Tulane Looks For Consistency On Saturday vs. Army

On Saturday, Tulane improved to 3-1 at home this year by upsetting Navy, 42-10. The Midshipmen had entered the game with a 7-1 record. The Green Wave led by quarterback Lester Ricard who completed 18-of-19 passes to set a school and Conference USA record for completion percentage

NEW ORLEANS, La. – After an impressive win over one military academy last Saturday, Tulane University will look to make it two in a row this Saturday as the Green Wave hosts Army at 6 p.m. at the Louisiana Superdome. Tickets are available by calling 504-861-WAVE.

On Saturday, Tulane improved to 3-1 at home this year by upsetting Navy, 42-10. The Midshipmen had entered the game with a 7-1 record. The Green Wave led by quarterback Lester Ricard who completed 18-of-19 passes to set a school and Conference USA record for completion percentage.

This weekend, Army comes to town under first-year head coach Bobby Ross, who coached the San Diego Chargers to the Super Bowl during his NFL days. Tulane has never defeated both Navy and Army in the same year.

Head coach Chris Scelfo addressed the media in his Tuesday morning press conference at the Hall of Fame Room of Tulane's Wilson Center.

Chris Scelfo Opening Statement
"I thought the game on Saturday was our first complete game of the year. I think our kids really played well on both sides of the ball offensively and defensively. I was a little disappointed in our special teams play at times. It's something that we have prided ourselves on all year. It was a game that we really needed to get some things corrected, but I saw our kids grow up on both sides of the ball; as we talked about all year, getting a bit better each day. Each Saturday may not always translate into wins or losses, but I felt Saturday was a good indication of what this team is made out of to beat a team as good as Navy which came in here 7-1. And to play as well as we did obviously it was very satisfying for me.

"Our quarterback had an outstanding day; the consistency is what we have to get out of that position. As I have stated before for our team to be successful we have to be consistent in that area. I think our defensive line played as well as they could play Saturday, they have continued to improve every week and they got a chance to be a really good unit there. Overall, this is an experience we be able to draw from and build on in the future and be able to reference that game on Saturday."

Can you explain why this has been such a rollercoaster season?
"I think there's a long term use for that: schizophrenia. We have to get over that. That's what we have been striving to do is be consistent; at this point, I can't explain it; except maybe the lack of seniors and juniors on our football team at this point in time. With that goes a lock of a sense of urgency, lack of understanding 60 minutes, lack of understanding focus in practice. I think we have improved in that area some, but we are not where we need to be."

Having played a full 60 minutes, is it more likely you will do it again?
"That's what we're striving for, but we played 60 minutes on one side of the ball in one game [UAB] and then the next week, seven days later, we didn't play very well on that side of the ball. We're striving to do that, but we haven't done it yet."

Does that have you worried?
"That always has me worried. Every week it's a concern. Understanding it and executing it; we can reference last Saturday's game for this Saturday and the following Saturdays and the following years, because most of these guys are going to be here a few years. It's a reference point for us."

Have you dealt with an up-and-down season like this?
"Personally it's frustrating because you know it's there and you know you want it to happen, the consistency-part of it. From a team standpoint, I don't the guys have grasped the things that I have mentioned: the consistency, the focus, the importance of playing your best every play. That's what we're striving to do. We don't have enough guys on our team that have done it. These guys are having to learn as they go and it is a maturation process."

How have the last few games helped you with recruiting, especially with offensive players?
"The tradition here in the last six years offensively is a tremendous draw for us. If you're a quarterback or a receiver or a running back, it's a pretty exciting offense when it's hitting on all cylinders. The system has been in place and we have had a lot of success with it. The components change year-in and year-out, but it's not a one-hit wonder. It has been pretty consistent.

Are injuries catching up with you?
"Coming into this year we were deficient in key areas, obviously quarterback, defensive line. We lose out starting safeties, both of them in Tra Boger and Brandon Spincer; it does take away from you, but I talked about it earlier in the year. We're not going to address injuries; it's somebody else's turn. We have to make sure that those guys are ready to go. Last year we let it [injury problems] get to us some; this year, we can't let that happen. We have to just plug in the next guy and go. It does take away from the continuity and the consistency that you strive for."

Do you think that your team goes as your quarterback goes?
"The way this season has unfolded, it is the truth. The three games we have won, we have had [less] turnovers. That is a pretty telling statistic right there. The quarterback gets way too much credit and way too much blame, but he is a very important part of our success. When he does play well, we have played well. But he needs those other 10 guys to play well also and that's what happened Saturday."

Did you see anything last week in practice which led you to believe Lester Ricard would go 18-for-19?
"He wasn't 18-out-of-19 vs. air last week in practice, so no. He was really 20-of-21, two of them were called back and one of them was a throwaway. To answer your question in the simple form, no. I thought he had a good week of practice. Again, he's a guy who didn't come up in our system; we expected some ups and downs. If he maintains his composure and grows and matures, he'll be fine. I was very happy to see him take off on 1st-and-20 and get 18 yards. That was a big play in the game for us."

Do you talk to Lester specifically about being consistent?
"That goes for the whole team. I talked to them Sunday about it. We buried the Navy game Sunday night; we have to get on Army. It's the best Army team we have played since we've been here. Consistency is what we've got to do. The intensity has to be there at every position. I told Lester, ‘Good game and let's get ready for the next one.'"

What do you think of Bobby Ross coaching at Army?
"He is one of the most respected coaches in the business. Every place he has ever been, he has won. He's got them playing with a lot of confidence. He has a junior-senior laden team; they do everything right; they are very technically and fundamentally sound which you expect from all Army teams. They play very hard; they run a pro-style offense; I think their back is leading the league in rushing; their quarterback has been very efficient; they haven't turned it over much. You can definitely see that his stamp is on it."

What have you seen different about Army from game one to now?
"The biggest thing is learning the new system on offense, getting adjusted to that and they have been healthy. When you do that and week-in and week-out you are able to plug in the same players and get a couple of big wins like they got. They have been consistent and they have taken care of the football."

What is their offense like?
"Offensively, they want to feature #30, their running back. Every game you watch, he has broken off two or three long, long runs. They run the outside zone, the inside zone, they wham you; they run a little bit of option. Their play-action passes are something we have to be very disciplined with. They try to lull you to sleep, lull you to sleep, lull to sleep, then bam! They come out and hit a big play on you. In the passing game, they have a big 6-6 receiver who can go out and make the catch. Defensively, they are a typical Army team; they play hard; they're in the right spots. They are very aggressive this year. It is an area where we all have to be on the same page because they're going give us some different looks and we have to recognize what they're doing."

Are they like other teams you have faced this year?
"Offensively, not really. Defensively, they are based out of an eight-man front; we've played some of those teams. "

What do you expect them to do against you defensively?
"The way they are conformed defensively is to set up an eight-man front to stop the run first. But they buzz those guys out; they'll rush three, drop eight. They mix it up. They'll come after us. They do a good job with all of it."

What do you have to do on Saturday?
"When the ball is kicked off, we have to play with intensity because it's going to take a full 60 minutes. It's going to be a tremendous challenge."

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