College football rewind: LSU, Tulane defenses solid early

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Tulane at Navy 2017
Luke Jackson (#44) and the Tulane defense performed well in a 23-21 defeat at Navy (Photo: Parker Waters).

Pressing the rewind button to look back at the second week of the college football season in southeast Louisiana…

LSU has been outstanding on defense through the first two games, allowing just 10 points in victories over BYU and Chattanooga. The Tigers rank No. 1 nationally in rushing defense (31.5 yards per game) and No. 5 nationally in total defense (169.5 yards per game).

The LSU offense is doing its part to help, committing no turnovers through the first 120 minutes of football and ranking fourth nationally in time of possession with an average of more than 38 minutes per game.

After a more conservative approach against BYU, LSU took some deep shots against Chattanooga, and Danny Etling delivered. He ranks fourth nationally in yards per pass attempt (12.84) after two weeks.

Now things get more difficult with the first of five SEC road tests Saturday against Mississippi State, which has scored 106 points in victories over Charleston Southern and Louisiana Tech.

Dual-threat quarterback Nick Fitzgerald figures to be the biggest test to date for Dave Aranda’s defense.

Tulane had a real chance to steal a victory at Navy Saturday, but couldn’t come up with the key offensive play in the fourth quarter.

The Green Wave defense held its own against the option offense of the Midshipmen. Tulane ranks in the top 30 nationally and first in the American Athletic Conference in total defense through two games, allowing 275.5 yards per game.

Meanwhile, the Wave lost quarterback Jonathan Banks to a rib injury, but backup Johnathan Brantley did an admirable job in relief, nearly leading Tulane back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

But things are about to get tougher. A LOT tougher. Willie Fritz’s club heads to Norman, Oklahoma, this week to face No. 2-ranked Oklahoma, fresh off a road win over Ohio State in a top-five showdown.

For the second consecutive year, Nicholls went on the road and took an SEC opponent into the fourth quarter. After putting a scare into Georgia last year, Tim Rebowe’s Colonels played Texas A&M to a 14-14 tie for more than three quarters before the Aggies drew clear for a 24-14 victory.

The passing combination of Archbishop Rummel alums Chase Fourcade and Damon Jeanpiere has been outstanding in the first two games.

Fourcade is averaging more than 20 yards per completion through two weeks, third-best among Football Championship Series quarterbacks. Jeanpiere, who had five receptions for 174 yards against A&M, leads the FCS with an average of 39.9 yards per catch. He has caught eight passes for 319 yards on the season.

Nicholls is at home Saturday night against Prairie View in the Colonels’ final non-conference test of the year.

In Hammond, Southeastern lost to Bethune-Cookman 28-23 Saturday. The Lions played without starting quarterback Lorenzo Nunez, who nearly engineered a Week 1 upset at Louisiana-Lafayette.

Eugene Bethea, who had a 7-yard touchdown run against B-CC, leads the Southland Conference with 255 yards rushing.

The Lions will have a tough test this week as it travels to Central Arkansas.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder

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Lenny has been involved in college athletics since the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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