September 25, 2009

Pressure builds on Kemp, Wave offense

Quarterback Joe Kemp talks about where his offense needs to improve

It's time for Joe Kemp to make a statement so Bob Toledo doesn't have to.

Through two games, the Green Wave offense has stalled, stagnated and stumbled managing just a single touchdown in 120 minutes of football. Its eight points per game ranks 120th (last place) nationally.

Although blame can be spread across the whole offense, most observers have directed their angst at the quarterback and the scrutiny on Kemp cranked up.

Toledo understands the perils of working with a young quarterback against tough opponents, but he's sent a message across the team that no one's job is safe, and that includes the quarterback.

"Well, it's a shorter leash," Toledo said. "As I started the season saying that he didn't have to look over his shoulder - I didn't want him to in the first couple games, but that can't go on the whole year.

"At some point you have to say the leash is getting shorter. I don't know if this is the make or break week for him, but he does need to perform much better this week."

Don't expect it to make much of an impact on Kemp's psyche entering this Saturday's contest against McNeese State at the Superdome.

Entering his third career start, Tulane's quarterback says his approach hasn't changed but his results will.

"There are obviously some things I need to get better at but I definitely still feel as confident as I did before," Kemp said. "It's not just me, it's this whole team that still feels as confident and that is what's important."

Involving the team is issue No. 1 for Kemp, who has come under criticism for holding the ball too long, taking eight sacks and losing 58 yards in the process.

Instead of waiting for things to develop, the athletic signal-caller recognizes the need to take a proactive approach and find people in open space.

"Just get the ball out of my hands and to the guys who make plays as fast as I can," Kemp said. "We have made a couple changes on the offensive line, starting two true freshmen at guard. Maybe that will give us the right mix of guys that can open up some holes for Andre and that will help us too."

Because Kemp's job security isn't riding on completion percentage, passing yardage or big plays. His only requirement is to lead a successful offense.

If points come from an Anderson, Jeremy Williams, or D.J. Banks it all works to Kemp's advantage.

But it has to be an offense that scores more than eight points per game or a touchdown every 120 minutes. And if those numbers don't change, Kemp could be the one taking the fall, even if the blame can be spread across the unit.

"We haven't gotten the ball across the goal line and that's the big thing," Toledo said. "But that's not all on Joe. I don't want to put it all on Joe. But I think the time has come he now has to start performing better."

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