greenies look to find a new quarterback, Tulane will have no problem at tailback. Senior Matt Forte is back after missing the last three games of last season. A knee injury kept Forte from breaking the 1,000-yard mark last season (162 carries, 859 yards), but is projected to be back and ready to go in his final season.


Tulane lost key receivers DaMarcus Davis and Preston Brown, but four different players emerged in the spring with Jeremy Williams (40 catches, 484 yards in 2006) leading the way.


Toledo had some concerns about the toughness of his offensive line in the spring and it will be up to lone senior Aryan Barto to lead this inexperienced group into the 2007 season.



Defense at a glance:


The Green wave defense, which ranked among the worst in Division I a year ago (108th overall – 399 ypg in 2006), return three of four starters on the defensive front.


Senior tackles Frank Morton and Avery Williams as well as senior end Antonio Harris hopes to improve against the run after allowing almost 150 yards per game on the ground last season.


Linebackers James Dilliard and Evan Lee have proven they can be big time players on defense for the Green Wave. Talent isn't the problem at that position, rather depth may prove to be the biggest detriment. Staying healthy will be key for the young group of Tulane backers.


Tulane Safeties Joe Goosby and David Skehan have proven to be the most dependable players on the Green Wave defense. Goosby has played in 33 games in his Green Wave career and Skehan led the team a year ago with 80 tackles.


- Matt Deville

Tiger Blitz Top Stories