Growing pains part of slow but bumpy rise for Tulane football

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USF at Tulane 2017

With a national television audience watching, Tulane had an opportunity to showcase its relatively new stadium, its program and its nice uniforms against South Florida.

A slow start sabotaged any chance of an upset but in the final analysis, it was not a bad showing or result.

USF is unbeaten and ranked 16th in the nation for a reason. The Bulls are good football team with a superb quarterback.

After doing a high school game Saturday night, I returned home to watch a replay of Tulane’s loss to USF. In retrospect, it would have been nice to hit the fast forward button and skip to the fourth quarter.

When you have an athlete the caliber of Quinton Flowers running the show for you, winning is sure to follow. Playmakers win games. USF has them, particularly at the most important position on the field. Tulane does not have enough of them.

Dontrell Hilliard is a very good college football player who has a very good chance of playing in the NFL. Sherman Badie has very good speed. Unfortunately, both are seniors. Quarterback Jonathan Banks is a vast improvement over what Willie Fritz had a year ago.

The Tulane defense is not as good as it was a year ago. When you give up over 500 yards in a game, you are not going to win. When you give up over 400 yards to a mediocre FIU team, you are not going to win.

One of the most overused and abused lines pertaining to athletic events is the line that the losing team “never quit.” The game is 60 minutes long. No one is expected to quit until it is over. Of course, having character, intestinal fortitude, a competitive spirit and team-first attitude as compared to a selfish approach is paramount and it is not always the case.

Give Tulane credit for being a team with character that competes hard and competed hard for 60 minutes against a better team Saturday night. Fritz has to be very pleased with the way his team kept fighting and made what could have been an embarrassing, blowout loss into a competitive game.

Ultimately, Tulane was done in by not being able to stop Flowers or Darius Tice and by 12 penalties for 91 yards, along with an interception. While the turnovers were even, Tulane desperately needed to win that department against a better team and could not make mistakes to have a chance at an upset.

In the final analysis, if you want to beat a team like USF, you need better players than you have. It is really as simple as that.

Fritz needs two more good recruiting classes to be a true contender for American Athletic Conference championship honors. He needs another year to get Tulane to being a winner, though a winning season is still not out of the question this year.

At 3-4, Tulane must win four of its last five games to achieve its first winning season since 2013 and just its third winning season in this century.

The Green Wave must win three of its final five games to become bowl-eligible. Playing at Memphis (6-1) next Saturday, Tulane will be a clear underdog. The Green Wave will be favored at home against Cincinnati (2-6). A big game will be a road trip to East Carolina (2-6). That is one Tulane must win if it hopes to get to .500. Houston (4-3) comes to New Orleans with a team that can score on Nov. 18. The season ends at SMU (5-2), an improved football team that will be favored to beat Tulane.

The formula is simple—beat Cincinnati, East Carolina and Houston and real progress will be achieved. Win two more games and it is at least an improvement over last year.

Another of the tired, tried-and-true clichés is “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” To get Tulane back to being a respectable, winning program, Fritz always needed a complete recruiting cycle of four years to replenish talent, change culture and to recruit the type of players suited to his system. He is halfway there.

The loss to FIU put a serious crimp in the prospects of achieving the goal of a winning season or .500 season. The loss to USF was expected. The Bulls simply have better players. That is what Tulane needs.

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Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan

Owner/CEO

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…

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