Tulane - Navy To Kick Off At 6 P.M.

While Chris Beckman's 43.3-yard punting average leads the league and ranks 17th nationally, even more amazing is the fact that NOT ONE of his 37 punts have gone into the end zone for a touchback. Beckman has landed 14 punts inside the 20-yard line, with seven of those pinning opponents inside the 10

Tulane returns to the Louisiana Superdome for the first time in six weeks when the 2-5 Green Wave plays host to 7-1 Navy on Saturday. The Wave played a "home" game two weeks ago when it defeated UAB on Homecoming Weekend at Tad Gormley Stadium, but the team has not played in the 'Dome since a Sept. 25 game with Southern Miss. Since that game, Tulane has had an open date and three C-USA road games in addition to the Gormley game.

The Tulane-Louisville game that was postponed due to Hurricane Ivan has been rescheduled for Saturday, Dec. 4 at 1:30 p.m. in the Louisiana Superdome. The game was originally scheduled for Sept. 18 but was postponed when New Orleans was evacuated the week of the game due to Hurricane Ivan.

Tulane missed nearly a week of practice Sept. 13-18 when much of New Orleans, including the Tulane campus, was evacuated. With the University and dorms closed for the week and the Tulane-Louisville game postponed, many of the Green Wave players and coaches left town as well. The Green Wave reported back to New Orleans Sept. 19 for a Sunday practice to begin preparations for the Sept. 25 meeting with Southern Miss.

After posting its highest point total of the Chris Scelfo era in the win over UAB, Tulane was held to its lowest point total ever in a Conference USA game in a 24-3 loss at Houston last week. The Green Wave turned the ball over three times, twice in the red zone, and was unable to get untracked offensively despite a gutty performance by the Tulane "D", which shut out Houston in the second half.

Tulane and Navy meet for the seventh straight season as non-conference foes and have played in 12 of the last 13 years. The two teams have met every year since 1991 except 1997. Tulane owns a 10-6-1 lead in the series overall and has won three of the last four meetings and seven of the nine times the teams have played in New Orleans. Tulane and Navy meet in the Superdome for the first time since the 2000 season as the teams met in the first Tulane game in Tad Gormley Stadium in 2002. In its last three home games versus the Midshipmen, the Green Wave has averaged 47.7 points.

A year ago, Navy broke a three-game losing streak to the Green Wave with a 35-17 win in Annapolis, extending Tulane's losing streak at the time to five games. In the game, Navy piled up 357 rushing yards and Tulane could not take advantage of four Navy turnovers while committing three of its own. In addition to the loss on the field, Tulane lost record-setting running back Mewelde Moore for the remainder of the season.

Tulane is 19-14-2 all-time versus the three service academies and has played more games versus Navy (17) than against either Air Force (6) or fellow Conference USA member, Army (12). At home, the Green Wave is 11-4-2 in games with the service academies.

The Green Wave has played both Navy and Army in a season seven times, including each of the last six. However, the two service academies have never turned up on the Tulane schedule in back-to-back weeks as they do in 2004. Only once has Tulane defeated both service academies in the same year -- the undefeated 1998 season. On the other hand, the Green Wave has lost to both Navy and Army in the same season just one time, in 1996.

Now in his sixth season at the helm of the Tulane program, Chris Scelfo is the longest-tenured coach at Tulane (in seasons) since Andy Pilney, who coached the Wave for eight years from 1954-61. In addition to Pilney, only Hall-of-Famer Clark Shaughnessy (1915-20, 1922-26) with 11, has more seasons than Scelfo's six and the New Iberia, La. native is only the fifth mentor all-time to coach six seasons at Tulane. Scelfo, the 36th head coach in Tulane football history, ranks third all-time in games coached with 67 and is tied for fifth all-time at Tulane in coaching victories.

After a slow start to the 2004 season, Tulane all-star receiver Roydell Williams has been nothing short of magnificent over the last four games when he has compiled 31 catches for 468 yards and seven touchdowns. His per game averages of 7.75 catches and 117 yards during that time would rank Williams tied for third and fourth nationally, and first and second in the league. Versus UAB, the senior tallied a season-high 11 catches for 138 yards and his second straight three-TD game. In consecutive outings versus East Carolina, Memphis and UAB, Williams totalled 140, 114 and 138 receiving yards on eight, six and 11 catches, respectively. He added six catches for 76 yards at Houston.

