Tulane hits bye week with QB decision at forefront

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NEW ORLEANS – It will be a quiet weekend on the Tulane campus, with the Green Wave football team on an open date and the university on fall break.

That gives Willie Fritz and his staff time to recruit and reflect. The biggest decision between now and when the Green Wave returns to the field Oct. 20 against SMU – who will be the starting quarterback against the Mustangs?

Senior Jonathan Banks, who has started all six games for the 2-4 Wave, and junior Justin McMillan split time in last Saturday’s 37-21 loss at Cincinnati.

“I feel like we’ve got two guys who can be very capable quarterbacks,” Fritz said. “(Against Cincinnati,) we were going to go two series each, see how they played, see how they looked. The guy who played a little bit better was going to … play a little bit more.”

What is Fritz looking for in trying to determine his No. 1 guy?

“Just run the offense smoothly,” Fritz said. “Whether it’s the run game, pass game. You take that for granted sometimes. When there’s opportunity to make plays, then make plays.”

It’s not all about what the quarterback does, however. There are 10 other players on the field.

“It’s tough to be successful on a play based on (poor) protection,” Fritz said. “When the play is blocked properly, do you do a good job of running the play properly? That’s an easy one to evaluate. When someone misses their assignment, that affects the quarterback’s grade as well.”

The week off allows Fritz and his staff to dig deeper into some of the analytics of the first half of the season.

“One thing we look at is (the analysis website) Pro Football Focus,” Fritz said. “They rank every player in the country. That’s someone who has no pre-conceived ideas about who’s playing. They just put a grade down. We show that to our guys; that’s not our grade.”

While it can be coach-speak to say an open date falls at a good time, coming off a physical matchup like Cincinnati, the bye may be just what the doctor ordered, literally and figuratively.

“There’s some guys who may not have been able to play this Saturday, but should be able to play a week from Saturday,” Fritz said. “I do think it’s good for the guys to decompress and heal up.”

Tulane and SMU will kick off at 2:30 p.m. next Saturday. The game will be televised by ESPNU.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder

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Lenny has been involved in college athletics since the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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