Preview: Tulsa at Tulane (Pass vs. Run)
by Denis Brown
October 29, 2007
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane (5-3, 3-2) play a must win game this week against what, on paper, looks to be a lesser opponent in the Tulane Green Wave (2-6, 1-3). Tulsa will host Conference USA west division leader Houston (5-3, 4-1) next week. If the Golden Hurricane can win out-this season, they will have a chance to play in the conference title game.
The stat that jumps out when looking at Tulsa is, despite having a winning record, it has given up more points then they have scored. However, Tulsa has gained about 50 more yards per game then their opponents.
Tulsa has a better red zone touchdown percentage, less penalty yards, and better third down percentage then their opponents. However, the number that tells the story is 21 turnovers in only eight games. Tulsa starting quarterback Paul Smith has thrown 24 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Despite Smith’s average of 358 yards per game, he has also stalled some drives with his decision-making mistakes.
Tulane has established a strong running game and will look to control the clock. Tulane will look to sophomore running back Matt Forte to anchor its rushing attack. Forte has dominated this season, running for 1,539 yards with 15 touchdowns. His average of 192 yards per game ranks him first in the nation and places him 35 yards per game ahead of the second place rusher.
The Green Wave allow more yards than they gain. The best defense for Tulane will be to establish long drives that feature Forte and will keep Tulsa’s offense off the field. Furthermore, if Tulsa is not allowed to get into a rhythm on offense, Tulane can perhaps create some opportunities to create some turnovers.
Forte’s role becomes increasingly important because Tulane has also had trouble creating a consistent passing game. Three different quarterbacks have combined to throw nine interceptions and just six touchdown passes. As a team, Tulsa has completed less than 50% of its passes. That ineffective passing attack has hampered Tulane in tight situations at the end of games with the Green Wave getting outscored 71-38 in the fourth quarter.
Tulane should be able to offset its passing woes by establishing the run agaisnt a Tulsa defense that surrenders 201 rushing yards per game. But the Green Wave will also have to limit the vaunted Tulsa passing attack, and correct the fourth quarter mistakes that have haunted them this season.
Denis Brown is an independent contributor to College Football Poll.com.