With seven touchdown catches this season, Roydell Williams now needs just one more receiving score to tie JaJuan Dawson's all-time record for career touchdown catches with 31. Meanwhile, he is set to become just the third receiver in Tulane history to surpass the 200-catch and 3,000-yard marks with 195 catches and 2,881 yards. Those numbers rank him third on the Tulane all-time charts (behind Marc Zeno and JaJuan Dawson), and he is also sixth in Conference USA history in career catches and fourth in all-time receiving yards. His 30 TD catches are tied for fourth in the conference; he needs three scores to tie the all-time record set by Ibn Green of Louisville from 1996-99.

Tulane's young defensive linemen - TU has no juniors or seniors on the 2004 line - continue to grow up, led by true freshmen Avery Williams and Antonio Harris, who have started every game at defensive tackle and defensive end, respectively. Harris, a Shreveport, La. product, leads all Tulane defensive linemen with 24 tackles while adding 4.5 tackles for loss and a pair of quarterback sacks. He was named the Defensive Player of the Game after making a season-high eight tackles with a tackle for loss at Houston. Houston native Williams has made 19 tackles and his 3.5 sacks rank second on the team.

While Chris Beckman's 43.3-yard punting average leads the league and ranks 17th nationally, even more amazing is the fact that NOT ONE of his 37 punts have gone into the end zone for a touchback. Beckman has landed 14 punts inside the 20-yard line, with seven of those pinning opponents inside the 10. The sophomore has 10 punts of 50-plus yards, including a season-long 55-yard punt at Houston. The Grenada, Miss. native was named to the Watch List for the 2004 Ray Guy Award.

Linebacker Anthony Cannon is seeking to become the first Green Wave defender since Mike Staid (1991-94) to compile 100 or more tackles in three straight seasons. Cannon led Tulane with 114 tackles as a freshman in 2002 and added 102 stops a year ago. Through seven games this year, Cannon's 70 tackles lead Tulane as do his six tackles for loss and four sacks. The junior picked off his first career pass at Memphis and showed off his speed at East Carolina by running down ECU punt returner Travis Williams from behind, preventing a Pirate touchdown. He tied his career high with 16 tackles, nine solo, in the Southern Miss game and has four double-figure tackle days this season.

A year ago, Tulane attempted just seven field goals, making three, and that trend continued early this season as the Green Wave was 0-for-1 on threes in the first four games of the year. However, in each of the last three games, Tulane's Nick Beucher has kicked field goals of 40 yards or longer and matched the 2003 season total for threes. His makes include a 46-yard FG versus Memphis, a 53-yard effort to tie for the longest in C-USA history in the UAB game, and a 43-yard attempt at Houston. Tulane has not made field goals in three straight games since the last three contests of the 2002 season (Army, Southern Miss, Hawai'i). No Tulane kicker has made field goals of 40 yards or longer in three straight games since 2001 when eventual Lou Groza Award winner Seth Marler made field goals of 53, 48 and 50 yards (among nine FGs made in those games) in consecutive games versus ECU, UCF and Southern.

Tulane's young defense -- the Green Wave starts just two seniors on that side of the ball -- is leading Conference USA with 21 quarterback sacks so far this season. TCU also has 21 sacks, although the Horned Frogs have amassed theirs in eight games. The total is already more sacks than Tulane earned last season, when the Green Wave had 15. This year, Tulane almost matched that number in a single game when the Wave collected 11 sacks versus Florida A&M to record the highest single game total since at least 1989. Anthony Cannon's four sacks are more than Tulane's team leader of a year ago, while freshman DT Avery Williams has contributed 3.5 sacks. Eleven players have been in on sacks for Tulane this year.

Tulane continues to rank near the bottom of the charts when it comes to turnover margin. The Green Wave has twice as many give-aways (14) as takeaways (7) this season, although Izzy Route doubled Tulane's interception total on the year with a pickoff at Houston. In its five losses, the Green Wave has turned the ball over 11 times. In only one of those games (Memphis) did Tulane win the turnover battle. After posting its only turnover-less game of the year in the win over UAB, Tulane tied its season-high with three at Houston.

