Tulane Game Notes: Green Wave opens AAC slate at ECU

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Cam Carroll

GREEN WAVE FOOTBALL OPENS LEAGUE PLAY ECU
-The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, as they head to Greenville, N.C., for their meeting with East Carolina.
-The game will be aired live on ESPN+ and will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. CT.
-Tulane’s matchup with ECU will mark the Green Wave’s American Athletic Conference opener.
-Tulane’s trip to ECU will mark the second straight year the Green Wave have traveled to East Carolina. Last season in Greenville, Tulane defeated the Pirates 38-21. The Green Wave enter Saturday afternoon’s game in search of their fourth straight win over the Pirates. The Green Wave have won four of the last five games against ECU dating back to the 2013 season.
-Tulane will look to bounce back from their 28-21 loss at home against UAB this past Saturday.

FIRST AND 10
1. Tulane comes into its matchup with UAB featuring the nation’s 28th-best scoring offense, averaging 36.5 points per game. Tulane’s offensive unit also ranks fifth in The American.
2. The Green Wave defensive unit has made a name for themselves this season, ranking fourth in the American Athletic Conference in turnovers gained (30th in the nation). Tulane’s defense also leads the AAC in tackles for loss (13th nationally), averaging 8.0 TFL’s per game.
3. Tight end Tyrick James has established himself as one of the top tight ends in the country in the early portion of the 2021 season. His 246 yards receiving rank fifth in the nation among tight ends.
4. Last week against UAB, freshman quarterback Michael Pratt tied a career high with three touchdown passes against the Blazers. Pratt has thrown for a touchdown pass in every college game he has played in since making his debut in 2020 (14 straight games). He currently has 30 career touchdown passes and has cracked into the program’s all-time Top 10 in career touchdown passes (he is currently ranked ninth all-time).
5. Tulane posted 69 points three weeks ago against Morgan State. The Green Wave have surpassed 30-or-more points in 10 of their last 14 games, dating back to last season.
6. The Green Wave’s 69 points against Morgan State were the second-highest total in week two among teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
7. The Green Wave have surpassed 200 yards rushing in 16 of their last 29 games dating back to the start of the 2019 season. Tulane led the American in rushing yards per game last year, averaging 217.1 per game. Last week against UAB, Tulane was limited to 90 yards on the ground.
8. Tulane has rushed for over 100 yards or more as a team in 67 of its last 69 games. Last week against UAB, Tulane was held to under 100 yards rushing for the second time dating back to the 2015 season. Tulane had its 56-game streak of rushing for at least 100 yards as a team snapped at Houston back on Oct. 8, 2020.
9. Tulane’s special teams rank second in the nation in net punting (46.06 yards per game). The Green Wave lead the nation in punt return defense, holding teams to a -9.00 yards per return.
10. Tulane was one of just 15 FBS teams to play 12 or more games in 2020 (no games were canceled and team activities were never paused during the season).

SCOUTING ECU
• The Pirates enter their matchup with Tulane following a hard-fought 31-28 win over Charleston Southern this past Saturday.
• With the win, ECU captured its second straight win.
• ECU rebounded from an early 14-0 deficit with 31 consecutive points
• The Pirates captured the win despite being outgained (536-388), running 41 fewer plays (100-59) and having 21 fewer first downs (35-14).
• Freshman running back Keaton Mitchell led the way for the Pirates in the win, as he rushed for 125 yards on just 13 carries.
• Quarterback Holton Ahlers completed 17 of 26 passes for 238 yards.
• Defensively, ECU has forced at least one turnover in the last 12 games.
• ECU opened the year with back-to-back losses against Appalachian State (33-19) and at home to South Carolina (20-17).
• The Pirates were to finish the season in a tie for eighth with Navy in the American Athletic Conference preseason poll.
• Head coach Mike Houston coaches the Pirates. He is in his third season and owns a 9-16 record at ECU.

