Frank's for the Memories

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Q&A with Frank McGrath from Frank Helps You Think it All Out

Frank: I am very glad to be invited back to “The Unbalanced Line”. But I admit I am irked at Army. Why are they letting this game come to an end?

This series started in 1953- a scoreless tie. Perhaps not surprisingly, Tulane and Army have played fourteen times since 1996 and each team has won seven times. Admittedly, that is a big schedule presence. Perhaps USMA has grown tired of its occasional guest from New Orleans.

Due to an alumni concentration in NY, Tulane seemed eager to maintain the “local” game- replacing Army on future schedules with both Rutgers and Syracuse.  The Green Wave out of conference schedule has been fun recently. This year Tulane has Duke, Army, Syracuse- last year Ole Miss, Rutgers, Army- in 2009 Tulane had BYU, LSU, Army.

Still, dropped for more Kent State? San Diego State? Temple? Northern Illinois? Stony Brook??  I just don’t get it.

Chris: Looking at Tulane I see a fairly complete team, a balanced offense and a head coach in his 5th year with the program Digging a little deeper, Tulane has struggled this year on critical downs by my count going 15/45 on 3rd down so far. Is this team just a couple of key plays away from glory, or are there other problems holding Tulane football back?

Frank: No, Tulane is a long way from even decent.

The Green Wave is not horrible. They are a threat to, like last year, win four games. Like a lot of bad teams, they have a few no-hope games on the schedule- which means they are something like .500ish in their class (the bottom 40 teams in the country). So against their fellow under-resourced brethren, they hold their own. But outside of Rice, UAB, Memphis, etc., the situation is problematic.

Chris: There is so much speculation swirling about conference re-alignment: Conference USA / Mountain West mergers, open slots in the Big East; have you got any hopes or fears concerning Tulane's conference setup?

Frank: Fears? Not really. C-USA is code for “busted football programs that can’t get in anywhere good”- and there is no real threat that designation will be eliminated

I really like the idea of some sort of giant non-BCS collective. Gather 35-40 non-BCS schools, under a unified banner, produce a single football champion- and there is a sane route for an automatic bid to the current BCS or future eight team play-off.

To get out from addressing anti-trust concerns, revenue sharing, scheduling, etc., I think the BCS schools would like a way to get one non-BCS school in the post-season mix. They just need a methodology- and the champion of an organized confederation for non-BCS football gets everyone there. A good start is a football only merger of sorts with C-USA, Mountain West, Big 12 and Big East remnants.

Chris: Army's defense remains the team's biggest question mark, who's play should Army be more worried about, Ryan Griffin or Orleans Darkwa?

Frank: Both are solid college players. For Saturday, I would lean toward QB Ryan Griffin. Tulane doesn’t have any interior defensive line presence and the outside LBs are a disaster. So, just like last year, the Green Wave defense doesn’t really have any chance to keep Army under control.

Tulane has got to score four-five touchdowns just to be in it. You can’t normally score 35 points off a good rushing day. So Tulane is going to give their good quarterback every chance to have a big day against Army’s up-and-down defensive secondary.

Chris: Aside from the play of Griffin or Darkwa, what unexpected things might Army fans expect from Tulane?

Frank: I think Tulane will be very, very aggressive on defense. Again, I can’t believe they have any confidence in keeping Army under 30 playing “straight up”.  So they’ll blitz and overload and stunt, bring the safeties down. Play with just two true DBs, get a fifth DL or LB on the field. Who cares if they get burned for a few big plays if they can produce lucky stops and a couple of turnovers?

Chris: Any thoughts on a score prediction for the Army/Tulane game?

Frank: The line is Army -6 over Tulane, which seems fair. But both teams are so up and down. The good Tulane that crushed UAB would beat the Army team from week one. The good Army would destroy the Wave from this week at Duke.  I throw up my hands.

Each of these outcomes has a one-in-three chance: Tulane wins narrowly outright, Army wins by one score, Army wins by more than one score.  Army wins the game two-in-three. But, you probably cover the six in two of those same three scenarios. So if forced, I take Tulane and the points.

Chris: I don’t know if the Tulane/Army relationship soured or if there are other reasons behind the break in scheduling; my feelings are the same as Frank’s on the issue of Tulane/Army: Ithink it is a valuable rivalry for both programs and to see the rivalry endwith such a competitive history is disappointing.
I think what happened was just that Coach  Ellerson is familiar with California due in no small part to his prior stint at Cal-Poly and it’s clear California is where Ellerson wants to focus more recruiting energy. I don’t know why that has to cut into the Army/Tulane thing, but I think that instead of de-emphasizing a clear rivalry, taking a step away from scheduling MAC teams would be a better move for Army.

If this exercise doesn’t inspire these two teams to revive the rivalry, maybe, just maybe, it can convince Frank to return to the Tulane blogging beat.

Thanks again, Frank for taking part, enjoy the game and enjoy the rivalry. 



Anonymous said...

This game is all about Ryan Griffin- as is just about every Tulane game where the Green Wave needs to score and score. But I favor Army a lot here. The Wave is just going to be under a lot of pressure Saturday: defense can't stop a good scheme, offense trying to keep up, routine special teams disaster. Army is going to squeeze them like a grape. The Cadets win 38-24, and it won't be as close as the scoreboard indicates.

This yogwf thing is a hilarious- for other Tulane guests.


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