Alright, this is Tulane week, and we once again get to talk about generational differences among LSU fans. The rivalry with Tulane means little to me other than it generates a little bit of nostalgia. I remember when the Tulane rivalry was considered a real thing, even though even when I was a child LSU had dominated the rivalry for a generation. Between 1949 and 1979, Tulane had beaten LSU exactly once. For some strange reason, between 1979 and 1982, Tulane beat LSU 3 times, but has not beaten us since in 17 tries. Even Curley Hallman's teams beat Tulane every year, though the games were unusually close those years.
Those of a generation older than me.. Well, they still don't remember Tulane actually being competitive in this rivalry, but they remember when Tulane's competitiveness was only a few years removed. Really 1948 represents the last year of Tulane's overall competitiveness with LSU. That year, they beat us. It was the 5th time they'd beaten us in 15 games. They would not beat us again until 1973.
And now the rivalry is coming to another end. It's hardly surprising or even lamentable, at least to me. The deal with Tulane to play some of these games in the Superdome has been a drain on the athletic department's budget and has ultimately served very little useful purpose. The rivalry just isn't what it was, and now we look at Tulane as an unusually storied Rent-A-Win.
Which brings us to 2009.
We get a Halloween Night matchup at home against a Tulane team that is 2-5, with wins against McNeese State and Army. Their losses were to Tulsa, BYU, Marshall, Houston, and Southern Miss. This year you can certainly forgive losses to Tulsa, BYU and Houston, but losing to Marshall and Southern Miss by a combined score of 74-16 means you are a bad team. OK, that may not be exactly fair. Southern Miss is 5-3 overall, but they lost to Louisville and UAB. Marshall is also 5-3, with no bad losses, but still, Tulane is not a good team.
Even so, bad teams usually have a few good players, and that's where we begin our analysis. Wide receiver Jeremy Williams is a very good player who will get a shot at the NFL. He's a big senior receiver who has caught over 150 passes in his career, including 44 so far this year. They try to get him the ball a lot of different ways, using him in the running game a few times per game in addition to his receiving duties.
As for who is going to get the ball to him, that is an open question. Sophomore Joe Kemp (who despite my rampant imagination, actually appears to not be related to the late Vice Presidential candidate Jack Kemp) opened the season as the starter, but despite his 65% completion percentage, he has been benched in favor of freshman Ryan Griffin, who had a mixed outing in his first start, going 21 of 33 but averaging only 4.8 yards per attempt (compared to 8.4 yards per attempt for Kemp) and throwing 1 interception with no touchdowns in a blowout loss to Southern Miss.
We're going to see an awful lot of running back Andre Anderson, who get the ball about 20 times per game, either running the ball or on the receiving end of passes. Over Tulane's last 3 games (all losses), he is averaging over 5 yards per carry and nearly 100 yards per game.
I don't think this is going to be like in 2007, when Tulane's Matt Forte was probably the best running back we saw all season. I don't think Jeremy Williams is going to be better than A.J. Green, but he's a solid player who would be a productive member of our team if he was on the other sideline.
Defensively? Well, let's just say that the only team that scored less than 31 points on Tulane was Army, and they run the ball constantly. They gave up oodles of passing yards to Houston (but so does everyone I suppose) and truck loads of rushing yards to Southern Miss. They actually outgained Marshall despite losing 31-10. Brigham Young outclassed them in every way. Tulsa averaged almost 11 yards per pass attempt against them. So yeah, they have a porous defense.
Really, what I want in this game is for the offense to come out smoking, and put the game away before halftime. Let the backups play the last 1 1/2 quarters of the game. Other than that, I want us to come out of this one without injuries. I don't care about style points, as long as it's a convincing win and we don't have to wear down our starters to get it.
We will have to be mindful of the fact that a lot of these Tulane players are Louisiana guys who probably would have liked to play for LSU. They will play with a lot of determination and could make this one competitive for a while. There's no need to get upset if we aren't up 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, and there's no need to embarrass them at the end by running it up. Let's just get through this one safely, both on the scoreboard and in the training room.