Tulane: Out - LB Sule Osagiede (Neck); WR Wilson Van Hooser (Shin); S Corey Sonnier (Suspended); DT Reggie Scott (Suspended); DT Rich Bell (Suspended); Questionable - LB Oscar Ponce de Leon (Hamstring); DL Tony Bryant (Ankle); Probable - OL Taylor Rice (Leg); LB Travis Burks (?)
BYU: Out - OL Houston Reynolds (Knee); OL Jason Speredon (Shoulder); Questionable - RB Harvey Unga (Hamstring); DB Robbie Buckner (Hamstring); Probable - OL Matt Reynolds (Hand); LB Matt Bauman (Concussion)
Tulane finished 2-10 last season, losing their final eight games. Their only victories were over Louisiana-Monroe and SMU. Still, Bob Toledo has returned for his third season as head coach after compiling an unimpressive 6-18 record. You might remember him from his days as head coach at UCLA where he coached for seven seasons (1996-2002), amassing 49 wins and 32 losses with the Bruins. Toledo has also had experience as an assistant coaching at USC, Oregon, Texas A&M and New Mexico.
Toledo's program returns 13 players from last season's disaster - including senior RB Andre Anderson who ran for over 800 yards last season despite missing five games due to injury. He also ran for 49 last week in a loss to Tulsa. Another senior, WR Jeremy Williams, also missed five games in 2008 but still managed to have 437 yards receiving. Williams caught five passes for 139 yards last week. Finally, sophomore QB Joe Kemp beat out last season's starter, Kevin Moore, and threw for 278 yards on 16/26 with both a TD and a pick. Despite this experience and changes, Tulane only managed 13 points in week one against the Golden Hurricane. Things don't look to get much better against a BYU defense that held an Oklahoma team (that averaged 51 points a game in 2008) to just 13 points as well.
More information on the Tulane defense, links, quotes, etc. after the jump...
On the defensive side, the Green Wave's leading tackler (86) from 2008, S Corey Sonnier is suspended. Senior DT Reggie Scott, who has started 23 games at Tulane, is also suspended. Tulane runs a basic 4-3 package and does however have some experience at DE and linebacker. Adam Kwentua (48 tackles last season) and Logan Kelley (7 sacks last season) are each senior DE's and senior strong-side LB David Kirksey is decent. Their best LB, arguably, Travis Burks (40 tackles, 2 fumbles, 2 INT's), was injured last week but is probably for Saturday. Overall the team boasts some good athletes and Toledo's club should improve on last season's disappointment - but don't expect them to hang with the Cougars for long.
Expect a consequtive week of "hungry" football from BYU's defense. The offense should also improve as the O-line won't have to deal with a DT like Gerald McCoy. Even without Harvey Unga, the Cougar's running game should improve dramatically - especially in short-yardage situations. Tulane gave up over 200 yards on the ground to Tulsa, similar to last year when the Tulane run-defense was among the worst in college football (113th). More of the same efficiency between Hall and longtime targets Pitta, George and Tonga should overwhelm the Green Wave.
Whereas the Sooners were able to limit BYU to just two touchdowns, Tulane likely won't be able to keep the Cougars from at least doubling that result. Now, I should have learned my lesson last week when I projected the OU contest to be high scoring. Still, I don't see how BYU will allow more to Tulane than they did to OU - or more than Tulsa did last Saturday. Nor do I believe Tulane has the depth or the defensive play-makers to force BYU into a low-scoring affair. I'm calling it BYU 45, Tulane 10.
"I've played them [BYU] many times and they are a mature football team. They don't make a lot of mistakes. They're an excellent football team. They're big, they're strong, they're physical, they're athletic. They're well coached and they'll be one of the best teams in that Mountain West Conference, if not, the best team this yea... They are on a mission right now and having started with a great win. They know they could quite possibly run the table and be like Utah was a year ago." – Bob Toledo, Tulane Head Coach
"Bob Toledo is someone that I've known for quite some time, if not personally, by reputation and what schemes they run. There have been plenty of opportunities to study offenses that he's coached, whether at New Mexico or UCLA. His philosophy is very sound. It's always been productive and it hasn't changed much from university to university. The core remains the same and the use of personnel becomes a little different ... The scheme uncertainty isn't nearly the same as what those might think against a new opponent. The personnel is something we don't know quite as well." – Bronco Mendenhall, BYU Head Coach