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August 24, 2007The Bob Toledo Era begins this fall, as the longtime UCLA coach is the new leader of the Green Wave. Toledo has the tough task of basically starting from the ground up to try and build a program that has lacked consistency for decades.
Everything that former coach Tommy Bowden and his staff did to try and build Tulane into a decent program went by the waist side under Chris Scelfo's watch. And with the program failing to get full fledge support over the last several years, Toledo's reign as coach could either save the program or get it further into debt.
Toledo has some talent back to deal with this year and hopefully that talent and Toledo's coaching can help Tulane reach the .500 mark in 2007. Former Slidell RB Matt Forte is a legit All-CUSA Player.
Forte enters his senior season with 2,138 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns along with 71 receptions for 683 yards and five TD's to his credit. Forte has caught the eyes of NFL scouts and with a solid outing this season he should hear his named called come April's NFL Draft. Forte should receive more carries this year as Toledo has vowed to run the ball more on offense.
WR Jeremy Williams is back to lead a solid group of receivers. Williams hauled in 40 catches for 484 yards and two TD's. Look for junior Brian King to have a breakout year this season and remember the names Casey Robottom and Michael Batiste. Robottom is a gutsy kid that will sacrifice his body for the ball and if Batiste catches the ball he is a threat because of his size.
Now the question marks on offense lie at the quarterback and offensive line positions. Scott Elliot is a serviceable QB but I am not sure that he is the guy for Toledo. Elliot has the most experience of the Wave's top three QB's but don't be surprised if Toledo uses a QB by committee look some this season.
Anthony Scelfo is a solid athlete that competes hard every play but the guy that looks to be the future of the Wave is redshirt freshman Kevin Moore. Moore is a 6-foot-5, 230 pound gunslinger in need of some experience. Moore and Elliot had a nice battle during the spring and Moore looks like the future. That future may be sooner than later.
The offensive line does return three starters but it must show a lot of improvement this season. The Wave's OL allowed 29 sacks last season and the offensive unit finished near last in total offense with a 105 ranking out of 119 Division I-A Teams. A usual high scoring offense averaged on 18.7 points per game in 2006.
The defense has eight players back and they got a dose of what to expect from Toledo this spring. Toledo put his defense through a physical spring and I do think they will be much improved this season.
The Wave welcome back eight starters from last season's defense including five of their front seven. Former San Diego State defensive coordinator Thom Kaumeyer is a good schemer and led the Aztecs to an No. 8 overall defensive ranking in 2003. He takes over a unit that could be one of the most improved units in the country.
Senior defensive linemen Avery Williams )6-foot-2, 290 pounds) and Antonio Harris (6-foot-3, 285 pounds) are a solid duo that will be key for the Wave. If the front seven can hold tough then the Wave might not be embarrassed against the run each week.
Middle linebacker Evan Lee should have another solid season and James Dillard is back after a solid sophomore campaign. The secondary should be better as well and look for former West St. John Ram Josh Lumar to play salty this year.
The Big Chief's Final Analysis
I like the hire of Toledo and I think he can win at Tulane. Toledo was one of the top coaches in the country back in the late 1990's and if it weren't for a push backed game with Miami he would have led the Bruins to the National Title Game then. Toledo has to be competitive his first couple of seasons and then he could lead the Wave to a bowl each season.
I truly believe that Toledo is a coach that would stick around for a while regardless of how high the success. He is on he back side of his career much like Kentucky's Rich Brooks, but Toledo has a lot left in the tank.
The key with Tulane coaches is recruiting southeast Louisiana. All coaches have said they were going to recruit hard in the New Orleans Metro Area but never did. There is enough talent in this area for Tulane to have a six or seven win team each year. Buddy Teevens did it well and so did Bowden but even those two did not fully tap into the city's talent.
The Green Wave's schedule is not as bad as last season but any of the teams on their schedule with the exception of Southeastern can beat the Wave and will be favored when playing Tulane. I am hoping for a six win season but the likely hood is more like five or maybe four wins being the final record.