LAST TIME OUT: TULANE FALLS AT HOME AGAINST UAB
• Tulane dropped its second straight game of the season on Saturday as it fell to UAB.
• The Green Wave found themselves in a 21-point hole midway through the second quarter, but responded with two touchdowns to close out the first half and trailed by just one score at halftime (21-14).
• Tulane faced UAB for the 11th time in program history. The Blazers’ visit to Yulman Stadium was its first.
• UAB leads the all-time series 6-5.
• Sincere Haynesworth, Duece Watts, Kevin Henry and Eric Hicks served as the team captains.
• Tulane running back Devin Brumfield carried the Wave of Change flag and Green Wave tight end Tyrick James carried the No. 18 flag in honor of former Tulane student-athlete Devon Walker.
• With the loss, Tulane head coach Willie Fritz moved to 223-110-1 all-time.
• Offensive starters for the Green Wave were QB Michael Pratt, RB Cameron Carroll, WR Jha’Quan Jackson, WR Jaetavian Toles, WR Duece Watts, TE Tyrick James, OL Joey Claybrook, OL Corey Dublin, OL Sincere Haynesworth, OL Caleb Thomas, OL Rashad Green.
• Dublin’s start was the 53rd of his career. Dublin has the most starts of any player on the team.
• Pratt tied a career high with 296 passing yards.
• Will Wallace hauled in his second touchdown reception of the year.
• Senior wide receiver Jaetavian Toles tied a career-high with five receptions. His 90 yards receiving were a career high.
• Redshirt sophomore Ygenio Booker finished the game with a team-best 59 yards rushing.
• Defensive starters for the Green Wave were DL JoJo Dorceus, DL Eric Hicks Jr., DL Jeffery Johnson, DL Darius Hodges, LB Dorian Williams, LB Kevin Henry, DB Jadon Canady, DB Jaylon Monroe, Lance Robinson, Macon Clark and Rudy Dyson.
• Williams led the team with seven tackles.
• Defensive lineman Noah Seiden registered a career-high 2.0 sacks.
• Angelo Anderson picked up his first sack of the season. He also added two tackles for loss and finished the game with 4.0 tackles.
• For the fourth straight game, Tulane’s defense created a turnover.
• Linebacker Kevin Henry tallied 9.0 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
• Anderson forced a fumble and Williams recovered a fumble.
• As a team, Tulane finished the game with 8.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks.
• Punter Ryan Wright finished the game with four punts for 185 yards (46.2 average).

PRATT FRAT
• In just 14 career appearances, quarterback Michael Pratt has quickly made a name for himself in the college football landscape.
• Pratt has thrown for over 2,500 yards and has 30 touchdown passes in his career.
• His 10 touchdowns this season rank second in The American and 10th nationally.
• Pratt also ranks fifth in the American in passing yards (882).
• The Florida native has now thrown for multiple touchdown passes in 12 career games.
• Last week against UAB, Pratt threw his first interception of the year in the third quarter against the Blazers. Prior to his interception, Pratt had gone 96 attempts without throwing an interception.

THE OLD GUARD
• Tulane linebacker Kevin Henry is one of only two players (USF’s Thad Magnum) in the American Athletic Conference that is in his seventh year playing college football.
• The seventh-year linebacker currently leads the team in tackles with 23.
• Earlier this year against Morgan State, Henry collected his first career interception.
• During his five years at Oklahoma State, Henry guided the Cowboys to 45 wins and five bowl appearances.

MR OCTOBER
• Now in his 29th year as a head coach, Willie Fritz has coached in 128 games in the month of October.
• In those 128 games, Fritz’s teams have posted a mark of 76-51-1.
• In addition, Fritz’s teams have tallied a perfect mark in the month of October on six separate occasions

35 EQUALS WINS
• Under Coach Fritz, the Green Wave have scored over 35 points in 24 games. Tulane is 21-3 in those games.
• The Olive and Blue scored exactly 38 points in last three of their last six games in 2020, all of which were wins. Tulane scored 35+ in three straight games against FBS opponents for only the second time in Fritz’s tenure. The Green Wave achieved the feat last season in wins over Houston, Army and UConn in 2019.

