Dr. Saturday - NCAAF

An absurdly premature assessment of the 2010 Green Wave.

Why they might look familiar: Apart from being a charter member of the SEC and producing Matt Forte, Patrick Ramsey, and JP Losman, Tulane is remembered largely for the pluck that powered them through a 2005 post-Katrina football season without the advantage of a home field (or any semblance of normal university life at all, really). The Green Wave soldiered through borrowed equipment, unfamiliar practice facilities, and pernicious poaching attempts to go 2-9 on the year with a team coaches had thought to be one of their strongest assemblies of talent heading into the season.

Previously on: A couple nasty non-conference dates, a strong Conference USA, and an utter and complete lack of anything remotely resembling a coherent defense doomed Tulane '09. Their 3-9 finish gave them sole ownership of last place in C-USA West.

The wins, when they came, were at the expense of McNeese State, Army by one point via a fourth-quarter comeback, and ... UTEP? (Whatever, UTEP. We all know you just did that for attention.) The losses were much more glaring: 54-3 and 42-0 at the hands of their Big Six competition, BYU and LSU toplined the misery, with the closest loss coming in the season finale, 26-21 at Southern Methodist. This last stung the most, as Tulane actually led at one point in the fourth quarter, and as Southern Methodist was really pretty good in 2009.

Some arbitrary fun with numbers: The Green Wave finished 106th nationally in rushing offense, 105th in total offense, 115th in scoring, 102nd in total defense, and 109th in rushing defense, which goes a long way toward explaining their No. 1 ranking in C-USA against the pass. They were 119th in turnover margin, 106th in sacks, and 119th in tackles for loss. And we have another instance of practice not making perfect: Like Akron, they're terrible at punting, ranked next-to-last in I-A despite having all the time in the world to get good at it.

Encounters in the wild: Hoo, this won't be pretty. A home visit from Ole Miss is scheduled for the late-night ESPN2 slot in Week 2. They travel to Houston in Week 4, and Rutgers the week after. (The reprieve here is a season opener against Southeastern Louisiana, which even our SOS-loving selves cannot begrudge them.)

Stock characters: An offensive line returning four starters will attempt to wall off Ryan Griffin, last year's stopgap quarterback and this year's sophomore starter. In the secondary, much will hinge upon the success of Shakiel Smith switching up from linebacker to safety this season. This leaves one returning starter on an already-terrible front seven, but one could argue that new blood couldn't do worse than last year's old. Additions to our growing All-Name mid-majors roster include defensive lineman Oscar Ponce de Leon, and senior wide receiver Casey Robottom, whose name contains the word "robot."

Prognosis: We are overly fond of Louisiana in general, and therefore badly want Tulane to succeed. But if this team can sink further, it will. Two of the top three teams in C-USA East are on their schedule, and they must travel to Houston, and Southern Methodist is getting quietly good at football. (And you can't always count on UTEP to screw up.) One game on this schedule looks winnable, perhaps two.

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Previous Absurdly Premature Assessments (alphabetically by team): Akron ... Arkansas ... Arkansas State ... Army ... Ball State ... Boston College ... Central Michigan ... Clemson ... Colorado State ... Connecticut ... East Carolina ... Florida Atlantic ... Florida State ... Fresno State ... Georgia ... Hawaii ... Houston ... Iowa ... Kansas State ... Kentucky ... Louisiana Tech ... LSU ... Marshall ... MemphisMiddle Tennessee State ... MissouriNevada ... North Texas ... Oregon State ... PittsburghSan Diego State ... Stanford ... UAB ... UCLA ... UTEP.

Matt Hinton is on vacation this week. Holly welcomes your adulation and veiled threats at nastinchka-at-yahoo, etc.

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