CFN Take: Tulane O Stalls In Temple Loss
Tulane Green Wave 2014 ...
Head Coach: Curtis Johnson
2014 Tulane Green
Dec. 6 Temple 10, at Tulane 3
Aug. 28 at Tulsa L 38-31
Sep. 6 Georgia Tech L 38-21
Sep. 13 SE Louisiana W 35-20
Sep. 20 at Duke L 47-13
Sep. 27 at Rutgers L 31-6
Oct. 4 OPEN DATE
Oct. 11 Connecticut W 12-3
Oct. 18 at UCF L 20-13
Oct. 25 OPEN DATE
Oct. 31 Cincinnati L 38-14
Nov. 8 at Houston W 31-24
Nov. 15 Memphis L 38-7
Nov. 22 at East Carolina L 34-6
Nov. 29 OPEN DATE
Dec. 6 Temple L 10-3
And You Care Because … In a game full of offensive futility, Temple broke a 3-3 tie with just under nine minutes to play on an eight-yard Romond Deloatch touchdown catch and the D took care of the rest. Tulane scored first on a 28-yard Andrew DiRocco field goal, and Temple tied it in the second on a 37-yard Austin Jones field goal.
What Else? Third down conversions: Tulane 2-of-17 – Temple 1-of-13
- Temple QB P.J. Walker completed 20-of-38 passes for 255 yards and a score with a pick, and ran 16 times for a team-high 76 yards
- Tulane QB Tanner Lee completed 16-of-33 passes for 109 yards, Nick Montana completed 3-of-7 passes for 42 yards with an interception
- Total yards: Temple 347 – Tulane 266
Game Rating: D+
Nov. 22 at East Carolina 34, Tulane 6
And You Care Because … East Carolina didn’t have much of a problem, getting up 10-0 on the first of two Warren Harvey field goals and a Shane Carden four-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Jones. Breon Allen and Marquez Grayson added two short scoring runs, and Carden added an eight-yard touchdown run in the final seconds. Tulane’s only points came on Andrew DiRocco field goals from 33 and 40 yards out. ECU’s Justin Hardy broke the FBS record for most career receptions getting up to 355 after making nine grabs.
What Else? East Carolina QB Shane Carden completed 31-of-44 passes for 358 yards and a score, and ran six times for 12 yards and a touchdown
- Tulane QB Tanner Lee completed 24-of-43 passes for 301 yard and an interception
- East Carolina WR Cam Worthy caught seven passes for 115 yards, and Justin Hardy caught nine passes for 104 yards
- Third down conversions: Tulane 5-of-18 – East Carolina 2-of-11
Game Rating: C-
Nov. 15 Memphis 38, at Tulane 7
And You Care Because … Memphis forced five turnovers with Bobby McCain returning an interception for a touchdown in the first two minutes and Dontrell Nelson coming up with a 58-yard pick six in the third on the way to a 31-0 lead. Paxton Lynch added a 38-yard touchdown pass to Mose Frazier and ran for a four-yard score as the offense helped the Tiger cause. Tulane finally got on the board with just under two minutes to play on a 19-yard Dontrell Hilliard run.
What Else? Turnovers: Tulane 5 – Memphis 2
- Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 14-of-25 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown, and ran eight times for 26 yards and a score
- Tulane QB Tanner Lee completed 26-of-48 passes for 196 yards and three interceptions
- Third down conversions: Tulane 6-of-18 – Memphis 2-of-14
Game Rating: D
Nov. 8 Tulane 31, at Houston 24
And You Care Because … Tulane scored 17 straight points in the second half with Leondre James catching a nine-yard touchdown pass and Dontrell Hilliard running for a one-yard score for a 14-point lead. Houston got a nine-yard Deontay Greenberry touchdown catch with just over a minute to play, but that was it for the Cougar rally. Tanner Lee threw three touchdown passes for the Green Wave including a 12-yarder to Teddy Veal in the first and a 63-yard play to Hilliard in the second.
