Nov. 8, 2007
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Fourteen Green Wave seniors will play the final home game of their respective careers when the Tulane University football team plays host to Conference USA foe UTEP on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 6 p.m. in the Louisiana Superdome.
Tulane enters the ballgame 2-7 on the year and 1-4 in C-USA play. UTEP, meanwhile, comes to town 4-5 overall and 2-3 in league action. While Tulane is no longer in contention for a league title or a bowl game, the Green Wave still have one very important thing to play for - pride.
"I think that's the big thing right now - pride and self respect," Tulane head coach Bob Toledo said. "That's something you can always have and they can't take that away from you. We're out of a bowl game and we're out of playing for a championship, but we can play for pride - both individually and as a team - and you can play for self respect. You want people to respect how hard you play and what kind of effort you give. Those are the things we're trying to do."
The game will be broadcast on the Tulane ISP Sports Network (local station, WIST AM 690) and both live audio and video are available via the internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com to registered members of the All-Access Pass. Live stats are also available free of charge on the official website of Tulane Athletics.
As a team, the Green Wave are averaging 386.1 yards of total offense per game (203.2 rushing, 182.9 passing). Senior running back Matt Forté leads the team with 1,642 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 259 carries while ranking second on the team with 26 receptions for an additional 200 yards through the air.
Sophomore quarterback Anthony Scelfo will start his seventh consecutive game under center Saturday against the Miners, but Toledo hopes to give redshirt-freshman Kevin Moore some time as well. Scelfo has thrown for 1,033 yards and five touchdowns on 87-of-162 passing so far in 2007 and has run for an additional 108 yards and a score on 50 carries. Moore, meanwhile, has completed 11-of-24 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown in limited action.
Defensively, Tulane has allowed an average of 423.8 yards per game (138.3 rushing, 285.4 passing). Junior linebacker Evan Lee and senior strong safety Joe Goosby pace the Green Wave with 83 and 64 tackles, respectively. Senior defensive lineman Antonio Harris leads the club with five sacks among six tackles for loss while defensive ends Reggie Scott and Adam Kwentua have four sacks each.
Junior free safety David Skehan headlines the Tulane secondary with three interceptions and three fumble recoveries to go along with 50 tackles, four pass break-ups and a forced fumble. Avery Williams leads the team with nine and a half tackles for loss and junior cornerback Josh Lumar paces the club with five pass break-ups.
"Our work is going to be cut out for us," Toledo said of Saturday's UTEP game. "I think the big thing is they're going to try and take away our running game, and when we run we have to be efficient running the football. We have to complete some passes and make them pay for packing the paint, so to speak."
UTEP, meanwhile, enters the weekend averaging 436.4 yards of total offense per game (168.4 rushing, 268.0 passing). Marcus Thomas is one of three players with at least 100 yards rushing and paces the Miners with 937 yards and 13 touchdowns on 185 carries. Lorne Sam and Terrell Jackson have 327 and 148 yards rushing, respectively.
Trevor Vittatoe, a redshirt-freshman, leads the UTEP aerial attack, throwing for 2,211 yards with 21 touchdowns and just three interceptions on 157-of-285 passing. Jeff Moturi leads UTEP with 45 catches for 694 yards and 11 touchdowns, and Sam is close behind with 38 grabs for 537 yards and a score.
Defensively, UTEP is giving up an average of 502.7 yards of total offense per game (183.4 rushing, 319.2 passing). Defensive back Braxton Amy leads the squad with 84 tackles, including a sack among two and a half tackles for loss, seven pass break-ups, and two interceptions. Linebacker Jeremy Jones and defensive back Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith follow with 69 and 63 tackles, respectively, while Jones and Anthony Morrow pace the Miners with two sacks each.
The Miners have intercepted 16 passes over their first nine games of the year - including four each by Quintin Demps and Cornelius Brown - broken up another 37 passes and forced seven fumbles.
"UTEP is a good football team," Toledo said. "They're really good on offense. They're one of the top teams in our conference. They've got an excellent redshirt-freshman in Trevor Vittatoe. He's thrown 21 touchdown passes as a redshirt-freshman. They've also got a running back, Marcus Thomas, who is really doing a good job and is one of the best running backs in our conference."
This weekend's game marks just the third meeting between the two schools and UTEP won the previous two meetings by a combined score of 79-41. The Miners claimed the first-ever meeting between the two schools, 45-21, on Oct. 14, 2005, in a Tulane "home" game played in Ruston, La., and UTEP earned a 34-20 decision last season at the Sun Bowl. Saturday's ballgame will be the first time Tulane and UTEP will face each other in the Louisiana Superdome.
Tickets for Tulane's home finale are 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. Prior to kickoff, there will be a special ceremony to honor Tulane's 14-member senior class.
Following Saturday's game against the Miners, the Green Wave return to action on Nov 17 with a 2 p.m. showdown against Rice in Houston before closing out the season on Nov. 24 at East Carolina.