Saturday, August 8, 2009
When Your Punter and Place Kicker Have Nothing to Do
During Tommy Bowden's second season at Tulane, the Green Wave's offensive effectiveness improved so dramatically under offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez that Tulane's placekickers rarely had anything to do.
Tulane's 1998 spread option offense, which was operated by quarterback Shaun King, combined with the helpful services of speedy tailbacks Toney Converse and Jamaican Dartez, plus slot "machine" receivers Jajuan Dawson, Kerwin Cook and PJ Franklin, became so successful in the red zone, that the scoring statistics of senior Green Wave place kicker Brad Palazzo took a serious nose dive. Palazzo was called upon to kick far more PATs (73 of them!) than field goals (only 9 all year). This was a major step change from the previous 1997 season when Tulane finished 7-4-0.
Still, Palazzo ended up crushing the career field goal record at Tulane that year which had been held previously by former Detroit Lion placekicker and Tulane alum, Eddie Murray (1976-1979).
In 1998 the duties of Tulane's senior punter, Brad Hill, would also be reduced primarily to pooch punting.
And so it was to hell with field goals. Tulane was going to score touchdowns. Lots and lots of touchdowns.
Seventy-three to be precise.
That year Tulane finished 2nd nationally in scoring offense (45.5 points per game). They were ranked 4th nationally in total offense (507 yard per game and over 5,000 total yards) and 13th in the land in passing offense (305 yards per game). In rushing offense, the Green Wave finished 23rd nationally (202 yard per game). Tulane, Kansas State, UCLA and Ohio State were the only four schools in the nation in 1998 to compile 3,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing.
For all of the spectacular read option TD keepers by King, and all of the prolific touchdown runs by Jajuan Dawson, it was Brad Palazzo who led the Green Wave in scoring that year with 100 points.
May Michigan's place kicker Brendan Gibbons and punter Zoltan Mesko find similar respite and notoriety in 2009.