Green Wave Prepares For Three-Game Roadswing

I appreciate you all being here today. Last Saturday's game, I made it perfectly clear, I thought, after the game, my opinion didn't change, offensively we didn't play very well. We were out of sync, I have to give Memphis some credit, but it was a lot of our own doings. Third-down conversions, not making plays when we had opportunities to make plays

The Tulane University football team, with a defense which has been decimated by injuries, is hoping to snap a four-game losing streak this weekend with a road game at the United States Naval Academy on Saturday. The Navy game is the first of a three-game road trip before the Green Wave closes its 2003 regular season at home against East Carolina on Nov. 22 at the Superdome.

Head coach Chris Scelfo held his weekly press conference on Tuesday morning in the Hall of Fame Room of Tulane's Wilson Center.

Chris Scelfo Opening Statement:
"I appreciate you all being here today. Last Saturday's game, I made it perfectly clear, I thought, after the game, my opinion didn't change, offensively we didn't play very well. We were out of sync, I have to give Memphis some credit, but it was a lot of our own doings. Third-down conversions, not making plays when we had opportunities to make plays.

The consistency on offense that's been there all year wasn't there on Saturday. Hopefully, we can put that together and do a better job this week against Navy.

Defensively, I thought we had some plays in the game that we hadn't been making. Guys that are hopefully getting a little more accustomed to roles that they're in. As we know, roles have changed weekly here with different players. The continuity hasn't been there, but I thought defensively they came out and played hard.

The kicking game had some good points, and obviously the big return on the kickoff return was not positive for us. There's a lot of fight in this football team, there was a lot of want-to last Saturday and there was a lot at practice yesterday. We've got to bear the brunt of it and continue moving forward and taking it one game at a time, one day at a time. Trying to improve a little bit each day, and hopefully it will show up on Saturday.

Q: Do you think about Bowls or is it still one game at a time for you?
CS: No, we're just one game at a time. We're not mature enough, we're not old enough to look past each date. We have to focus in on what we have to do each day with the make-up of our team right now.

Q: What's Mewelde Moore's attitude been since the losing streak began, being that he's a senior leader and take's a lot of pride in what he does?
CS: I have to ask him that, I just see what he does. He had a 100-something yards Saturday. Everybody's attitude seems to be good, and we're ready to get better and play this week.

Q: Has J.P. [Losman] taken steps backward?
CS: I don't think J.P. was as sharp Saturday as he's been. Obviously, his numbers tell you that. I think he's had some wear and tear on his body this year and it's just taking its toll. He's a competitor and he'll get back on his game.

Q: Starting off games this year has been a problem. Do you go to scripting plays, no huddle, how do you get the offense going?
CS: We've tried it all this year. It's sort of a reversal of last year. Last year we started fast, and in the second half we weren't a very good second-half football team. This year, it's kind of the opposite. We've got to make plays early which we haven't done. You start with game one, fumbling on the goal-line. Saturday, 4th and 1…4th and six-inches, we don't make. We have to make those plays to have good things happen to us early in the game. It just hasn't happened.

Q: Do you reach a point on defense where you tell the players to forget about making mistakes and just play?
CS: We still have to get lined-up. We have been stressing that, just pull the trigger. We're more interested in playing fast cause we have to be. I think we did that Saturday at times, we just have to keep striving to get there on defense right now and quit pressing across the board in all three phases.

Q: You said this football team has a lot of pride, could you elaborate on that?
CS: We showed up every week. The adversity that they've overcome to even be at this point. There is a lot of pride and character that's evident in the games we've played this year. We haven't won them all but we've out there competing.

Q: What about going out on a three-game road trip, talk about getting away from New Orleans for a bit.
CS: I hadn't looked at the next two, I've only looked at the one this week. That's always a deal with our players if we can handle it. We have to keep our focus on what is important on this stretch right here. That's going to be the biggest thing, how we handle it as a football team.

Q: You said how difficult September was going to be, could you compare September to this upcoming stretch with the things that have happened?
CS: It was difficult back in August and September when you looked at our schedule. You said it, I said it. With all things that have gone on to our football team it makes it even more challenging.

Q: How's [transfer quarterback] Lester Ricard doing, have you seen him throw around the ball?
CS: He's doing good. Doing good in school, doing well. Fitting in here, he's got a great personality, he's very happy. The players have really bought him in, he's doing good.

