Tulane plays No. 24 Houston
Coming off loss to conference rival Marshall, Tulane looks to get back on track when it takes on No. 17 Houston at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the Superdome. This is the Green Wave’s second game to be broadcast live on CBS College Sports and its fourth game on national television this season.
Tulane head coach Bob Toldeo knows that this week's opponent looks ready for the national spotlight.
“They’re 4-1 and they’re leading the Big 12 South right now,” Toledo said jokingly in reference to some of the teams from the Big 12 that Houston has beaten this year. “They beat Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and they also beat Mississippi State last week…they are a talented group."
Houston prevents challenges to the Green Wave that no other team in the conference does.
"They are the best talent in our conference I believe," said Toledo. "They’re averaging 40 points plus a game and averaging 570 yards a game. Hopefully we can slow them down. They have a great quarterback who was Player of the Year last year in Case Keenum. They’ve got an excellent running back who was Freshman of the Year last year in Bryce Beall. They have a group of wide receivers, a super group of wide receivers that catch the ball and make what we call ‘RAC’ yards – Run After Catch. They’re quick passing game, their short-passes is like a running game. They get it to them quick and let them run."
Tulane has struggled to find consistency on offense this season and will have to be physical to deal with the speed of the Cougars on defense.
"They have great speed and quickness," noted Toledo on Houston's defense. "They have two of the top three tacklers in the conference. Both of them are inside linebackers Marcus McGraw and C.J. Cavness. And if you look at the stats from the Conference they lead in almost all statistical categories. They are really a talented football team. They won their bowl game last year and are off to a great start again.”
It may appear to be a matchup of strength-vs-strength when Houston attacks Tulane through the air. The game will put Houston’s conference leading pass offense (443.6 yards per game) against Tulane’s conference leading pass defense (210.6 yards per game). Numbers can be deceiving.
"But I look at pass efficiency, and we’re at about the middle of the conference," explained Toledo. " So, we need to be better in pass-efficiency…We just have to get better. We have to get more pressure. We have to defend better. We have to take away their players. Sometimes we’re getting mismatched, and that’s probably the reason.”
The Green Wave defense hopes to pressure Keenum by throwing a mix of different coverage and blitz packages at him.
“We have to get more pressure on the quarterback,” Toledo said. “We’re not getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback. There’s a way to do that and then you hang your other guys out to dry a little bit too and then the other thing you can do is not rush as many people and drop more off and you can maximum defend it…so we’re going to have to try and get a happy medium."
Although Toledo admits losing is frustrating, he believes the 2-3 Green Wave has a bright future. “You have to go through growing pains, and that’s what is tough for me at this point,” Toledo said.
But the third-year Green Wave head coach wants to make it clear that his staff and team are not going to sit back and allow another bad season to unfold.
“I hate losing…I don’t like losing the way we lose sometimes, but I really believe we’re heading in the right direction," stated Toledo. "We just have to keep fighting and keep battling. As I told our team yesterday this thing is not over. We’re not giving up.”
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