What Else? Turnovers: Houston 4 – Tulane 2
- Tulane RB Dontrell Hilliard ran 25 times for 85 yards and a touchdown, and caught
- Tulane QB Tanner Lee completed 24-of-35 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns with an interception
- Houston QB Greg Ward Jr. completed 31-of-45 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns with three picks, and ran 18 times for a team-high 59 yards
Game Rating: B-
Oct. 31 Cincinnati 38, at Tulane 14
And You Care Because … Cincinnati dominated from the start with a 24-0 first half lead helped by two Munchie Legaux touchdown passes and a Sam Geraci punt return for a touchdown. The Green Wave tried to rally back, getting two touchdowns in the third quarter on a Lazedrick Thompson touchdown run and a ten-yard Charles Jones catch, but Legaux put it away on an 18-yard throw to Shaq Washington.
What Else? Cincinnati QB Munchie Leqaux completed 16-of-24 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns with an interception, and ran three times for 16 yards
- Tulane QB Tanner Lee completed 24-of-35 passes for 205 yards and a score
- Cincinnati RB Rodriguez Moore ran 15 times for 124 yards and Mike Boone ran 15 times for 113 yards and a score
- Tulane RB Dontrell Hilliard ran 11 times for 123 yards
Game Rating: C-
Oct. 18 at UCF 20, Tulane 13
And You Care Because … UCF came up with a big second quarter on two Shawn Moffitt field goals and a one-yard William Stanback touchdown run, and Breshad Perriman took a pass 45 yards for a score in the third on the way to a 20-6 lead. Tulane could only manage two Andrew DiRocco field goals early, but finally got into the end zone in the fourth on a nine-yard Lazedrick Thompson run to pull within seven. The Green Wave had a few late chances, but UCF came up with two fourth down stops to hang on.
What Else? UCF quarterbacks combined to complete 12-of-23 passes for 139 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions
- Tulane QB Nick Montana completed 18-of-42 passes for 147 yards and two interceptions, and ran five times for 24 yards
- Turnovers: UCF 4 – Tulane 2
- Fourth down conversions: Tulane 0-for-4 – UCF 0-for-3
Game Rating: C+
Oct. 11 at Tulane 12, Connecticut 3
And You Care Because … UConn scored first on a 44-yard Bobby Puyol field goal midway through the first, and then the Tulane defense took over with three takeaways and a safety. Nick Montana and the Green Wave offense did enough to get by, with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Charles Jones and leading to a 38-yard Andrew DiRocco field goal in the fourth.
What Else? Total yards: Tulane 302 – Connecticut 217
- Tulane QB Nick Montana completed 19-of-26 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown
- Connecticut QB Chandler Whitmer completed 17-of-24 passes for 141 yards
- Turnovers: Connecticut 3 – Tulane 0
Game Rating: C-
Sept. 27 at Rutgers 31, Tulane 6
And You Care Because … Rutgers got up 21-0 and coasted with Gary Nova throwing three touchdown passes early on with two to Leonte Carroo from three and 25 yards out and highlighted by a 93-yard play to Andrew Turzilli. Tulane answered the fireworks with an 86-yard Sherman Badie touchdown dash, but Rutgers responded in the second half with a tight defense and a third Carroo scoring grab.
What Else? Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo caught seven passes for 140 yards and three scores.
- Tulane offense: 152 rushing yards, 152 passing yards. Sherman Badie ran 12 times for 108 yards and a score, but 86 came on the one touchdown play.
- With no Paul James – who’s out for the year with a torn ACL – Rutgers got 83 rushing yards from Desmon Peoples on 21 carries and 83 yards on 12 carries from Justin Goodwin.
- Yards per pass: Rutgers 13.9 – Tulane 5.2
Game Rating: C-
Sept. 20 Duke 47, Tulane 13
And You Care Because … Keyed by an opportunistic defense, Duke blew open a game that got as close as 26-13 midway through the third quarter. The Blue Devils created five turnovers, including a pair of pick-sixes to close out the scoring in the final quarter. The Green Wave actually had more first downs and led in time of possession, couldn’t overcome a flood of mistakes on both sides of the ball.
