Tulane Offense: Most 'Wide-Open' Texas Has Faced

Tulane (2-2) lists nine new starters on an offense that typically operates out of a four-wide, one-back set and represents the most wide-open offensive attack Texas has faced to date, defensive coordinator <B>Carl Reese </B>said Wednesday.

"This will be a good test," Reese said. "We’ve haven’t seen a more open offense (than Tulane’s) yet. Most of the stuff has been close-in and two (tight ends)."

The Green Wave averages 337.3 yards-per-game (131 rushing, 206.3 passing) and is scoring 25.2 points per contest (Texas averages 40 ppg).

Tulane will also use a "hurry up" offense regardless of time remaining on the game clock.

"What they do is huddle close to the line of scrimmage, and they’ll sprint up there and then take it on the first sound," Reese said.

How effective will it be against a Texas team that leads the nation in defense? Well, it worked last Saturday night in Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium when Houston used the approach on its successful two-point conversion.

"They went quick and we weren’t ready to play," Reese said. "It was an unnerving thing, and (Tulane) does it quite a bit."

The key, however, is stopping RB Mewelde Moore, who holds 14 Tulane records including the school’s mark for most 100-yard rushing games (14), Reese said. Just four contests into his junior season, Moore has 2,725 total rushing yards and 4,105 all-purpose yards and will shatter the school rushing mark (3,095 yards) in the next game or two after he faces Texas. He has been good for 103.5 yards per game, but no other Tulane RB or FB comes close to his numbers.

"He’s a proven guy, and he’ll play hard regardless of what the situation is," Reese said.

Following the season-ending injury to WR Roydell Williams, Moore is also Tulane’s leading receiver (192 yards on 20 receptions). A little known fact: Moore is the only NCAA Division I-A player to ever rush for more than 1,250 yards and catch more than 60 catches in a single season.

"They’ve got him as a receiver and they’ve got him as a running back, so he’s all over the place," Reese said. "He may be the only back in history to do it twice."

QB J. P. Losman, (6-3, 215) is averaging 203.8 through the air and is completing 62.2 percent of his attempts (79-of-127). The junior has thrown five touchdowns and three interceptions in four contests. His greatest asset may be what Reese described as his escape-ability.

"We respect their quarterback," Reese said. "Their quarterback is very capable. He is a guy that was widely recruited. He knows how to throw the football. He’s got a quick release. You rush him and he can get out of the rush."

The elusive Losman is particularly adept at running the option, and don’t be surprised to see more than one quarterback draw to test the interior of the Texas defense. Losman can be streaky, but dangerous to opponents when he heats up.

"We’ve got to frustrate him," Reese said. "The teams that have had success against him have frustrated him. So, you hit him sometimes, and you drop everybody sometimes to get him out of his rhythm."

YES, BUT HOW GOOD IS TULANE’s RB COACH?

Tulane running back coach is none other than Greg Davis Jr., the son of the Texas’ offensive coordinator. What, then, is Reese’s insight on what Junior brings to the sideline?

"He has questionable genetic background," Reese quipped. "That’s the fairest thing I can say about him. I question his genetics but, other than that, I heard he’s a good guy."

TEXAS D: REESE’S PRE-BIG 12 ASSESSMENT

Tulane represents the final tune-up before Big 12 action starts for Texas against Oklahoma State at 11:30 next Saturday in Austin. At this juncture, Reese’s bunch leads the nation in total defense, surrendering just 213.3 yards-per-game. It ranks second nationally in allowing just 115.3 yards through the air, and is fourth in the country in pass efficiency defense (75.5). Texas’ scoring defense (10.7 ppg) is good for fifth nationally, No. 2 in league play.

Despite its early season statistical success, how is this year’s defense stacking up, considering its injuries and that it will be facing progressively superior offenses in each successive week (the exception, of course, being the Texas A&M offense, which probably could not move the ball against some high school teams. Aggie offensive coordinator Dino Babers and QB Mark Farris are both demoted this week)?

The defense "played well enough to win" in posting the shutout against North Texas, Reese said, and then located its backbone in the third quarter against North Carolina after the Tar Heels starting moving the ball.

"They’ve got some fight in them and they want to win," Reese said. "Right now we’ve got to keep getting better and keep coming. Missing a guy here and missing a guy there (due to injuries) always hurts a football team, but we’ve got to get over that."

A preseason concern was replacing three linebackers that had totaled 110 career starts, but Lee Jackson, Derrick Johnson and Reed Boyd have answered the bell early, according to Reese. The trio leads the team in total tackles (Boyd has 32, Johnson has 27 and Jackson has 22).

"They’ve done better than I thought going in," Reese said. "All three have had good production in all of the ballgames, and we’ve never had that since I’ve been here. We’d have one guy play well, but maybe not another. But all these kids have had (quarterback) pressures and they’ve all had tackles. As a group, they’ve had close to 30 every game."

The line, of course, has been thinned by injuries in the past two games. Starting DT Marcus Tubbs (concussion) is listed as questionable for the game while true freshman DE Bryan Pickryl (who, beforing injuring an ankle, earned his first start against Houston as Kalen Thornton slowly mends) is a probable participant. True freshman DT Rodrique Wright turned in his best performance to date against Houston with four tackles and has worked out this week with the first-team defense. Wright’s high school stats are over-the-top impressive (he was both a USA Today and Parade All-American at Houston Alief Hastings) but Reese wants more out of the 6-5, 320-pounder.

"We played one game without our best tackle and it continues to be a concern," Reese said. "Young guys have a learning curve and a toughness curve, and they’re not there yet. We’ve played well enough to win at that position, but we’ve got to get somebody to be a dominant player in there. If need be, we will start (Wright), but that just means he’s practiced better than the other guys."

USA Today All-American DT Larry Dibbles is another true freshman who took off the redshirt against Houston, but Reese is not as excitable as others are when any of Texas’ heralded recruits see action.

"Right now, he’s had five snaps as a potential UT alum," Reese said. "His deal is that he’s like some guys who come here and don’t know they have to be in shape to be able to play. (At 6-4, 280, little Larry Dibbles was one the guys assigned earlier this season for some of Jeff "Mad Dog" Madden’s post-practice, extra-curricular "encouragement" sessions). He’s starting to get into better shape. He’s got a good, quick first step and he’s a load. We really need that in this defense."

CB Nathan Vasher is listed as questionable. During the early preseason before severely spraining an ankle, FS Kendal Briles was running with the first team D, but will be hard-pressed to supplant Dakarai Pearson, whose three interceptions is good for second in the nation.


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