Strength in Numbers: Tulane’s rushing attack rolls deep

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Tulane running game
(Photo: Parker Waters)

NEW ORLEANS – For most college football teams not having access to two of their top three rushers could translate into a complete abandonment from the run game.

Last week at Navy, the Green Wave were forced into that exact scenario.

The result?

Tulane finished the day with 187 yards, two rushing touchdowns and averaged 4.5 yards per play.

Yes, you read that correctly. Despite having two of its top three running backs unavailable last week because of injury, Tulane was still able to feature an explosive rushing attack and it do so against a Navy team that entered the game with the nation’s 16th-best rushing defense.

“That really is a testament to the group and those guys being ready to play,” Tulane running backs coach Jamaal Fobbs said. “We try and train everybody the same way because your next play could be your last one, but the good thing about that is that our guys are always ready to go.”

So how did that happen? One word – depth.

Against the Midshipmen, Tulane freshmen Cameron Carroll and Tyjae Spears combined for 131 yards (6.5 yards carry) and nearly helped spearhead an incredible 24-point comeback on the road.

“The good thing about our running backs room is that it provides great competition and it keeps everybody sharp,” Fobbs said. “Everybody wants to get more plays and to get more plays you have to be consistent and you have to be able to execute when your number is called. The one thing that these guys take ownership of is when their number is called, they are going in there at 100 percent.”

The Green Wave rushing attack enters their Homecoming matchup with Tulsa with one of the deepest running back units in the nation.

“I’m blessed to be able to coach these guys,” Fobbs said. “It’s really refreshing to be able to coach a group of guys that are all so unselfish and really pull for each other. It’s really a close knit group and they really root for each other.”

Through eight games this season, Tulane owns the nation’s eighth-ranked rushing attack, averaging 257.6 yards per game. In addition, the Green Wave is one of only four schools that have had seven players rush for 100-or-more yards this season.

“We have great kids in our program and that’s the one thing we talk about,” Fobbs said. “Each and everyone of our guys want to be the guy, but they understand that there is an overall grand scheme to the team and I think they understand that. They also know that when they get the opportunity that they have to go.”

This week the Green Wave will add to its rushing arsenal, as senior running backs Darius Bradwell and Corey Dauphine return to the lineup after missing last week.

“They are both hungry and ready to go,” Fobbs said. “They are feeling good and they are healthy and they are both excited to get the chance to mix it up and carry the ball.”

Bradwell and Dauphine have combined to rush for 702 yards and five touchdowns on the year.

“This group here is special,” Fobbs said. “I’m sure our guys know that we are doing well running the ball this year, but in our running backs room we only harp on one stat and that’s the win-loss column and doing what we need to do to help our team win. We just try to keep our heads down, work hard and score as many points as we can.”

A win over Tulsa would hand the Green Wave their sixth win on the year and make Tulane bowl eligible for the second straight year. The last time Tulane was bowl eligible in back-to-back seasons was in 1997 and 1998.

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