In one game, quarterback Lester Ricard, a redshirt sophomore who is seeing his first collegiate action this season after sitting out the past two years, put his name atop the Tulane record books, ahead of his vaunted predecessors Shaun King, Patrick Ramsey and J.P. Losman. With six touchdown passes versus UAB, Ricard set the school record for touchdown passes in a game, and tied the Conference USA record. Eight times previously, a Tulane QB had thrown five TD passes in a game, including twice each by Losman and Ramsey. The record had stood since 1952.

Ricard also joined Patrick Ramsey as the only Tulane QBs to throw for 400 or more yards in a game as he completed 36-of-49 passes for 417 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions against UAB. The 417 yards rank third on the Tulane single-game list while his 36 completions is tied for second all-time.

Wow Ricard posted some eye-popping statistics in the UAB game, but his second half numbers were even more impressive. The Amite, La. native completed 18-of-21 passes (85.7%) in the second half for 199 yards and three touchdowns. He had a string of 10 straight completions from his last pass of the first half to the eight-minute mark of the fourth quarter. On TU's game-winning drive, he completed seven-of-eight passes for 67 yards, including six straight completions to end the game.

Sophomore Fred Smith continues to excel in the return game. His 75-yard punt return touchdown versus UAB was the first of his career, and the first for Tulane since the 2002 Hawaii Bowl (by Lynaris Elpheage). That play lifted Smith's punt return average to 14.2 yards, which ranks second in the league and 17th nationally. His 228 punt return yards this year are already the 10th-most in school history and more than Tulane collected all of last year. As a team, Tulane ranks 24th in the nation in punt return after finishing the 2003 season 96th.

Defensive back Israel "Izzy" Route continues to excel on special teams for the Green Wave while also making an impact at cornerback. The sophomore has caused two fumbles and recovered two fumbles -- all on special teams plays. He made his second fumble recovery versus UAB on a muffed punt, giving Tulane field position at the UAB 24. In addition, he broke up a pair of passes in that game to rank second on the team with three PBU's on the year. At East Carolina, Route sparked Tulane's second-half comeback by causing a fumble on the second half kickoff which he then picked up and brought back 14 yards for a touchdown. It was his second caused fumble of the game, the first came on punt coverage in the first half.

Smith and Route were just two of several special teams standouts for Tulane in the win over UAB. Early in the second quarter, the Green Wave successfully executed a fake punt as up-back Joey Dawson rushed for seven yards on fourth-and four from the UAB 47 to extend an eventual touchdown drive. At the end of the half, kicker Nick Beucher responded to a late Blazers' TD with a 53-yard field goal to close the UAB lead to seven points. The kick matched the longest ever in Conference USA and tied as the third-longest in Tulane history. Beucher also hit all eight of his critical PAT tries in the game.

Tulane's most famous "Bush" in this presidential election year is wide receiver Chris, who is gaining acclaim in a whole new way this month. The senior is featured in the November 2004 isue of Cosmopolitan Magazine as one of the "50 Hottest Bachelors in the U.S." The magazine's editors selected one man from each of the 50 states and Bush, who was nominated by a friend, earned the nod from Louisiana. Bush is also turning heads on the football field as he established season highs with seven catches for 97 yards and two TDS in the UAB game, including the game-winning score with 27 seconds on the clock. He ranks second on the team with 19 catches for 349 yards and four scores. His 18.4 yards per catch leads the team.

Tulane's 59 points versus UAB were the second-highest total ever for the Green Wave in a Conference USA game behind only the 64 points scored in a 1997 win over Louisville, and the most points scored under Chris Scelfo. It was the Wave's highest point total since 1998 when Tulane put 63 points on the scoreboard versus Louisiana Tech in the regular season finale. The 114 combined points by Tulane and UAB rank second in C-USA history and were the most points ever scored in a Tulane game by two teams, surpassing the 110 points totalled in a 63-47 Wave loss at Virginia in 1968.

Tulane snapped a three-game losing streak with a 59-55 win over UAB in a wild Homecoming affair at Tad Gormley Stadium. The game featured seven fourth-quarter touchdowns, along with a successful fake punt, a 53-yard field goal, and a 75-yard punt return TD by Tulane. The last of Wave QB Lester Ricard's school record six touchdown passes proved to be the game-winner as Ricard connected with Chris Bush on a 12-yard TD hook-up with just 27 seconds left.

