PREVIEW: LSU to host optimistic Green Wave

Coming off an upset over Mississippi State in Starkville on Saturday, the Tulane Green Wave will look to play the role of spoiler against LSU this weekend when they visit Tiger Stadium for LSU's homecoming game.

Against Mississippi State, the Green Wave jumped out to a 14-point lead early in the second quarter and held on down the stretch, surviving a 22-point Bulldog fourth quarter, to walk away with the 32-29 win.

 

Tulane put up 427 total yards in the game, including 298 through the air, while allowing 350 yards by a team that got just 161 total yards in each of its first two games.

 

LSU enters the game looking to rebound from a disappointing 7-3 loss at the hands of Auburn last weekend. The Tigers have allowed just one touchdown this season and have outscored their opponents 93-13 so far in 2006.

 

The last meeting between the Green Wave and the Tigers came in the first week of the 2001 season, with LSU running away with a 48-17 victory.

 

Overall, LSU leads the series with Tulane 65-22-7.

 

Leading the Green Wave will be senior quarterback Lester Ricard, who started his college career at LSU but transferred to Tulane following his redshirt season in 2002. Ricard has thrown for 4,273 yards during his career with 42 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. The top performance of his career came against UAB in 2004, when he threw for 417 yards and six touchdowns.

 

Last week, he completed 16 of 23 passes for 304 yards and four scores in the win over the Bulldogs.

 

Aiding Ricard in the passing game is the experienced receiving corps of Brian King, Damarcus Davis, Kenneth Guidroz and Preston Brown, though Brown did not play against Mississippi State and his status for LSU is not known.

 

Brown and Guidroz were both regular starters a year ago, while King and Davis earned letters as active contributors to the effort. Davis has turned in the biggest performance by a wideout thus far this season, catching four passes for 89 yards and one touchdown against Mississippi State.

 

Also contributing to the receiving game this year has been redshirt freshman Jeremy Williams, who has made four catches for 42 yards.

 

Gabe Ratcliff and Jerome Landry have been splitting time at tight end, with Ratcliff hauling in four catches for 77 yards on the year and Landry recording three receptions for 20 yards against Mississippi State.

 

On the ground, the Green Wave is led by junior running back Matt Forte, who broke onto the scene in the second half of the 2004 season and has served in the starting role ever since. Through two games this year, Forte has rushed 41 times for 175 yards and one touchdown. He has also caught six passes for 74 yards and a touchdown.

 

In front of Forte at fullback is the 5-11, 203-pound Ade Tuyo, who serves primarily as a blocking back.

 

Tulane's offensive front line returns former starters at three of five positions, including guard Donald Madlock, center Michael Parenton and tackle Derek Rogers. Madlock started in the 2003 and 2004 seasons before missing last year with a shoulder injury, while Parenton served as a guard last year before making the switch to center in the spring.

 

New to the line this season are guard Aryan Barto and tackle Troy Kropog, who appeared in eight games last season.

 

On the other side of the ball, Tulane's secondary has reloaded almost entirely from a year ago after losing starters at both safeties and one cornerback spot. The unit has struggled through the early parts of this season, allowing 629 yards and three touchdowns through the air in their first two games.

 

The lone returnee in the secondary is cornerback Israel Route, who has tallied team bests 12 tackles, one forced fumble and one interception so far this year.

 

Filling in at the opposite corner has been senior Jeremy Foreman. Foreman saw time in all 11 games a year ago and has accumulated nine tackles and one interception in the '06 season's first two games.

 

Louis Thomas has gotten the nod this season at free safety, picking up eight tackles, while Josh Lumar, Joe Goosby and David Skehan have all cycled into the defensive backfield as well. Goosby is tied for the team lead with 12 tackles.

 

The linebacker unit also went through a big transition in the offseason, losing every starter they had from a year ago. Filling in the gaps have been James Dillard, Jordan Ellis, Evan Lee and Terrence Peterson. Ellis picked up 11 tackles against Houston in the season opener but did not play against Mississippi State.

 

Tulane's strength on defense in 2006 is found on the line, where they return six experienced players from a year ago, including starters Antonio Harris and Michael Purcell at the ends and Taurean Brown and Alvin Johnson at the tackles.

 

Though they all played significant roles last season, Harris has been the only one of the four to return as a starter this season as Avery Williams and Frank Morton have taken over the starting tackle spots, and Sean Carney and Billy Harrison have split the duties opposite Harris at end.

 

Harris has been the leader of the defensive front with six tackles and one sack this season, while Morton has pitched in with four tackles and a sack of his own.

 

On special teams, Tulane welcomes the return of punter Chris Beckman, who averaged 40.9 yards per punt last season, landing 15 kicks inside the 20-yard line. To date in 2006, Beckman has punted 11 times, averaging 45.8 yards.

 

Taking over the role of place-kicker for the Green Wave this year has been true freshman Ross Thevenot, who has been successful on three of his five extra point attempts and is 0-for-2 on field goals, with one of them being blocked.

 

In the return department, Fred Smith has been the team's biggest producer with four returns for a total of 63 yards. Ray Boudreaux has also contributed with three returns for 59 yards.


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