So we've reached the
quarter pole first marker in the horse race known as the college football season. And thankfully for Tulane's sake, the doctor hasn't brought out the shotgun yet. The Green Wave came out of the gate limping, but did what it needed to do to make up some ground in the race.
OK. Enough horsing around. Let's get down to business.
What we know about Tulane so far
The offense is going to be awful again
As long as the Green Wave face a team from the Football Bowl Subdivision, get used to Curtis Johnson's team scoring fewer than 14 points per outing. Here's the problem: Tulane only faces FBS opponents from here on out.
While Duke and Georgia Tech are ranked eighth and 38th, respectively, in total defense as of Thursday night, the Green Wave should have been able to move the ball a bit — and didn't. Tulane punted 15 total times in between those two games and only scored 17 total points.
Then Maine came along and the Green Wave looked like King Kong in a 38-7 win. Tulane scored its most points since November 23, 2013 and rolled up nearly 500 yards of total offense.
That game against the Black Bears was the exception, not the rule.
The root of the Green Wave's problem is the offensive line. There are few holes on a consistent basis for running backs Dontrell Hilliard and Lazedrick Thompson, plus opposing defenses tee off on quarterback Tanner Lee (sacked 10 times in three games). No running game and a sitting duck in the pocket spells disaster for Tulane.
The defense can't carry this team
Let's say this off the bat: The Green Wave's defense has some decent pieces. Linebacker Nico Marley (25 tackles), linebacker Jarrod Franklin (20 tackles) and safety Darion Monroe (11 tackles) are strong, while first-year cornerback Donnie Lewis has shown promise.
But Tulane can't tackle. And the Green Wave can't get pressure on the opposing quarterback (one sack through three games).
Tulane will get a reprieve when UCF comes to town next Saturday at 11 a.m., but those next four games (at Temple, vs. Houston, at Navy and at Memphis) could get ugly.
What we don't know about Tulane so far
Can the Green Wave go one week the rest of the way without a player being suspended for a violation of team rules?
Two weeks ago Monroe didn't suit up against Georgia Tech. Neither did freshman linebacker Eric Bowie.
Backup tight end Trey Scott was left off the roster the following week.
Three in two weeks is definitely troubling from a discipline standpoint.
To Monroe's credit, he owned up to his mistake at the weekly press conference and had a decent game against Maine (3 tackles, one interception, one pass break-up).
Reassessing Tulane's chances
Before the season began, I said there was a strong chance the Green Wave could go to a bowl game. A record of 6-6 seemed doable before I got to see the team play.
Do I still think that? Nope.
Well, I had Tulane going 1-2 through three games so nothing really changed on that front. While next week's game against UCF seems more winnable than ever before, I can't see the Green Wave winning more than one game the rest of the way with how it has played thus far. Tulane can't stop the run, so Army will most likely be a loss and SMU and Tulsa are better than expected. The Green Wave and UConn are going to set the game of football back 70 years.
Thanks to an astute reader, I found out I've been wrong about what a quarter pole is my whole life. It's not the first quarter of the race, it's the last. Thanks, @BravesStats!
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. QUARTER POLE = ONE QUARTER TO GO https://t.co/MwIK0E6SvB— Paul (@BravesStats) September 26, 2015