October 14, 2009

Kemp feels pressure beyond the defense

Quarterback Joe Kemp talks about the pressure to score on Houston.

Tight end Cody Sparks on his return to the field and role in the red zone

Joe Kemp can already feel the pressure Houston brings.

It doesn't come from the defensive line or blitzing linebackers. It comes from the scoreboard.

"We put that pressure on ourselves," Kemp said. "We tell ourselves we need to score every drive. If we score every drive we have no chance to lose.

"Because there's no way we can go out and score 14, 17, or 20 points and win this game. We need to go out and hang a lot of points on them."

That task isn't particularly monumental for the Green Wave offense. In its past four games, the No. 23 Cougars have allowed over 36 points per game.

The difficulty isn't in scoring. It's scoring more than them.

A turnover here, a botched third down there, and suddenly instead of a seven point game it's a 21-point game.

Mistakes doomed Tulane last week in its loss to Marshall, and if the Wave hasn't learned its lesson, it could lead to an early rout against the more powerful Cougars.

"That's the thing at quarterback is you can't make that one bad decision," Kemp said. "You can't make that one mistake. It's a thing where I have to keep rolling and I have to keep making plays.

"I can't take any mental plays off. Last week, for example, the play I threw the interception on we had run twice and had two completions on. But I took a mental play off and that's what's going to happen."

The same goes for missed opportunities in the red zone. Twice this season Tulane has been held scoreless even after multiple plays inside the two-yard line.

"We have to get to the goal line and score," tight end Cody Sparks said. "Controlling the ball and running out an entire quarter would be nice...but yards don't count on the scoreboard."

Injury Notes

Travis Burks will be in a cast, the only question is how cumbersome will it be.

The senior linebacker is currently practicing in a bulky cast which restricts his finger movement and coach Bob Toledo is hoping it can be slimmed down to give him some more flexibility, yet still protect the damage in his left thumb.

"In the game we are trying to make it smaller so he can have some hands to make it easier for him to tackle," Toledo said. "We are talking to the trainers about it right now. It appears he will have to have it operated on after the season, but if it gets worse he will have to get it operated on before the season is over."

Freshman linebacker Cody Ledford returned to the practice field on Tuesday for the first time since he tore his MCL in the loss to BYU.

Ledford will practice, but likely not play for the remainder of the season. If he doesn't return, he should be eligible for a medical redshirt which would grant him another season.

Running back rotation

Steve Barnett moved from running back to fullback and finds himself back at running back following a season-ending injury to Payten Jason.

"I moved to fullback and they told me to forget everything about running back. Then I move to running back and they tell me to forget everything about fullback," Barnett said. "I just need to remember everything and it's been a fast paced week of practice with all of the changes."

Barnett will split carries with Albert Williams and J.T. McDonald in relief of Andre Anderson. The position change leaves Barnett a bit behind, but he's catching up to the pack.

"They are all role players right now," Toledo said. "Andre is the guy and the others will see some duty."

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