Yesterday, it was announced that Tulane offensive coordinator Chip Long would be joining Georgia Tech as its new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
I already shared my thoughts on the hire (and you can check that out here), but I also wanted to get thoughts from the team he was most recently coaching for, so I reached out to Fear the Wave on Twitter to get their thoughts.
Ben: When the news was announced that Chip Long was being hired at Tulane, what were your initial reactions and expectations?
FTW: There was a lot of optimism. After two decades of stagnancy, Tulane had just experienced an offensive resurgence under (now Southern Miss Head Coach) Will Hall posting top 40 offenses in SP+ in 2019 and 2020 on the way to bowl games. The offense was fun, and it utilized everything from spread concepts to the flex bone while producing some of the best offensive performances for Tulane in Green Wave history.
Chip Long seemed like a perfect match. For one, he was Hall’s roommate in college and a friend. His pedigree includes strong offenses at Notre Dame and Memphis. I think the feeling around the program, especially with second year QB Michael Pratt, was that Tulane was poised to keep ascending. It certainly felt that way into week one when Pratt outplayed Spencer Rattler at Oklahoma but then… reality set in.
Ben: I was looking at the year-to-year stats for Tulane, and I see that there is a pretty big drop-off in terms of offensive production from 2020 to 2021, but the quarterback—Michael Pratt—had a similar line. So where did the drop-off come from?
FTW: Midway through the year, when it was clear this was getting away from us, Head Coach Willie Fritz - while not calling out Long by name - sort of made this comment that some of the coordinators were maybe not adapting to the talent at Tulane and what our strengths and weaknesses were.
At best this year, Tulane had a boom and bust offense that seemed to decline as the year went on and opponents had more tape to work with. In Long’s defense, Pratt also struggled as he increasingly took hits and worked through injuries which seemed to impact his confidence.
I think Tulane fans were pretty universally frustrated, especially when virtually all of the skill position players returned like Pratt and star running back Tyjae Spears. In 2020, Tulane scored 30 or more points in the 10 games of the year – the first time that had happened for us since 1998. In 2021 under Long, Tulane scored 30+ points just three times this season: against Oklahoma, USF, and FCS Morgan State. It was pretty perplexing to see the offensive output drop off that much when, especially with COVID returnees, it felt like there was a lot in the cupboard to work with.
Ben: What are your thoughts on Long as a playcaller and his scheme? What about recruiting?
FTW: I will leave out recruiting because we did not really get to see a full cycle, as he was at Tulane for just under a year. That said, I think there was a feeling that the playcalling didn’t fit the “Jimmy’s and Joe’s” – like Pratt, who was very banged up in the middle part of the season, who seemingly was asked to do a lot in the passing game when you would think Tulane would have leaned harder into building the running attack.
As noted above, the offense progressively got worse as the year went on, from posting 35 points against Oklahoma to ending the season with losses like UCF when the Wave was held to 10 points.
Ben: Are Tulane fans sad to see him go?
FTW: Diplomatically speaking, I would say that we’re happy Georgia Tech found their guy. Long had success at past stops, and there was a lot of excitement in our fan base when he arrived. We never were able to be the right fit for what he does, I guess, and that’s okay.
He’s a former Broyles Award winner, and I think it makes a lot of sense for both parties to get into something new. On the Tulane side, we had the 9th biggest decline in performance from 2020 to 2021 according to ESPN’s SP+. With the year ending on a lackluster note for the offense, I think we’re ready to see something new and to try to turn that around.
Again, I want to give a special thanks to Fear the Wave for taking the time to answer my questions. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter @FearTheWaveBlog.