Tulane still on schedule for superb season as decision on Pratt looms
All is not lost. Reviewing the Tulane game with Ole Miss on tape, the better team won but it was a battle that the Green Wave showed they are good enough to win.
The Rebels are a good team and deserved to win. Tulane is a good team that gave themselves chances to win even though quarterback Michael Pratt could not play.
Make no mistake about what I am saying – Ole Miss is good, deserved to win and may well have won a closer game with Pratt playing.
Then again, seeing what we saw and what I reviewed, the Green Wave may have won with Pratt. The four-year starter is that good.
Despite Kai Horton playing admirably in the first half, the Tulane offense sputtered in the second half.
Horton remains a solid reserve and Justin Ibieta is capable as well. Michael Pratt is simply much better.
If it is possible, Pratt’s NFL stock may have gone up despite not playing a down this past Saturday. It is obvious how important Pratt is to the Green Wave offense.
There is no dynamic running game in the absence of Tyjae Spears. For that matter, there is no dynamic threat out of the backfield in the passing game without the now-NFL rookie who had three carries for 27 yards plus one reception in his Tennessee Titans debut Sunday in New Orleans against the Saints.
There is no real threat in the passing game at tight end. The wide receivers are solid, perhaps better overall than a year ago, but not elite on the FBS level.
The offensive line remains solid, though a solid, SEC-level Ole Miss defensive front was tough to block.
The Wave offensive orchestra needs its conductor.
After a solid first half in which Tulane jumped out to a 17-7 lead and led 17-10 at halftime, the offense and Horton struggled, sputtered in the second half, producing just three points.
Horton finished just 15 of 37 (40.5%) for 231 yards with a touchdown and an interception and lost a fumble which resulted in a touchdown.
Makhi Hughes has emerged as the best running back, running low and running well behind his pads. Hughes carried 23 times for 92 yards and a score. True freshman Arnold Barnes got on the field and had two carries and we may see more of him moving forward.
Despite the final score, the Green Wave defense played well, holding the Rebels to just 89 yards rushing and just 1-of-13 third down conversions while sacking Jackson Dart four times despite playing without Corey Platt Jr., its leading tackler from the week one win over South Alabama.
The Tulane defense was asked to do too much and to play too many snaps in the latter stages of the second half. The final score for the Rebels was scoop-and-score on the fumble by Horton when he was sacked.
Tulane is 1-1.
That is exactly what was expected.
The Green Wave won as a home favorite over South Alabama and lost as a home underdog to Ole Miss.
Tulane was an underdog even had Pratt played.
Now comes the litmus test.
Tulane lost at home to Southern Miss a year ago. The revenge tour started shortly after the final whistle this past Saturday.
The Green Wave may well have to play without Pratt again this week.
Will Horton get the nod again or will Ibieta get the call? Perhaps both may get snaps.
Regardless of who plays quarterback, Tulane is a solid favorite, listed as an 11-point pick to beat the Golden Eagles.
That is the dilemma facing Willie Fritz, to play or not to play Pratt this week.
Pratt, no doubt, will again lobby Fritz hard to play. He is a bulldog, a competitor, tough as nails, and has played through injuries throughout his Tulane career.
Fritz made the tough decision to sit his star last week. It was the correct decision. Fritz faces the same decision this week. Pratt has a future in professional football.
However, Pratt has future still at Tulane, whether it is this week in Hattiesburg or some game after that when he returns. The Green Wave can still accomplish great things with their senior quarterback in 2023.
The thought process, on the surface, is that if Pratt does not play this week, you could likely rest him for the Nicholls game, a game which Tulane should win easily, based on talent and results to date.
As I stated frequently on my radio shows on NASH ICON 106.1 FM for months, the goal was to be 2-1 to be in position for another 10-win or better season.
The hope was to be 3-0 with the possibility of a 12-win or better season.
Tulane is on schedule and with the schedule to come, the Green Wave are still positioned well for a good if not very good or even special season. Here is hoping that Pratt gets the opportunity soon, in good health, to lead the Green Wave to a very good or even special season.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE 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 Sports Media Association, National Football…