NEW ORLEANS, La. – The Tulane University football team will travel Tennessee this weekend to play the University of Memphis on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. The Green Wave is coming off a heart-breaking last-second loss to East Carolina.
On Tuesday morning, head football coach Chris Scelfo held his fourth weekly press conference of the 2004 season at the Hall of Fame Room of Tulane's Wilson Center.
Chris Scelfo Opening Statement
"Last Saturday's game was up and down for 60 minutes; we didn't execute and play for 60 [minutes]. That is the next step our kids are going to have to learn to take and I think the ‘want to' and desire is there, but to go out against anybody and only play a half you are not going to win any games.
Offensively, I think we made some strides in the second half; they did a nice job of taking the run away from us in the first half. I think we did a good job of spreading them out a little bit, and had some execution there that I was glad to see from our QB. Obviously, the one blunder in the in zone from their end came back to haunt us, but there were a lot of other plays in that game that were very positive for us.
Defensively, 7-out-of-14, three downs and out we are working really hard on doing that. Where we are right now on defense, I think we have improved from game one to now and the kids are lined up and you see their fundamentals and techniques getting better every day. The sense of urgency isn't there right now and that is what we need to keep impressing on our players that every play is very important.
The kicking game, the first two-point play is something we have been doing here for several years now. We executed it three out of four times, and Saturday we didn't. They made a good play, we have to give them credit, they put us behind the eight ball for the next two times we had to go for two. I was really pleased with Izzy Root on the kicking game, he caused a fumble on punt coverage and he caused a fumble on kick off and recovered a fumble for the touchdown.
Bubba Terranova, made a tremendous effort play on the blocked punt, that Gabe Ratcliff recovered for the touchdown. We put a lot of emphasis on our special teams, we have to be good there to give us a chance. We have improved every week on punt return, we averaged 13.4 yard a return, which is up and we averaged 24 yards on kick off return. We have good players that are working had to get better at that.
When they line up in that certain formation, do you automatically go for the two?
If they are not ready for it, they weren't lined up correctly to what we normally do, if they did line up we would have snapped it or kicked it. But they weren't lined up and one guy came off the edge on the backside and made a good play.
Who makes the call on that play?
The center does, but he was coached to do that every time. Last year we threw it up to Jerome Landry for the two-point play, we hit it against Southern Miss here in the dome.
Do you have confidence in your kicking game?
I do, on the field goal he just stubbed it. I was a little disappointed in the two kickoffs, one that went out of bounds and one that went 3.4 hang time, because we have been getting over 4.0 on all of our kick offs. We have to keep improving there and be consistent, as does our whole football team. That is what we are lacking right now, and to be consistent we are closer to being that, but we are not there yet.
What about the squib kick [late in the game with the Wave leading by one]?
The main reason was because we kicked one out of bounds and the one before that was 3.4 hang time and we wanted to kick it to somebody that we had a chance to go down and tackle.
Looking at the way quarterback Lester Ricard led the team on the last drive of the game, do you think that it was just what the defense was giving you or do you think you should have thrown the ball more?
It is what they gave us there, if you look at us statistically we were 50-50 [passing-rushing] and that is where we want to be. In that situation, it was how they lined up to what we have.
What are your thoughts on playing two quarterbacks?
Neither one of them has risen far above the other. I think Lester [Ricard] had a little more separation last Saturday. I think it is good that Richard [Irvin] is getting into the game, and the way the season plays out, you cannot get through the season with just one QB. There are a lot of factors that go into it, we are looking for production and management in that position and taking care of the football. We have to improve regardless of who the QB is. We have had 10 turnovers on offense and they are accountable for all ten, interceptions are going to happen but we have to get to a point where they cause them.
With young quarterbacks, is it better to take them out of the game and let them watch from the sidelines?
There is no question it is better, sometimes to get them settled down. You talk to Lester and he says he is going 100 miles per hour sometimes, and we don't need him going that fast, not at that position. But it does help.
What about the flip side, does it take them out of their rhythm?
If one of them got into a rhythm we wouldn't play the other one, we haven't got into that rhythm yet. Not in the first half last Saturday, in the second half we did and we stayed with Lester.
If he had got into a rhythm you wouldn't have taken him out after the first series?
He would have played the second series.
With all the success you have had in past years, is it a shock that your offense is ranked 101?
It doesn't shock me; it disappoints me because I think we can be better than that. Our philosophy this year on offense, we know the QB's role is to give us a chance; we have to have great special teams and be better on defense, and take care of the ball on offense. I think we are doing that to a certain degree but we have to be consistent with it.
How has the [senior safety] Tra Boger injury hurt the defense?
Obviously when you lose your leading tackler from a year ago, and a senior, a leader and one of the two seniors starting on defense, it takes more away then production. Brandon Spincer played well on Saturday and he will continue to improve, but there are a lot of intangibles there, especially when you are playing so many freshmen and sophomores.
Mewelde Moore is coming to town with the Vikings this weekend; have you talked to him?
I talked to him last night, and asked him to get dropped off in Memphis. He said, ‘no, coach'. Am I surprised by what he is doing, no, every one in this room for four years saw him do it here. The only thing that has changed is the address. He is going to be successful.
You have two 4-1 teams and a 5-0 team coming up, is this your toughest stretch of the season?
I don't think there is any drought. From here on out it is going to be a bumpy road, and our kids are looking forward to how we match up and stack up at this point in time. But to play the teams we are about to play is the toughest it has been since I have been here.
Why should the fans be optimistic about the rest of the season?
Because every time you kick that ball off, across the country, you have a chance to win. The kids and coaches believe that and I hope that our fans believe that too.
Can you talk about Memphis?
Danny Wimprine is a four-year starter. I have been in that situation where you have a QB that has been brought along and groomed and has tremendous experience. They are able to do a lot with him on offense and spread you out, and they have tremendous play book because they have been able to build it with him.
How do you stop DeAngelo Williams?
I think DeAngelo is one of the best backs in the country, I really do. You all have seen him play, he has tremendous speed and he can catch the ball and he is an outstanding runner. I have been in that situation here in the last couple of years [with Mewelde Moore], and I know how important it is and what you can do with it. He is a guy who can be put at full back, slot, up in the I, they motion him out and get him the ball in a lot of different ways and when he gets the ball he is excited. We are going to have to gang tackle. We are going to have to be in right position at the right time and we have to get hats to the ball. There is no question, we are going to have to have guys flying for the football.
Is he a NFL back in your opinion?
Yes, I think so. I am hoping it is this year. I was hoping it was last year [laughing].
Do you compare Danny Wimprine to Mewelde Moore in that he wasn't very sought after out of high school?
Coming out we were impressed with him, we just didn't have a scholarship for him. We had just brought J.P. Losman in, but we really liked him coming out of high school. He won a bunch of games there and had a good cast around him and he is tough and he can operate.
Are you comfortable with both QBs or do you want one to out play the other?
Both of them will play, if that is what you are asking. We are going to see how things play out in practice this week and get into the game and see. I am comfortable with it either way that is working best.
Do your players remember what happened in the dome against Memphis last year?
I hope they remember it. Last year they came after us physically and manhandled us, and we had the big turnover in the first half, which was a huge opportunity for them, the break out. The line played against them, but the defensive line doesn't remember because they didn't play [they are mostly freshmen]. But we have enough guys, hopefully, that know how to play Memphis.
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