A day before the Miners and Tulane take the field, MinerDigs.net sat down with TheWaveReport.com to break down the Oct. 11 game at the Sun Bowl.
We spoke with TheWaveReport.com editor Scott Kushner and asked him a few questions in regards to the Tulane vs. UTEP match up in El Paso, Texas.
Here is the transcript of the conversation.
Carlos M. Silva Jr: Head coach Mike Price stated at his Monday press conference that Tulane has had some close games this season. The Green Wave began their season on the road against Alabama, followed by four-straight home games against East Carolina, La. Monroe, SMU and Army. At 2-3, what is your opinion of how the team has played?
Scott Kushner: Up until the last six quarters this was the best team Tulane had fielded since 2002 (which won the Hawaii Bowl). They dominated Alabama statistically, and had East Carolina on the ropes with five minutes to play, but special teams blunders cost them a pair of signature wins. Then the Wave dominated an inferior SMU team 31-7 in the first half.
Since then, it has not been the same. The Mustangs nearly came back to win, and lowly Army simply trounced Tulane last week. The sudden turn makes it very difficult to assess where this team stands. If the one from the first 10 quarters shows up, Tulane should make a bowl. If the group from the last six quarters remains, this is a three to four win club.
CMS: Currently the Tulane has the No. 1 defense in the conference, what has been the backbone to that?
SK: Solid pressure from the defensive front. Ends [db]Adam Kwentua, Reggie Scott and Logan Kelley have harassed quarterbacks all season and until last week the Wave led the nation in sacks thanks to that effort. The strength was undermined last week thanks to Army's triple-option attack, so it will be interesting to see if they get back to their pass-rushing ways in El Paso.
CMS: How do you feel the team does in road games, and will the loss to Army be lingering in the team's mind?
SK: The Army loss has to still be on their mind. It was in front of a festive crowd for Homecoming, and was in front of large expectations. It may motivate them or it may hamper them, but it is certainly a factor. The Wave have been at home for four straight games, so it's possible that the move to the road could throw them off a bit. Tulane's only other road game was against Alabama, which was arguably its best performance of the season despite a 20-6 loss.
CMS: Can you break down the strengths of Tulane?
SK: The pressure created by the defensive front, which I addressed a few questions ago is certainly one. Offensively, the play of running back Andre Anderson is crucial to this team's success.
Bob Toledo has had a 1,000-yard rusher everywhere he's been and he intends to give Anderson all the chances he can get. Anderson took 33, 35 and 38 carries in the team's last three games prior to the Army loss. Tulane will try to run between the tackles and if they aren't successful, it's going to be a long game.
CMS: What are the weaknesses the Green Wave have shown up to this point?
SK: It hasn't shown up yet, but the Wave's receiving corps is going to be thin and weak without No. 1 Jeremy Williams who went out against Army with an injury. Williams was Tulane's only legit playmaker so it will be a serious obstacle for Tulane to pick up chunks of yards without him. That turns any deficit into a serious problem.
CMS: Considering the Green Wave have road games against LSU and Tulsa, how crucial is it that the team garners a win this week, could this be the game that determines whether the Green Wave have a winning record at the end of the season?
SK: It's going to be huge. A successful season for Tulane is a bowl game, plain and simple. The loss to Army made that goal much harder to attain. Now there are about four winnable games (everything excluding Tulane and LSU) that have turned into must-wins. This game was already one Tulane needed, but it is even more crucial under the current scenario. It will be interesting to see how hard the Wave come out in this one. Should be entertaining.
Carlos M. Silva Jr. is the publisher for MinerDigs.net. He can be reached by clicking here.