Aug. 9, 2006
NEW ORLEANS, La. - In the final chapter of a three-part series, TulaneGreenWave.com takes a closer look at Tulane's special teams and the 2006 schedule. Links to both the offensive and defensive outlooks are at the bottom of the page.
Beckman, who missed the final two games of the 2005 season after suffering a gunshot wound in a hunting accident, is fully recovered and brings a career 42.4 yard-per-punt average to the field-position battle. Smith and Route have game-changing ability with their return prowess, and Gelhardt will once again provide a solid centerpiece along the offensive line on special teams plays.
One of the biggest battles of the preseason will come at the kicker's position where Pepper and true freshman Ross Thevenot are expected to compete for placekicking duties. Pepper has served as the team's kickoff specialist over the last three years, and came to Tulane with a solid pedigree after earning first-team all-state honors in 2002 while at Bastrop (La.) High.
Thevenot, meanwhile, lettered three years as a punter and placekicker at St. Louis Catholic High in Lake Charles, La., where he earned first-team all-state honors in his final two prep seasons and first-team all-district and all-Southwest Louisiana honors all three seasons. As a prepster, Thevenot connected on 20-of-30 field goal attempts, while averaging 41.7 yards per punt and posting 27 touchbacks in 29 kickoffs as a senior.
"I feel very good our kicking game with Chris Beckman coming back healthy, and Craig Gelhardt doing the snapping," Scelfo said. "I think we've got an outstanding combination there. We've got to be a lot more consistent on our kickoffs and field goals. I think that's going to be critical for us this year. Barrett Pepper is back, and we also signed Ross Thevenot to come in and compete for this job."
The Green Wave will face one of the most daunting schedules of the Scelfo era in 2006, including three road games against teams from the Southeastern Conference (Mississippi State on Sept. 16, LSU on Sept. 23 and Auburn on Oct. 21).
Tulane also has the tough task of playing its first three games on the road before playing its first game in the Louisiana Superdome in almost two years on Sept. 30 in a nationally-televised contest against C-USA foe SMU. The team will also play 12 games in as many weeks after enjoying an open during the season's opening weekend.
Following a three-game road slate at Houston, Mississippi State and LSU, and the SMU contest, Tulane will play its second straight game in the 'Dome on Oct. 7 against Rice before embarking on two-game road swing against UTEP (Oct. 14) and Auburn. From there, Tulane will celebrate "Homecoming 2006" against Army on Oct. 28, before closing out the regular season with five straight C-USA ballgames.
Tulane will travel to Marshall on Nov. 4, host Southern Miss and UCF on Nov. 11 and 18, respectively, and close out the season on Nov. 24 at Tulsa.
The Conference USA Championship game is slated for Dec. 2 at the home of the league team with the best regular season record, and the winner of that ballgame will receive the conference's berth in the 2006 AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn.
"We start with three games on the road against three really good opponents, and we're playing 12 straight weekends," Scelfo said. "It's going to be an exciting year, a year we're going to have to bear down and condition for mentally, physically, and emotionally. There are going to be some highs and lows. As long as minimize the lows and capitalize on the highs, we have a chance to be a good football team."