What Else? How sloppy was Tulane? Besides the five turnovers, the Green Wave committed 13 penalties and was just 6-of-24 on third and fourth-down attempts.
- It was a huge game for the Duke defense. Yeah, there were the four interceptions and two defensive touchdowns, but the Blue Devils also generated eight stops for loss, three sacks and six pass breakups.
- Tanner Lee is struggling badly as the Tulane quarterback. He got a lot of help from RB Lazedrick Thompson and the ground game, yet still went 14-of-35 for 160 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions.
- Thomas Sirk is the new Brandon Connette in Durham. The running complement to starting QB Anthony Boone, Sirk rushed for a team-high 94 yards and a score on just five carries Saturday.
Game Rating: C
Sept. 13 at Tulane 35, SE Louisiana 20
And You Care Because … Tulane came up with 21 second half points with Tanner Lee throwing two touchdown passes and Sherman Badie catching a three-yard scoring pass to go along with an 11-yard touchdown run. Lee put the game well out of reach with a 74-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Rush in the fourth. The two teams combined for 27 penalties for 257 yards, and each turned it over three times.
Game Rating: C-
Sept. 6 Georgia Tech 38, at Tulane 21
And You Care Because … Down 21-14 in the second quarter, Georgia Tech scored 24 unanswered points with Tony Zenon running for two scores and Tim Byerly adding another. Mistakes killed Tulane with three turnovers – with a pick six - and ten penalties, but the offense was successful early with two Tanner Lee touchdown passes including a 61-yarder to Xavier Rush. The Yellow Jackets ran for 344 yards and converted 10-of-12 third down plays.
Game Rating: C+
New league. New home. And a new direction for a program that was just pining for a reversal of fortune.
There’s an awful lot to feel optimistic about at Tulane, which hasn’t been the case in a very long time. The Green Wave—shockingly— went 7-6 a year ago to finish with a winning record and a bowl berth for the first time in 12 years. Up ahead are even more reasons for the program to beam with pride.
In 2014, Tulane joins the more competitive American Athletic Conference, while pulling back the curtain on Yulman Stadium, a brand new open-air facility that replaces the impersonal and cavernous Superdome. The Green Wave is mildly trendy. Now it has to remain that way.
Curtis Johnson did a terrific job in his second season as a head coach by maximizing every ounce of potential from his players. The talent pool in New Orleans was modest, yet Tulane overcame it with a scrappy defense that rung up an uncommon number of sacks, tackles for loss and turnovers.
Coordinators Jon Sumrall and Lionel Washington will once again fashion a small, yet feisty D that can really take it to opponents. The secondary, led by Lorenzo Doss, Darion Monroe and Sam Scofield, is a collection of ball-hawks who can change the momentum of the game. But can the offense carry enough of the weight to keep the program from sliding south in the fall?
Don’t be fooled by the Green Wave’s scoring output in 2013; it was greatly exaggerated by a defense that created countless short-field opportunities. Tulane averaged only 4.6 yards per play to rank 115th nationally. And now the team’s leading rusher, Orleans Darkwa, and next-level wide receiver, Ryan Grant, are gone.
If someone doesn’t step up in a big way, the Green Wave will wind up putting too much pressure on a defense that can carry a squad only so far. Johnson doesn’t have a single sure-thing on this side of the ball, and the battle at quarterback will rage on through the summer.
It’s the dawn of a new era at Tulane and an exciting time to be affiliated with the program. The Green Wave engineered an improbable mini-breakthrough in 2013. This season is all about avoiding the kind of ebb tide that washes away all of the gains that Johnson & Co. made last fall.
What to watch for on offense: An interesting and protracted quarterback battle. Tulane’s quest to crank up the offense begins behind center, with three uniquely different contenders. Nick Montana, Joe’s son, is the oft-injured incumbent. Sophomore Devin Powell has all of the physical tools for success. Redshirt freshman Tanner Lee, though, might be the one to watch this summer. The 6-4, 203-pounder not only has the highest overall ceiling, but he outplayed his more experienced teammates in the spring. There’s cautious optimism that Lee might be the program’s best quarterback since J.P. Losman transferred from UCLA more than a decade ago. Lee and Powell were atop the depth chart at the conclusion of spring drills.
