Tulane stays guarded about Navy's chances Bowden says possessions will play pivotal role

September 23, 1998|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

Tommy Bowden, the only coach named Bowden who is undefeated this young season -- he gasps when reminded -- said his Tulane team being favored over Navy by three touchdowns Saturday in New Orleans is a pipe dream.

"We need a lot of 'at-bats' [possessions] on offense," said the second-year coach of the Green Wave (2-0), "and Navy has a way of hanging onto the ball. Limited possessions doesn't help us."

It's hard to imagine what the scores of Tulane games would be if the team had as many chances to run its fast-break offense as Bowden would like. Tulane opened with a 52-34 victory over Cincinnati (it was ahead 52-10 at one point), then beat Southern Methodist, 31-21.

Bowden, son of Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, whose team is 2-1, and brother of Terry, whose Auburn team is 1-2, sounds like a chip off the old block.

"I don't watch our defense much, I'm afraid I'll mess 'em up. I'm involved on the offensive side of the ball, calling the plays and getting the boys ready for the defenses they'll be facing.

"We try to get as many possessions in the game as we can and we try to score as quickly as possible."

Racehorse football, if you will. Sound like Bobby's Florida State juggernaut?

"They do score quickly," said Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie. "Most of the drives leading to their 11 touchdowns have averaged between 2 1/2 and three minutes. That's why we'd like to have 40 minutes of possession, 400 yards of offense and 40 points."

As opposed to Navy's triple-option running game, Bowden refers to his offensive scheme as a "triple-option passing game."

It's triggered by Shaun King, who currently is the highest-rated quarterback in the country, hitting 64 percent of his passes for 630 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.

"He can run, too," Weatherbie said. "I'd say King has more rushing ability than [Kent State's] Jose Davis and is a stronger passer than [Wake Forest's] Brian Kuklick."

Those play-callers gave the Mids fits in their first two games.

King's main targets are P. J. Franklin -- 16 receptions for 276

yards and three scores -- and JaJuan Dawson -- 12 catches for 207 yards and two touchdowns. When the ball isn't in the air, King either takes off with it or hands it to Jamaican Dartez, who rushed for 196 yards against Cincinnati (9.2 average) or Toney Converse (129 yards against SMU).

Prior to Bowden showing up in New Orleans last season, Tulane hadn't had a winning season since 1981.

The Green Wave has followed up a 7-4 mark with a 2-0 start and Bowden said, "It's because of attitude. I think our players just got tired of losing. Our staff was confident we'd be successful doing our thing but we weren't sure if it would take two or three years. The players jumped aboard immediately."

Originally a 6 p.m. game, the contest has been moved up to 3: 30 and will be shown on Home Team Sports.

Pub Date: 9/23/98

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