Burning Questions: Tulane

Ole Miss trips to New Orleans, La., for a meeting with the Green Wave of Tulane Sept. 22. To preview, the second in a series, contributing writer Bennett Hipp talks with Tammy Nunez, who covers Tulane for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Up next, Texas.

First off, Tulane fired Bob Toledo following the 2011-12 season. Enter Curtis Johnson, formerly the wide receivers coach for the New Orleans Saints. He's a first-time head coach, probably not the first guy on the Green Wave's list. What's been the reaction from the fan base on the hire?

"Very, very excited. They're excited about his connections to pro football, and they've been very encouraged by the recruiting he's done so far. Once he came in, I think he locked down somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 guys. They've been very pleased with the way he's recruited specifically the local area, the New Orleans area.

"Overall, I think there are some concerns about his Xs and Os; that was a concern in the Bob Toledo era, as well. They weren't happy about the direction Bob was taking them. With C.J., I think there's a little bit of concern about the Xs and Os, but much more excitement about what he could bring."

Johnson is a New Orleans native, and is renowned as a recruiter, recruiting Marshall Faulk to San Diego State and Ed Reed and Reggie Wayne to Miami (Fla.). How important was his recruiting prowess in the hiring process?

"That was obviously a big factor. When they were looking at how to upgrade the football program as a whole, one of the major Achilles heels was talent level. They just simply weren't fast enough and weren't as quick as some of the other Conference USA teams. If they didn't have (the talent) for Conference USA, they certainly didn't have it to compete against SEC teams. So, right away, the recruiting thing was a huge positive in his favor."

As far as his offense, it's been said he's trying to bring that same kind of wide-open, pass-heavy offense to Tulane that he ran as WRs coach with the Saints. What will his offense look like?

"He's been a little bit vague about what he intends to run, other than to say it'll be the same thing we're running with the Saints. It'll be a pro-style offense, and the Saints really do use the running game to set up a lot of their passing game.

Curtis Johnson
The Advocate

"From what I gather, this isn't going to be some spread offense where they're just going to sling it all over the field. I think there will be a huge passing component to it, but I think they'll rely on the running game quite a bit. A lot of this is kind of what Bob did, as well. I'll be interested to see how the fans react to it.

"Not having the talent, I think, the talent to compete, I don't think any (offense) they ran would've helped them in the past. It was hard to be competitive. We'll have to see how this shapes up. In the spring, they were very, very basic. They kind of stripped everything away. It's really difficult to tell exactly how complex it will get."

Speaking of the offense, one comparable to the offense Johnson ran with the Saints, it seems like Tulane has the perfect running back in Orleans Darkwa, a junior, who rushed for over 900 yards last season.

"He had a really good spring. So did Dante Butler. They have a number of running backs that they're going to try to use in multiple ways in this offense. They have Derrick Strozier, as well. He's a guy who played on defense for most of his career. They've moved him over to running back. He's very, very intriguing. They call him little (Darren) Sproles. He'll have that type of role. They have a wealth of talent at running back, and it looks like C.J.'s going to use all of it in different formations and different packages."

OM Spirit Top Stories