What to watch for on defense: More of the same. Tulane isn’t blessed with great size or a roster featuring the depth and talent of, say, LSU. The Green Wave is scrappy and athletic, compelling the coaches to turn the defenders loose and let them roam without many restrictions. The unit will certainly miss graduating DE Julius Warmsley and NB Jordan Batiste, who has transferred. Hopes are high, though, that Royce LaFrance can bloom into the program’s best pass rusher, while stout, 331-pound DT Tanzel Smart anchors the interior of a line rebuilding at tackle.
The team will be far better if … if the offense can stretch the field more consistently. The Green Wave was downright feeble a year ago, producing just two plays of 50 or more yards in 13 games. Tulane gave opposing defenses a license to compress the field, and that was when it had a quality back and a future NFL wide receiver in the huddle. If the Green Wave is unable to perform with more pop and efficiency with the ball, it’ll struggle every week to move the chains in a more competitive American Athletic Conference.
The Schedule: The Green Wave get a nice big test right away at Tulsa to kick things off to let them know where they stand
in the brave new world of the American Athletic Conference, and it doesn't get
too much easier over the first half of the season having to deal with road games
at Duke, Rutgers and UCF to go along with home games against Georgia Southern,
UConn and Cincinnatin. And then comes November. Road games at Houston and East
Carolina won't be fun, making Memphis and Temple dates vital.
Best Offensive Player: Senior OT Sean Donnelly. Donnelly will anchor an offensive line that returns three starters, including OT Arturo Uzdavinis and Nathan Shienle, who’s transitioning from guard to center. The unit needs to improve in all phases, with Donnelly setting the tone. The 6-8, 312-pounder owns three letters and two dozen career starts, using his long arms and his know-how to keep pass rushers off his body. Donnelly was named honorable mention All-Conference USA in 2013.
Best Defensive Player: Junior CB Lorenzo Doss. Doss is good, like SEC-good. The third-year starter is beginning to build a resume that’s going to be read by NFL people before very long. He’s only 5-11 and 175 pounds, and in need of more muscle, but he has the elite cover skills to eliminate half the field for quarterbacks. The reigning First Team All-Conference USA selection broke up 16 passes in 2013, picking off a league-high seven of them and returning two for touchdowns.
Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshman QB Tanner Lee. Tulane’s ceiling is limited if it can’t get a spark out of the quarterback position, and Lee is the best guy to do the trick. Yes, he’s young, but he’s also brimming with upside potential. With the level of competition set to rise, the Green Wave must stride toward becoming a more complete team in 2014, which is code for the offense generating more than just the occasional three-play breather for the D.
The season will be a success if ... the Green Wave reaches six regular season wins in its debut in the American. Yeah, it’s a bit of a stretch considering the tougher schedule, but Tulane needs to aim a little higher now that it’s tasted the postseason for the first time in more than a decade. This isn’t the kind of program that can withstand retreats or lapses in progress. The Green Wave has to capitalize on last fall by playing like a team that needs to be considered as a perennial postseason threat.
Key game: Aug. 28 at Tulsa. Becoming bowl-eligible for a second-straight year will require the Green Wave to capture a road game at some point during the season. A visit to Tulsa provides a realistic opportunity for a win away from Yulman Stadium. The Green Wave and the Golden Hurricane are joining the American at the same time, meaning they’ll be continuing a rivalry that began almost a decade ago when both schools were Conference USA members. Tulsa is down, so Tulane cannot allow this opening at Chapman Stadium to slip away.
2013 Fun Stats:
- Yards per game: Tulane 310.6 – Opponents 350.9
- Takeaways: Tulane 35 – Opponents 24
- Red-zone TD%: Tulane 61% - Opponents 43%
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