Q: For people that will be watching on TV that don't have an idea of how decimated by injuries you are, could you explain what it's like?
CS: I don't think you can explain it, you have to see it. When you look at the depth chart even coming into the year, what we have lost even from last year the four guys, Chris Williams, Jay Ashton, Brandon Rottmeyer, Lonnie Crayton. Then you throw in Daniel Nevil, Bamm Mateen, Michael Roberts, Joey Dawson, Darren Sapp for nine games, Anthony Cannon for five games. I know I've left some off, but when you have to move offensive linemen and receivers to the defensive line to field eleven guys on the defense, we've had some misfortunes.

Q: Has Willie Christian [redshirt sophomore offensive lineman who started at defensive end last week] played defense before?
CS: He started last week.

Q: Has he played prior to last week?
CS: No, not here. His freshman year I think he was there for a little while. I think injuries are part of it. The roles when they change, you've got to be ready to adjust and step up. Have I ever seen anything like this? No, I haven't, not in 18 years. But does that mean that we can't overcome it with want-to, pride, character? We can overcome it.

Q: [True freshman defensive end] Billy Harrison has been more involved the last two weeks. Could you talk about Harrison and [true freshman defensive tackle] Alvin Johnson stepping up as freshmen on the defensive line?
CS: They're getting better. The last couple of weeks they're playing that way. They've gotten more and more work, their roles have changed weekly. The more times you do something you're going to get knocked back, but if you continue to come back, you're going to benefit from it. In the ideal situation those two kids would be redshirted this year. They jumped in with both feet and really worked hard to continue to develop.

Q: Could you talk about Navy?
CS: Navy coming into this game leads the nation in rushing offense. They've really done a nice job of operating. They have a senior quarterback and junior fullback that are really playing well for them on offense. I thing the biggest improvement they've made is on the defensive side of the football. They were good last year on offense, had a lot of yards, averaged a lot of points. I think they're averaging about 28 points right now, but defensively they haven't been giving up the big play. They've made some big plays for them, created some turnovers. Their punter, he's done an exceptional job for them this year. They're 5-3 for a reason, because they're playing a lot better. They are playing a lot better on defense.

Q: After talking to other coaches, they keep bringing up the Navy fullback. Rarely is a fullback such a key weapon on offense, could you explain this guy?
CS: The type of offense they run is conducive to a fullback. If you don't stop the fullback you give him the perimeter. We got to do a good job of getting inside-out this week, and looking and seeing what our key is. If that ball is handed to the fullback we have to stay in and if it's not we've got to get out and get out fast.

Q: Not that they're one-dimensional, but they are run-oriented. Is it easier to go up against a team because they do one thing really well, or would you rather go against a more balanced team?
CS: If you look at their passing percentages, they've completed a very high percentage of passes. So they do throw the football some, and it's normally for big plays. That's what we've got to be really sharp on. The option is hard to defend when you see it, let alone once a year. Our guys had a good practice yesterday and got better as it went on of seeing it and understanding it. You can't just hone your skills in and say we're going to do this, you've got to be able to adjust during the course of the play.

Q: Do you feel they get a high percentage of passes because of the run?
CS: Sure, they set it up.

Q: Will that stop you from stacking the box?
CS: No, we're going to have our nine guys in there, but the roles over the course of the play and how it unfolds we've got to get to our areas where we're assigned to.

Q: What did Delaware do to defeat Navy last week?
CS: They got five turnovers from them. That's a big thing. And Delaware is ranked third in the country in I-AA, I think, and 6-0. They run the same offense as Navy.

Q: What do you think is the one area on Saturday that will help you get back on track?
CS: How well our offense performs I think will be very important Saturday. No one has stopped Navy. You don't stop an offense like that. You can't let it frustrate you from a defensive standpoint. You have to keep your focus; they're going to make their yards; they're going to make their push. We can't get frustrated, we have to stay balanced. But from an offensive standpoint, I would sure like to see us come out and play the way we are capable of playing.

Q: With the way the defense is hurt, does anyone say to the offense that they have to carry things?
CS: I can't say what I told the offense on camera [laughing]. They know it. The flipside is that I don't want to press it either, and I think we've been doing that. I don't think anybody, whether it is Friday night, Saturday or Sunday, if you press, it's hard to make plays. That's what we can't have happen.


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