The fun has just begun for Tulane in surprising football season
All right, Tulane Green Wave fans! These really are good times! Feel free to enjoy them.
But history tells us that a number of you out there are thinking you’ve seen this movie before. You are expecting to awaken and find that it was all a dream.
Tulane has a 7-1 record? The Wave is nationally ranked?
No. It’s not a dream. And there are indications that this year’s squad is not the result of Jupiter aligning with Mars or just plain old luck.
The seventh edition of Tulane Football under Willie Fritz has all the ingredients you’d find in a good team.
There’s no reason for Olive Green and Sky Blue faithful to run out and make reservations for Los Angeles on January 9, location and date of the College Football National Championship. However, a New Year’s Day Bowl game is within reach.
It would be quite an accomplishment for a program coming off a disappointing 2-10 season in 2021 and perhaps this season’s biggest turnaround in college football.
The offense is evolving nicely but defense is the difference. Last season, Tulane ranked 9th in the 11-team American Athletic Conference (AAC) in total defense, yielding 34 points-a-game. This season they stand 2nd in total defense and the scoring-defense average is cut in half at 17 points per contest.
Led by playmakers like linebackers Nick Anderson and Dorian Williams as well as safety Macon Clark, the Green Wave has won games with difference-making plays on defense. Tulane has scored 59 points off of turnovers compared to 17 for the opposition.
On offense, Tulane has turned it over a mere eight times in eight games.
Junior quarterback Michael Pratt has been more than solid with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions in seven games. He is spreading the wealth with seven players on the roster boasting double-digit receptions on the season.
Running back Tyjae Spears continues to be the best all-purpose player in the conference with 791 all-purpose yards and 10 scores.
The offensive line – so terrible last season – has improved. Tulane quarterbacks have been sacked just 10 times in eight games. Last season, the Wave was 102nd nationally in sacks allowed per game.
Like every team in college football, Tulane’s roster was changed thanks to loosened transfer rules. Free movement has helped Tulane. It seems anyone can transfer at any time but Willie Fritz has taken advantage of the situation with three locals who have contributed and have more than one season of eligibility. Running back Shaadie Clayton-Johnson (Easton/Colorado), receiver/returner Lawrence Keys III (McDonough 35/Notre Dame) and defensive lineman Patrick Jenkins (Ehret/TCU) have all contributed.
Yes. We all know it does not take much to derail the Good Time Express. For instance:
· One key injury.
· Human error by officials. Ask an older Tulane fan about the “Miami 5th Down Game” of 1972.
· Just plain old bad luck where one play in a close game goes against you, for whatever reason.
The Greenies have four conference outings remaining including Central Florida and SMU at home plus Tulsa and Cincinnati on the road.
Out of that capable collection of foes, Cincinnati on the road could pose a biggest problem. The Bearcats are ranked 20th in the AP Poll, three spots ahead of the Green Wave. Both clubs are the only Group of 5 teams ranked in the AP Poll. If Tulane and Cincy make it to the season-ending November 25 clash undefeated in AAC play and vying for the league’s regular season title, it could be the first of two meetings in one week. They’d have to turn around and do it again on December 3 in the AAC Conference Championship Game.
It could also serve as the battle for a New Year’s 6 Bowl invite.
Okay. I may be thinking too far ahead.
But the point is, it appears Fritz and his crew have what it takes to show up and belong in this conversation.
Tulane in a New Year’s Day Bowl? The last time that happened was January 1, 1940. It was Texas A&M 14, Tulane 13.
What an end that would be to an 83-year journey. Let the good times – and the Green Wave – roll.
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