From the Sidelines

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2000

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / August 19, 2000

You know that feeling you get when you are in the middle of a great dream and the alarm clock goes off. That is how the Tulane football must havefelt last season.

The Green Wave knew that they would have to wake up some time from the dream of a 12-0 season in 1998, one that included the Conference USA championship and a victory in the Liberty Bowl. It’s just that they wouldhave liked for it to last a bit longer. But injuries and inexperienceprevented them from being able to hit the snooze button and rolling over and going back to sleep.

The jolt came quickly as Tulane lost 48-14 at Southern Mississippi. TheGreen Wave was able to bounce back with convincing victories against SMU and Army before Syracuse delivered another wakeup call with a 47-17 win. After a loss to Ole Miss, the Green Wave defeated Louisiana-Lafayette to even its record at 3-3.

That’s when the bottom fell out. Decimated by injuries that would seeplayers miss a total of 20 games of playing time, the Green Wave dropped its final five games to East Carolina, Memphis, Houston, Navy and UAB, giving up an average of 41 points over that time. The schedule did not helpas three of the last four opponents were ranked in the Top 25.

Turnovers were a killer. From leading the conference in turnover margin in1998 with a plus 15, the Green Wave fell to last with a minus 10 margin.

The Green Wave turned the ball over 35 times in 1999, compared to 11 in 1998.

Now as the 2000 season prepares to get under way, the only turnover the Green Wave want is in its record. Helping that cause is the return of juniorquarterback Patrick Ramsey who set marks with 310 completions in 513 attempts for 3,410 yards in 1999. But he will have a battle on his handsfor the starting role with transfer J.P. Losman.With the loss of last year’s leading rusher, Tony Converse, the running game will be a problem although the Green Wave did pick up heralded recruit Jeff Kirven in recent weeks. The receiving corps must also replaceits leader, JaJuan Dawson, with Adrian Burnette, Terrell Harris and freshman Roydell Williams appearing to be the main threats.

The defense was especially rocked by injuries. With 11 starters back andanother year of experience, the defense should be able to improve on its 450.1 yards against average that was the worst in the conference.The Green Wave face another daunting schedule in 2000. A trip tonationally-ranked Ole Miss opens the season followed by a trip to East Carolina, one of the favorites in C-USA. The Green Wave also have homegames against conference favorite and nationally-ranked Southern Miss, Houston and Memphis.

Scelfo believes if the team can get through the first half of the season, it should be in good shape.

“Obviously early in the season we have a tough road and mountains to climb,” Scelfo said at the team’s annual Media Day at St. Paul’s School inCovington Monday afternoon. “I think the guys understand what is in storefor them. We have a chance if we stay healthy and come together anddevelop some leadership on our team. I think we have a chance to becompetitive. We’ll have a good feel where we are after the first threeweeks.”

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