GETTING DEFENSIVE
• Tulane has continued its trend of putting pressure on the opposing offense, averaging an AAC-best 8.0 tackles for loss per game.
• On Sept. 11 versus Morgan State, Tulane tallied 6.0 sacks and 10.0 tackles for loss.
• Against Ole Miss, the Green Wave registered 8.0 tackles for loss.
• Last week against UAB, Tulane 8.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks.
• The Green Wave finished the 2020 campaign first in the American Athletic Conference as a team with 36.0 sacks.
• The Green Wave defense held strong up front all of last season. The unit ranked fifth in FBS and first in the AAC in tackles for loss per game at 8.5.
• Tulane’s defensive attack pushed opposing offenses back 405 yards.
• The Olive and Blue recorded 101 tackles for loss last season, which ranked third nationally.
• The Green Wave also ranked third in the league and 31st nationally in interceptions, finishing with 12.
• Tulane ranked third in The American and 26th nationally in passes defended with 63.
• The Green Wave defense held the line of scrimmage all season in 2020. Tulane logged 10 or more tackles for loss in a single game four times last season.

THE IRON MEN
• Tulane returns four players who started in every game last year.
• OL Sincere Haynesworth, TE Tyrick James, DL Jeffery Johnson, CB Jaylon Monroe started in every game during the 2020 campaign.
• Through four games this season, Tulane has had 14 players that have played in every game.

DORIAN WILLIAMS LEADS THE WAY
• Sophomore Dorian Williams was named to the preseason watch lists for the Bednarik and Lombardi Awards.
• In the 2021 opener at Oklahoma, Williams tallied eight tackles which tied for the team lead.
• Last week against UAB, led the team with seven tackles.
• Williams stepped up on the defensive side of the ball for the Green Wave in 2020. He has finished first or second on the team in tackles on nine occasions last season.
• Williams led the Green Wave with 98 total tackles and 16.5 tackles for loss.

NEXT MAN UP ON DEFENSE
• The Green Wave’s defense had a next man up mentality with five different players recording double-digit tackles on 10 different occasions in a single game last season.
• Senior Marvin Moody started the trend with 20 tackles against Navy, which is a single game team-high on the season.
• Sophomore Dorian Williams followed that performance with 10 tackles at Southern Miss.
• At Houston, Williams logged 12 tackles.
• Junior Larry Brooks was the next Tulane player to do it with 11 against SMU.
• Williams added 12 at UCF.
• Junior Nick Anderson got in on the action with 14 tackles in the win over Temple.
• Williams achieved the feat again when he recorded 11 tackles at Tulsa. Anderson followed suit with 11 tackles himself in the same game.
• Williams finished the year with 14 tackles in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Running DEEP AT RUNNING BACK
• The Tulane running back room will be one of the deepest in the country as it returns redshirt freshman Tyjae Spears and redshirt sophomores Cam Carroll and Ygenio Booker. The returning running backs combined for 1,056 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns in 2020.
• The Green Wave will return nearly half of their rushing yards from running backs (47.5 percent) during the 2020 season.
• Against Morgan State, Tulane had eight running backs carry the ball in the Green Wave’s win over the Bears. Tulane finished the day by rushing for 294 yards on the ground as a team.

FOR THE BRAND
• Senior Ryan Wright has made a habit of booming punts throughout his career with the Green Wave.
• He currently leads the American Athletic Conference and ranks 10th nationally, averaging 48.0 yards per punt.
• Throughout his career has totaled over 7,000 punt yards (7,253). He is one of only 10 Tulane players to surpass 7,000 career punt yards in program history.
• In Wright’s first game of the 2021 campaign, he averaged 49.7 yards per punt and against Oklahoma.
• Against Morgan State, Wright’s lone punt traveled 68 yards.
• Two weeks ago at Ole Miss, Wright averaged 45.8 yards per punt and dropped two punts inside the 20-yard line.
• Following his performance at Ole Miss, he was named to the Ray’s 8 List – an honor that the Ray Guy Award bestows on the Top 8 punters of the week.
• Last week against UAB, Wright averaged 46.2 yards per punt.
• In 2020, Wright finished the regular season as one of 14 punters that surpassed 2,000 punting yards.
• Following the 2020 campaign, Wright earned All-AAC First Team honors.
• Prior to the 2021 campaign, Wright was selected to the preseason watch list for the Ray Guy Award.

MEET THE PRESS: Fritz Previews ECU at Weekly News Conference

Listed below is the complete transcript from Green Wave football head coach Willie Fritz’s weekly press conference leading up to Tulane’s matchup vs. ECU on Saturday.

