SI.com 2003 College Football Preview




SI.com's College Football Team Previews - from Athlon Sports

  Tulane Green Wave

 
The Lowdown
Coach: Chris Scelfo (5th year, 20-27)
2002 record: 8-5 (Beat Hawaii 36-28 in Hawaii Bowl)
C-USA finish: T-5th
2002 offensive stats:
Rush: 109.4 ypg
(9th in C-USA, 101st in nation)
Pass: 203.5 ypg (6th, 65th)
2002 defensive stats:
Rush: 180.1 ypg (7th, 93rd)
Pass: 191.9 ypg (5th, 32nd)
Projected Starters
Offense (8 returning starters in bold)
WR  80  Chris Bush  Jr. 
WR  Tristan Smith  Jr. 
WR   8   Nick Narcisse   Jr.  
LT   68   Chris McGee   So.  
LG   72   Matt Traina   So.  
50  Will Blaylock  So. 
RG  66  Donald Madlock  So. 
RT   76   Jimmy Kosienski   Jr.  
TE   88   Bobby Hoover   Jr.  
QB   7   J.P. Losman   Sr.  
RB   26   Mewelde Moore   Sr.  
FB   38   Kris Coleman   Sr.  
Defense (2)
DE  95  Michael Roberts  So. 
DT  81  Terrence Tarver  Sr. 
DT  99  Wallace Mateen  Jr. 
DE  40  Daniel Nevil  Sr. 
LB   41   Wesley Heath   Sr.  
LB  32  Brandt Quick  Sr. 
LB   36   Anthony Cannon   So.  
CB  20  Bruce Youmans  So. 
CB  31  Sean Lucas  So. 
SS  23  Tra Boger  Jr. 
FS  27  Joey Dawson  Jr. 
Special Teams
Barrett Pepper  Fr. 
45  Chris Beckman  Fr. 
KR  Tristan Smith  Jr. 
PR  Tristan Smith  Jr. 
2003 Schedule
Sept. 1  TCU 
Sept. 6  Northwestern State 
Sept. 13  Mississippi State 
Sept. 20  at Army 
Sept. 27  at Texas 
Oct. 11  Houston 
Oct. 18  at Louisville 
Oct. 25  Memphis 
Nov. 1  at Navy 
Nov. 8  at UAB 
Nov. 15  at Southern Miss 
Nov. 22  East Carolina 
Mewelde Moore for Heisman? Don't laugh. C-USA teams traditionally don't pack the strength-of-schedule punch to launch successful Heisman campaigns, but if Tulane can muster the talent, chemistry and luck to go unbeaten in September, the league may have a candidate in Moore, the nation's best all-purpose back and one of the most productive in NCAA history.

Moore, a senior, has compiled more rushing and receiving yards (3,860) in the last two seasons than any other returning player in the country.

"It's statistically proven that Mewelde is, if not the best, then one of the best to ever play here," says Tulane coach Chris Scelfo. "Then you add in his pass-catching ability, his vision and his strength. He excels at everything he puts his mind to."

Of course, getting through a difficult September unscathed will be challenging. Tulane, which finished 8-5 and ended the season with a win over Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl, opens against defending league champion TCU, plays Mississippi State in mid-September and ends the month at perennial national power Texas.

OFFENSIVE KEYS:

Moore is the centerpiece of the Green Wave attack, but he won't be the team's only offensive weapon. Quarterback J.P. Losman, at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, has the size to play at the next level. A threat to run, he also can throw accurately on the run.

At receiver, Tulane will welcome back Roydell Williams, perhaps the best at his position in the conference. Williams missed most of last season after breaking a bone in his left leg and was granted a medical hardship. Two years ago, he averaged a team-best 15.8 yards per catch.

On the offensive line, the Green Wave has a future all-conference player in sophomore tackle Chris McGee. Somewhat undersized at 265 pounds, he was the line's most dominant blocker and displayed excellent footwork.

DEFENSIVE KEYS:

Defensive coordinator Eric Schumann was courted heavily by former Alabama coach Mike Price, but resisted an offer to return to his alma mater to continue rebuilding the Tulane defense. Last year, Schumann's first at Tulane, the Green Wave made significant improvements. This year, though, no starters return on the defensive line or in the secondary. Schumann may get a boost from the move of linebacker Daniel Nevil to defensive end. Nevil is a bit undersized at 220 pounds, but he could be a disruptive presence. Two years ago as a linebacker, he was second on the team with 112 tackles, including 12 for lost yardage, and had five sacks.

At linebacker, two starters -- Wesley Heath and Anthony Cannon -- return along with Brandon Spincer, a member of the C-USA All-Freshman Team two years ago. He sat out 2002 for academic reasons.

In the secondary, Schumann is counting on sophomores Sean Lucas and Bruce Youmans, who had a solid spring, and junior Tra Boger. Lucas possesses sprinter's speed, which he used to turn three returns into scores a year ago.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

The program's historically strong kicking game will be entrusted to two rookies: placekicker Barrett Pepper and punter Chris Beckman. Pepper has a strong leg, and while he also punted for his high school team, Beckman will get the nod. Beckman averaged 41 yards per punt, with a long of 68 yards, as a high school senior.

FINAL ANALYSIS:

Tulane will field one of the conference's top offenses. Losman completed nearly 60 percent of his passes a year ago and threw for 19 touchdowns. He was intercepted only 10 times. Moore is as dangerous a dual threat as there is in the nation, and Williams is returning after missing most of last year with an injury. The offensive unit returns almost intact. Where the Green Wave must make up ground is on defense.

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