Business as usual at Tulane as chance to make history awaits in Memphis
NEW ORLEANS – The year was 1998 and the Tulane Green Wave walked out of the Liberty Bowl with a 41-31 win over the Memphis Tigers. The Olive and Blue have been back to the Liberty Bowl six times since this meeting but have not left with a win.
Last season, Tulane defeated Memphis, 40-24, in Yulman Stadium. This marked the first win for the Green Wave in the series with Memphis in 12 games. Since 1998, Tulane holds a 3-12 record against Memphis, but head coach Willie Fritz and the rest of the team are focusing on the present rather than the past.
“I want all the games to be big,” Fritz said. “We want to always get out there. Something I say every Friday night is this is the biggest game in the world because we are playing in it, so you guys put everything into it that you can with preparation and effort when we get out there. They all count as one, last week did not count a half and this week does not count as two, it counts as one. Each one of them counts. You have to put everything into it that you possibly can.”
This matchup also provides the Green Wave the opportunity to become bowl eligible in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1997 and 1998 seasons. The team knows this but won’t let it shake their focus.
“It’s just important to get a win regardless,” senior wide receiver Darnell Mooney said. “It’s not about where or when, all that matters is getting the win.”
Last season against Memphis, Mooney posted four receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown, but that’s not what he remembers from that game.
“I just go out there and be me,” Mooney said. “I remember last year, I started off slow. It was probably my most memorable game. I had three drops in the beginning. I just remember that game and having those drops because I try not to have drops.”
Mooney wasn’t the only one who posted good numbers against the Tigers in 2018, the defense logged seven sacks on the day. The defense will not rest on its laurels this game though.
“This is a whole new year,” junior defensive linemen Cameron Sample said. “We’re focused up in meetings and we’ve got a good scheme going in, so we’ve just got to come out, and execute and stop the running game and get after the pass.”
Memphis was chosen to win the AAC West for the third consecutive year and the Green Wave have taken notice.
“They always predict Memphis to beat us every year, so we plan on coming out and doing the same thing we did last year,” senior defensive back Thakarius Keyes said. “Both teams being 5-1 adds importance for it. Every game matters to us and we just don’t want to lose right now. We’re on a roll right now so we plan on winning each game that comes to us every week. We plan on keeping the Wave rolling.”
The Tulane football team has the opportunity to do two things it hasn’t accomplished in 20 years this week, but it is business as usual here in Uptown.
“Every game is important,” Sample said. “We’re just trying to win every game every week.”
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