NEW ORLEANS, La. – After opening the season at 1-4, head coach Chris Scelfo has directed an impressive turnaround for the Tulane football team, which has won four of five games to climb to .500 on the season. This Saturday, the Green Wave plays its regular season finale, hosting No. 7 Louisville at the Louisiana Superdome at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 504-861-WAVE.
With a victory on Saturday, the Wave would become bowl-eligible for the third time in the last five years.
Saturday's game was originally scheduled for Sept. 18, but was post-poned due to Hurricane Ivan, which hit the Gulf Coast.
This past Saturday, the Green Wave traveled to Fort Worth and upset TCU, 35-31, using a 99-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes to wrap up the victory and send the Horned Frogs out of Conference USA with a loss and no bowl appearance.
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 appreciate you all for being here today and all year long. This is our last press conference and I appreciate the patience that you all have shown. You have rode along with us and watched this team grow up and it has really helped. On the game last Saturday, I thought it was a tremendous win for us for all the reasons that I think it happened for. To be able to go on the road and play a team that was trying to be bowl eligible with a first-time starter at quarterback, a second-time starter at running back; all of the things that were perceived in this game and then the way the game unfolded. Having a big defense stand in the end and going 99 yards to win the game is tremendous for our program.
"As I spoke about earlier this year, we have a young team that was getting better and sometimes the scoreboard didn't reflect it, but it has reflected these last couple of weeks. It is a good group that has a lot of character and pride and for them to do that on Saturday was great.
"This week Louisville, I think every one knows that they are an outstanding football team and they do not have a weakness. They have done it week-in and week-out against everybody and it is going to be a tremendous challenge for us.
Did quarterback Richard Irvin's performance on Saturday surprise you?
Not so much statistically, but his composure and poise. Obviously he has played throughout the course of the year and I think that helped him, but his demeanor throughout the course of the game was surprising.
Did his performance in practice lead you to believe Irvin could do what he did?
You never know until you get out there and get the keys handed to you. It is tough to say, I would like to be able say yes, I knew he had all that in him. I knew he was a competitor, but for me to be real sure that he was going to react like that I wasn't real sure.
Was it surprising to win despite all of your injuries?
To be real frank we have beat some good football teams along the stretch with some guys that weren't there at the start of the year; we have had some injuries major injuries. What is not surprising to me is the character of this unit. I said it back when we were 1-4, they never wavered, the staff stayed the course and continued to do what we felt was the right thing and never panicked and kept building and that is why we are sitting at 5-5.
With all that has happened, has this been your most satisfying season of coaching?
I haven't had time to sit and think about that but it has been very satisfying. From where we started in August to where we are today and what we have accomplished, it has been very satisfying.
What was the low point of the season?
Probably when J.P. Losman and Mo [Mewelde Moore] graduated [laughing]. There were a lot of low points, but none that dethroned us from our goal that we set in August. Everyone in this room knew that this was going to be a tough year for us. You don't lose the quality of players that we lost and only have four or five seniors on your team that are playing for you. I don't think I hit a low point.
Was the UAB game the turning point for your team?
I know it was for our QB [Lester Ricard, who threw six touchdown passes in the game]. It got turned off on the defensive side of the ball after that one but in any case that obviously gave us some confidence after that one. But to go out and lose the next one; that is one thing that we have to improve on is being more consistent.
How do you prepare for a team like Louisville?
Schematically we have to be very sound, and make them execute every time. We have to be a position to make some plays and we have to make them. That is the bottom line, it is no different preparing for them as it is for anyone else, you have got to be in kilter with what we are doing game-plan wise.
As a head coach how concerned do you get when you say no one has stopped them?
There is a first time for everything and we are going to try. I can guarantee that we will be at the Dome at 1:30 and we will be ready to play and fight for 60 minutes. We are going to be there on time and kick it off.
What has been the most impressive thing about Louisville?
How balanced they are, their offensive line is very good, their QB is an operator, their running backs all can go the distance on every play, their receivers are very talented. They probably have 10 or 12 NFL prospects on their team and they utilize all of them.
Why have your quarterbacks been able to consistently succeed?
I am not going to tell you that, I don't want anyone else to duplicate that [laughs]. I think a standard has been set here and you have got to live up to that with confidence. Frank [Offensive coordinator Frank Scelfo] has done a tremendous job grooming guys and confidence level with them and we have a system that plays to the QB. It works both ways, the QB has gotten too much credit and too much fame and when he plays well. We have a chance and our system allows the quarterback to do that.
Are the personalities of Lester Ricard and Richard Irvin similar?
I will let you deduct your conclusion from this right here: one is from Amite, La., and one is from Los Angels, Calif. They are from two different sides of the spectrum, one grew up in Beverly Hills and the other in Amite, but they are both competitors and have confidence in themselves and they both have had some success here.
With Richard Irvin's performance, do you think you will controversy on who will start this next fall in the QB position?
It won't be any different, guys are going to have to prepare all spring and summer. Hopefully there is competition in every position and I don't think it will be any different there.
What do you need to do to beat Louisville?
We have to take care of the ball on offense and have some help from them to cause some turnovers. Obviously we have to play as well as we can play and make some things happen in our favor.
Is Louisville the best team you have coached against in your career?
I would say they are in the mix; Tennessee won a national championship when I was there [in the SEC at Georgia] and Florida the next year, or vise versa, these guys are good.
Who do you think is the best team you have played this season?
On the day we played them this year, I think you can pick any one of those five that beat us. I couldn't take anything away from any of those. This [Louisville] is the best team we have played, if you look at it, everyone has three conference losses minimum, and they don't have any.
Would you say this is the best team you have played since you have been here?
This one and last year's Texas team.
Will you later your style, maybe try to hold the ball longer to keep their offense off the field?
We are going to run our offense and our defense, we are going to let our kids play and we have to be sound on special teams.
Are you expecting a shoot out?
They have been scoring a lot of points and we are going to have to score a lot of points as well.
Do you use bowl eligibility as a motivator for your team?
We have a lot to play for; we have a lot of character in this football team, a lot of pride. We are bruised and battered, we have a lot of guys that have been out and have done some time [on the injured list] and it is someone else's opportunity to step in. You do the same thing we have been doing all year long; you do it right and the way you have been coached to do it and do it as hard and as fast as you can.
Green Wave Football Looking For Bowl Eligibility
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