Opening Statement
“This is really our first normal week. We got out of the hotel on Friday and moved into our residences, and going to class in person began yesterday. The second day will be today. We’re getting some lifting in as well, back in the weight room. Some guys lift Sunday/Tuesday, some guys Monday/Wednesday and then have a heavy practice here on Tuesday. We’re going to get a good workout and get working on ECU. ECU is a good opponent, they’ve had a tough schedule. They have played some good schools: South Carolina, App State, Marshall. They had a tough game last weekend against Charleston Southern and came out victorious so it’s another big challenge for us.”

The running game stats can be skewed when you’re behind, but you just haven’t run the ball as well this year as you would like. What do you feel like have been the biggest issues through the first four games?
“Sometimes it’s been the score and you have to score quick and that’s more difficult to do when you run the ball in a series. We have to do a better job of it. We have to run the ball more effectively and have got to get some run plays that we can hang our hat on. If there’s a run play that we know we can gain yards on every time – we call it. We have to get better running the football.”

Does it surprise you at all that the run game has not been as affective?
“We’ve got a few new guys in a few new spots. I think a little bit of it has been the score of the game which has dictated a little bit about running the football and when we can run it. Sometimes in the halves we’ve had very little time, we’ve had to go two minute, and so some of it is situation and some of it is score.”

By the other token, YG (Ygenio Booker) had some really good runs this last game, has he earned himself a comfortable spot in the lineup?
“Yeah he’s going to keep playing more and more and more. What the issue has always been with YG is just health. He’s been banged up the last couple years and we had guys in front of him when he was healthy. We’ve got some good backs and we need to exploit their ability a little bit more.”

Any thoughts on the defense and what you could do to improve there?
“Yeah I was disappointed. I thought we did a poor job tackling last week and we have got to get better at tackling. We are certainly working on it a bunch. We have a few guys out right now that are maybe somewhat better tacklers and hopefully we will get one or two of those guys back this week. We just have to tackle better, if we tackled better we really would have played a pretty darned good defense, but we didn’t tackle well. You got to play good defense and you got to tackle well. You can’t have one without the other.”

Can you attribute that to Nick (Anderson) being out?
“Well he’s obviously a great tackler and a really good player for us so it certainly didn’t help us with him not being able to play.”

Did you see this one coming at all?
“I knew UAB is a good team, I believe they won that conference three out of the last four years. We knew we were going to have to play real good in order to win the ball game and we didn’t start off very good. Then in the second half, we had a couple crucial plays we needed to make and we didn’t make them. We had to play catch up the rest of the ball game so they got it. They’re probably the front runner to win that league again this year. They’re a good ball club. We felt like we were capable of beating them but we had to play well in order to do it, and I don’t think we played a great game.”

You were in this position a couple years ago, you were actually 2-5 and turned it around. Do you see any similarities or are each different?
“Every year is different, we just need to keep pressing and keep playing hard and not worry about the rest of the season. When you set your schedule up before the season begins you do it with when you’re playing people, and your practice schedule changes slightly based on a Thursday night or a Saturday or a night game or whatever. But once you get into it, you have to go one at a time and return your attention. It was a hard one this last week, but you have to turn the page and you’ve got to move on.”

Noah Seidan made some plays in his game, he had a big year last year that earned him a scholarship. What allows him to continue to be as effective as he is?
“He had great technique. He’s earned himself a starting job and will start this week. He’s got excellent technique and can get off of blocks, he’s not a rep guy at all. When you tell him something he is able to do it immediately.”

On the losses of Patrick Johnson and Cameron Sample…
“Well those two guys are great players. Cam (Sample) just had a sack in the NFL the other day and Patrick I know has played quite a bit for Philadelphia, so I heard. I didn’t get the chance to watch the game, or either of them, obviously, but they’re both great players. But you’ve gotta be able to replace guys, and we lost some guys the year before that and the year before that and the year before that. We have guys who have some opportunities to step up and show what they can do and they need to take advantage of it. But those two were certainly excellent football players. We need some guys to step up, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be at that position, it might be at another position. It might be a linebacker or a safety, a guy all of a sudden elevates his play and plays better.”

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