Offense Through Two Games
83rd in FBS
11.0 PPG (120th in FBS)
1.0 TD PG
Ryan Griffin - 41/61, 314 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Until he was knocked out of action against Tulsa Ryan Griffin had been throwing the ball accurately, completing 67.2% of his passes. Much of his success, however, can be attributed to a reliance on dump offs and short routes due to the lack of a vertical game. He has shown the ability to make tough throws on 3rd down but his drive extensions have not turned into points. Given the struggles along the offensive line and the lack of a run game Griffin has performed well, but the absence of the big play has forced him to be a dink-and-dunk distributor (4.7 yards per attempt).
Devin Powell - 8/16, 110 yards, 1 TD
The freshman looks like the starter heading into the Ole Miss game. Considering the circumstances around his entry into the Tulsa game evaluations of his performance should probably be postponed until after this week. That said, he did show the typical freshman jitters and forced a few throws. He had to deal with the same offensive line problems as Griffin, but he has more mobility to help compensate for defensive pressure. He is not a "dual threat" quarterback, but he can extend plays and run for gains much more readily than Griffin. Coach Johnson said in his weekly presser that they are working on getting Powell out of the pocket some as well. It will be interesting to see if extended plays/out of pocket throws can translate into a better vertical game because Powell certainly has the arm strength for it.
Ryan Grant - 11 receptions, 219 yards, 1 TD
Ryan has been the bright spot on the offensive side this year. He has shown big play ability and consistent hands but his skill set also forces opposing defensive coordinators to hone in on him. He has also proven to be a reliable target on 3rd down. His production is vital to Tulane's offensive success and as he demonstrated in the Tulsa game he can provide the big play that the team has been missing so far.
Running Game Averages
124th in FBS
0.0 TD PG
Rob Kelley - 17 Att., 48 yards, 2.8 YPC
Dante Butler - 9 Att., 14 yards, 1.6 YPC
Josh Rounds - 3 Att., 7 yards, 2.3 YPC
Derrick Strozier - 1 Att., 3 yards, 3.0 YPC
This is a prime example of numbers speaking for themselves. Statistically this is the worst running team in all of FBS even when factoring out the yardage lost on QB sacks, but it does not necessarily reflect the talent in the backfield. While the presence of Orleans Darkwa may have helped mitigate their struggles the numbers are more reflective of the offensive line failing to create holes as well as playing from way behind for the majority of the Tulsa game. Coach Johnson says he wants a balanced attack but without production on the ground he has had to air it out more than he would like. Darkwa's status for Saturday is still up in the air but his return would be a definite boost.
Another aspect to consider the amount of receptions the RBs are seeing. This is both a function of check downs and designed plays. Strozier has caught 8 balls for 52 yards while Kelly and Butler have combined for 13 receptions and 48 yards. If they cannot get it going on the ground they may look to supplant runs with short passes to the backs.
Their problems have been documented already in this piece, but Coach Johnson mentioned in his presser that some of the issues come from poor communication amongst the unit and the adjustment to a new system. If that is the main source of problems that is encouraging due to its fixability, but up to this point this unit has made it tough on their QB. It finally caught up with them when Ryan Griffin had his shoulder injured after being taking down by a swarm of Tulsa defensive linemen. Things will continue to be shaken up on the line until they can reach a more effective level of play.
Defense Through Two Games
34.5 Points Allowed
480 YPG (222.5 passing, 257.5 rushing)
5.7 yards per rush
6.8 yards per play
The defense played well in the opener against Rutgers allowing 309 yards and keeping the game tight into the 4th. They could not replicate that versus Tulsa but the effort was commendable after the injury to Devon Walker. Where the defense is getting bit is on the big play, both runs and passes. The youth in the secondary is something teams have looked to exploit but Coach Johnson said this week that his faith in those players has grown. One thing to watch will be if they switch to more man coverage as a result of that growing faith, which in turn would open up certain blitz packages.
Zach Davis has done solidly after assuming Trent Mackey's role, leading the team with 15 tackles. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze had high praise for defensive tackle Julius Warmsley saying that he could "play anywhere". It is hard to diagnose what defense will show up on Saturday but given the offensive scoring deficiency they will need to make some stops and force field goals to keep the game close.
The team has forced only one turnover which was a interception by Ryan Travis and only garnered one sack (Warmsley). Winning the turnover battle is always a huge component in winning football teams and the defense has not had many opportunities to create them. That may change as the conventional wisdom is that "turnovers come in bunches".
The team has had a hard time staying clean in this stat column. After committing 11 penalties against Rutgers for 120 yards the team committed just 3 for 20 yards against Tulsa. If they can continue to play disciplined as they did against Tulsa that will go a long way in not beating themselves.
Statistical Analysis: Offense and Defense
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