Tulane got its first TD on a punt block return since 1999 when Bubba Terranova blocked East Carolina's first punt of the game. Terranova nearly caught the ball with his stomach, but Gabe Ratcliff covered the ball in the end zone for the score. Although Alton Widemon blocked a punt for TU versus Houston last year, the last blocked punt returned for a TD by Tulane was on Nov. 11, 1999 versus SMU when Mitch Mouton scored on an 11-yard return after a block by defensive end Glenn Lemoine.

The Green Wave is 11-of-16 in the red zone this season with 11 touchdowns, but the real story is outside the "zone". The Green Wave has scored 11 touchdowns on plays of 20 yards or longer, including at least one in six of seven games this year. Lester Ricard has thrown nine touchdown passes of longer than 20 yards, including a 59-yarder to Chris Bush versus Mississippi State and 37 and 36 yard touchdown passes to Roydell Williams. His six TD passes in the UAB game included tosses of 29, 22, 34 and 24 yards. Add Fred Smith's 75-yard punt return, Ray Boudreaux's 25-yard TD run and a pair of long field goals by Nick Beucher, and the Wave has 13 scoring plays of longer than 20 yards.

Junior running back Jovon Jackson leads Tulane in rushing with 520 yards on 108 carries and is averaging 4.8 yards per rush. Jackson, who had caught just 10 career passes for 31 yards entering the season, ranks third on the team with 17 catches for 125 yards in 2004. He had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games versus Florida A&M and Southern Miss, shredding the FAMU defense for 134 yards rushing and three touchdowns before adding 112 yards on 18 carries versus Southern Miss, including a season-long 46-yard run. The junior is one of only 14 players in Tulane history to compile three career 100-yard games. Jackson was nicknamed "Shaq" after shattering a basketball backboard as a youngster

Seven games into the season, eight members of the 2004 recruiting class and four redshirt freshmen are regular contributors to the Green Wave line-up. The true freshman group includes starting defensive linemen Avery Williams and Antonio Harris, as well as second teamers Frank Morton (DT), Gabe Ratcliff (TE), Ade Tuyo (FB), Matt Forté (RB) and Joe Goosby (SS). Among the redshirts, Nick Beucher has earned the starting job at kicker while Ray Boudreaux is the first team fullback and Richard Irvin is the No. 2 quarterback. Redshirt Carlis Jackson and true freshman Michael Cox have seen action on special teams this season.

Tulane's 2004 active roster, including walk-ons, features only 10 seniors and 17 juniors. Though the senior class is small, seven (FS Joey Dawson, LB Wesley Heath, LB Blake Baker, OT Jimmy Kosienski, WR Chris Bush, WR Roydell Williams and WR Carl Davis) of the 10 have started on offense or defense while Gerald Brobbey and deep snapper Lane Macaluso are special teams stalwarts. The rest of Tulane's 92-man roster is composed of freshmen (true and redshirt) and sophomores, for a total of 66 underclassmen, or more than two-thirds of the 2004 team.

Each of Tulane's last three starting quarterbacks is currently in the NFL -- Shaun King (Tulane starter 1996-98) with the Arizona Cardinals, Patrick Ramsey (1999-2001) of the Washington Redskins and J.P. Losman (2002-03) with the Buffalo Bills. Ramsey (32nd in 2002) and Losman (22nd in 2004 were both first-round draft choices. With its last three starting QBs in the NFL, Tulane ranks fifth among all Division I-A schools, behind only Michigan, Florida, Washington and Oregon.

Five former Green Wave players were on NFL opening day rosters, with two more Tulanians on injured reserve. The list includes two members of the 2003 team and Tulane's last three QBs (see above). Tulane all-time great Mewelde Moore has started the last four games at running back for the Vikings after being selected in the fourth round of the 2004 draft. Losman, a first round draft choice of the Bills, broke his leg during preseason while former TU kicker Seth Marler (1999-2002) is on injured reserve with the Jaguars, the same place that DB Alphonso Roundtree (1995-98) finds himself. The only other active Green Waver on a roster is New York Jets running back Jerald Sowell (1993-96).

The Tulane-Navy game will be seen statewide on Cox Sports TV beginning at 11 p.m. Saturday night with a second replay Monday at 4 pm in New Orleans on Cox 10, with a possible showing again Tuesday at 7 p.m. on Cox Sports TV. Calling the game will be Bob DelGiorno, Jr. and Rich Mauti.

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