Game-By-Game Predictions for Tulane's 2014 Season
For those terrible at math and need a calculator – like myself (hey, I’m a writer, it’s just natural) – that’s an average of 3.3 wins per season during this 10-year span.
Chris Scelfo had his moments in New Orleans, but was fired in 2006 after the program started a significant dive. In came former UCLA head coach Bob Toledo, who was supposed to stop the bleeding, but instead made it worse – Tulane went 15-46 under his reign before he ultimately resigned midseason in 2011.
Tulane was desperate for a leader; someone that could come in and immediately change the culture and make the Green Wave competitive again.
Curtis Johnson was that man.
After spending his previous six years with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints as a wide receivers coach – and with no head coaching experience – Johnson won two games in 2012 before doing what no other Tulane coach had done in a decade.
He led his team to a bowl game.
Tulane was bowl-eligible by October 26 last season, jumping out to a 6-2 record and beating both North Texas and East Carolina. The Green Wave ended up losing four of their final five games, three in which came by a total of 10 points.
But the point is this: Tulane is relevant again. It has its very own home stadium (projected to be ready for its home opener against Georgia Tech), an actual identity with an aggressive, all-or-nothing defensive approach, and a renewed thirst for winning.
There will be some issues with turnover and a difficult schedule transferring from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference, but Tulane is moving in the right direction, and fast.
Let’s take a glance at the Green Wave’s 2014 schedule and make some early predictions:
8/28 – at Tulsa: WIN
Oh how the times have changed. Tulane had lost eight straight games to Tulsa from 2005-12 by an average of 30.9 points per game before finally breaking through with a 14-7 win last season. With not a whole lot of positivity going for the Golden Hurricane heading into fall, I expect a similar result.
9/6 – vs. Georgia Tech: LOSS
Last season, Tulane’s defense was all about efficiency. Its success was based off winning the battle for field position and allowing the occasional big play in exchange for multiple three-and-outs and short drives. However, Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack is a mismatch for this type of game plan. One over-pursued blitz from the edge or miscommunication between linebackers could mean an 80-yard touchdown run, which could be the difference.
9/13 – vs. Southeast Louisiana: WIN
After seeing the speed and athleticism Georgia Tech has to offer on offense, seeing an FCS team will be a cake walk.
9/20 – at Duke: LOSS
Duke returns eight starters – including quarterback Anthony Boone – to a high-powered offense that scored 32.8 points per game in 2013. More importantly, it will field what should be an improved front seven unit on defense that will be better at stopping the run. If Tulane can find some sort of consistency from its (currently unnamed) quarterback and young group of undeveloped wide receivers, then it has a better chance to win this game.
9/27 – at Rutgers: WIN
By this point, the offense had better have found some chemistry. Tulane’s top two offensive skill players – Ryan Grant and Orleans Darkwa – are gone, and somebody needs to step up and fill the void or else it’s going to be a repeat performance on this side of the ball in 2014. Rutgers could be the perfect antidote for the Green Wave to gather some sort of rhythm and find confidence moving forward.
10/11 – vs. Connecticut: WIN
Bob Diaco has a lot of work to do in his first season as head coach. UConn is a project with plenty of question marks at every key position. Expect defensive ends Tyler Gilbert and Royce LaFrance to wreak havoc on an offensive line that replaces four starters that, simply put, weren’t very good in the first place.
10/18 – at Central Florida: LOSS
Although it loses starting quarterback Blake Bortles to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Central Florida has a skilled group of wide receivers that will open up the running game and an experienced defense that plays really well with each other. The Knights are still a few steps ahead of Tulane, and that’s O.K.
10/31 – vs. Cincinnati: LOSS
Halloween in New Orleans; now that’s a sight. Can Tulane’s find the same success it had in the middle of the field as it did in 2013? It replaces five big-time players, from nose tackle Chris Davenport to safety Sam Scofield. If not, Gunner Kiel and the Cincinnati offense – along with other teams with the ability to stretch the field – will be able to move the ball downfield frequently.
11/8 – at Houston: WIN
Tulane’s barbaric-like aggression will be a true test for Houston quarterback John O’Korn’s decision-making skills, which were questionable at times in 2013.
11/15 – vs. Memphis: WIN
This could be a much more difficult task than expected if Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch comes to his own by Week 12. The Tigers have some serious options at wide receiver, are solid up front and feisty on defense. Getting to the backfield and putting pressure on Lynch will be a point of focus for Tulane.
11/22 – East Carolina: LOSS
Like Cincinnati, Tulane will have to prevent Shane Carden from exploiting weakness in the middle of the field – or anywhere else, for that matter (Carden threw for 480 yards in last year’s matchup). The Green Wave scored 36 on ECU in 2013, but 22 came by field goals or defense. That just won’t fly in 2014.
12/6 – vs. Temple: WIN
As mentioned yesterday, Temple is an up-and-coming team and could surprise some quality opponents. But traveling from Philadelphia to New Orleans in December is tough, and will be even more mentally draining if the Owls are already out of bowl contention.
2014 Tulane Projected Record: 7-5 (5-3)
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