Tulane’s Johnson ready to do some spring cleaning
For him, Ash Wednesday can’t come soon enough.
That’s when Tulane football coach Curtis Johnson kicks off his fourth spring practice with the Green Wave. And, coming off a three-win season, the areas of concern are many and most are coming from the offensive side of the ball.
In 2014, Tulane’s putrid offense finished 107th nationally in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
In the last three games, Tulane scored a total of 16 points. In four games, the Green Wave scored six points or fewer.
Yet, Johnson stuck with offensive coordinator Eric Price and the pro-style offense.
Late in the season, Johnson struck an optimistic tone.
“The offense is exactly on track where we want it go,” Johnson told reporters.
Johnson is counting on the maturation of quarterback Tanner Lee and a cast of young receivers.
Improvement must come quickly. Tulane opens the 2015 season at Yulman Stadium Sept. 3 against Duke.
Nine days later, the Green Wave visit Orange Bowl champion Georgia Tech at Grant Field in Atlanta.
Defensively, the Wave must replace two stars in its secondary. Leading tackler safety Sam Scofield was a senior. Cornerback Lorenzo Doss declared for the NFL draft.
And, the Wave must again try to solve its kicking issues. Two kickers were signed in the class of 2015. That class was ranked 104th in the nation by rivals.com.
My take? There were several local standouts not recruited by LSU that would have been big contributors at Tulane. Running back Kendall Bussey of Newman committed to the Green Wave but eventually signed with Texas A&M. His teammate, quarterback Jay Tyler, was signed by Stanford as a slot receiver/kick returner. Hahnville wide receiver Brandon Singleton and defensive tackle Fred Brown never got serious interest from the Green Wave. Singleton committed to Georgia Tech early, but signed with the University of California. Brown signed with Purdue University.
And, St. Aug wide receiver Stanley Morgan, whom Tulane did recruit, signed with the University of Nebraska. The Green Wave also missed on Jesuit tight end Foster Moreau. Moreau thanked Tulane for holding an offer for him to the final day but signed with LSU.
Players as talented as the above are among the ones that Johnson must sign to be successful long term. As we know, long-term success for Tulane football is an elusive proposition.
If you throw out the two seasons of Tommy Bowden as an outlier, here’s the record of four recent Tulane football coaches after three seasons: Curtis Johnson 12-25; Bob Toledo 9-27; Chris Scelfo 11-22; Buddy Teevens 7-27.
In other words, not good.
Tulane fans were hoping that the departure of former president Scott Cowen would trigger an olive-and-blue football rebirth. Cowen was the ultimate college football Disneyland Dad. He painted himself green and looked the part. But when it came to real change to benefit athletics, he came up empty.
New president Michael Fitts is allegedly an athletics novice. Maybe he needs to get more involved. A good place to start would be asking the following questions: Why can’t we win consistently? And, when we lose, why do we always change coaches, but still come up with the same results?