Sept. 12, 2007
NEW ORLEANS, La. - There is an old saying about the weather in The Crescent City - if you don't like the weather in New Orleans, just wait five minutes because it will change.
New Tulane head football coach Bob Toledo learned that lesson the hard way as a handful of his practices have been interrupted due to inclement weather. A quick learner, he did not leave Mother Nature an opportunity to cut short another day on the field as the Green Wave went through a two-hour session in the Louisiana Superdome Wednesday afternoon.
And while the Tulane team was not in its usual surroundings of the Westfeldt Practice Facility, the goal of the practice remained the same - find a way to get better and prepare for Saturday's Conference USA opener against Houston.
One of the primary focuses of Wednesday's practice was finding ways to better utilize the talents of senior running back Matt Forté. In Saturday's game against Mississippi State, Forté ran for 47 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and hauled in a team-leading six passes for another 49 yards.
"There's no question we want to get him more touches," Toledo said of his star running back. "We tried to throw him the ball and do some things, but we only had 46 snaps. We just didn't have the ball enough to utilize him and to utilize the game plan the second half."
The Green Wave got a bit of good news on Wednesday as well, as junior quarterback Scott Elliott practiced for the second consecutive day after suffering a sprained right foot. He was held out of practice on Monday and was limited in Tuesday's abbreviated session.
In the season opener against the Bulldogs, Elliott completed 15-of-26 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown. Should Elliott not be able to go against the Cougars on Saturday, Toledo said that sophomore Anthony Scelfo would likely get the bulk of work under center.
"This is what we've been concerned about - if something happens to Elliott. We want to get these guys some game experience. We tried to get Scelfo some, but I think he only got three snaps because we didn't have the ball (in the second half). But we'd like to get both of them some opportunity to play if Elliott can't play."
Houston (0-1) is coming off a bye week and dropped their season opener at Oregon, 48-23. While the Cougars employ a four- and five-wide receiver scheme that stretches opposing defenses to the limit, they have a pair of new starters under center with the graduation of four-year starter Kevin Kolb, who was drafted in the second round by the Philadelphia Eagles.
The combination of Blake Joseph and Case Keenum tallied a cumulative 230 yards through the air against the Ducks. Joseph got the start in that game, going 8-for-12 for 51 yards and an interception, while Keenum went 14-for-27 for 179 yards, one touchdown and a pick. They are currently both listed as possible starters for Saturday's game in the Louisiana Superdome.
"I don't know if it's a good time to catch them because they have had a bye and they're preparing for us," Toledo said. "They got a chance to rest up, but they've got two new quarterbacks and they both played in the game. Obviously, their quarterback last year was a great one, but I think these guys are great players - but they're young and inexperienced.
"And the thing, again, that gets you is (running back Anthony) Alridge and their receivers. They've got a couple receivers that can flat out go with it. They can take it to the house. They're going to be difficult to stop and we're going to try and slow them down and try and keep the ball away from them. We have to do a better job of not letting them have the ball."
Saturday's game vs. Houston game is the second of four consecutive home games for Tulane to open the 2007 season as the Green Wave will also play host to Southeastern Louisiana on Sept. 22 and arch-rival LSU on Sept. 29. Season and single-game tickets for the 2007 season remain on sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. Tickets can be purchased in person, over the telephone at (504) 861-WAVE or via the internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.
SCHEDULE NOTE: Tulane's game at SMU on Oct. 20 has been moved to 7 p.m. and will be televised live on Fox Sports Net Southwest. The game was originally slated to kickoff at 2 p.m. The Green Wave/Mustang game is now one of six Tulane games to be televised in 2007. Last week's contest was carried by Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast, the LSU game on Sept. 29 will air live on ESPN, Tulane's road contest at Army will be carried by the ESPN Network, the Tulsa game will air nationally on College Sports Television, and the season finale at East Carolina will be picked up by the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.