"They lost a tough one in double overtime, a game they should have won," said the former UCLA head coach in his fourth season with the Green Wave. "They were ahead 31-10 and wound up losing 49-48. They didn't have one penalty in the football game - not one penalty - but they had three turnovers. Jacksonville State didn't have any turnovers so that was the name of the game right there."
Tulane won one it should have, but barely. The Green Wave opened on Thursday, Sept. 2, also in the Louisiana Superdome with a 27-21 victory against neighborhood foe Southeastern Louisiana.
"Last week was a good win for us," Toledo said. "It's always good to start out the season on a good note, so we were pleased with that. I was happy for the players because they worked extremely hard to get to this point and have an opportunity to win that first game. It was our first opening-game win since 2002, so that was pretty good for us."
Toledo said there were some obvious areas in which the Wave must improve.
"No. 1 we had way too many penalties," he said. "We had nine penalties for 79 yards, and our quarterback (third-year sophomore Ryan Griffin) turned the ball over twice - he had a fumble and he threw an interception. The good thing is we ended up getting four takeaways. I talked to the team the night before the game and we talked about field position. The turnovers and the field position I talked to them about really accounted for 17 points. I've talked about penalties, turnovers and field position and it all showed up in the game."
Freshman TU running back Orleans Darkwa ran for 75 yards and three touchdowns. The game came down to the final seconds when Tulane senior defensive tackle Justin Adams sacked Lions' quarterback Tyler Beatty to clinch the victory.
Darkwa became the first true freshman to score an offensive touchdown in a Tulane season-opener since fullback Darlvon Bracy scored on a one-yard plunge at Ole Miss on Sept. 2, 2000. Toledo is impressed with his freshman running back.
"He's a little bit more mature than most freshmen," Toledo said. "If you talk to him, he's very intelligent, he's very composed, he doesn't get rattled, he's got a lot of confidence in his ability, and he's very smart. He knows the offense. He's done a great job and he does it all. He can run, he can catch, he can block, he returns kicks. He's a special kid and we're excited to have him in this program."
Ole Miss offense in brief: The Ole Miss offense was in high gear early in its loss to JSU last weekend. The Rebels opened up a 14-0 lead behind the efficient passing of Nathan Stanley, who had three touchdown tosses on the day. The lead was 31-10, as Toledo mentioned, but something happened on the way to victory. One thing was the offense became inept. With the duo of Stanley and Jeremiah Masoli leading the attack, the Rebs only scored three points in the third and fourth quarters – this after scoring points on five of their first six offensive possessions in the opening half. Look for more Masoli against Tulane. It was too important for the Rebels to get him to campus for the senior former Oregon Duck Heisman candidate not to play an expanded role. The Rebels are behind the eight-ball, so to speak, with an unfathomable loss to an FCS team on the ledger. With starting lineman Rishaw Johnson gone and Josh Tatum in his place, the Rebels have less depth on the OL. With backs running hard and Masoli potentially more at the controls, Ole Miss should be able to put points on the scoreboard. Don't forget, however, the Rebs did score 34 in regulation last week. It's just that 31 of them came in the first two periods.
Ole Miss defense in brief: Fon Ingram is back after being out with an injury. Kentrell Lockett is back after being out with an irregular heartbeat. Those two being back on the field can only mean good things for an Ole Miss defense that struggled at times, especially in the second half, against the Gamecocks last week. Tulane likes to control the football, the feeling from its coaches that it's the best chance for victory. The Green Wave opened the SLU game with a 16-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that chewed 8:25 off the clock. They'll try to keep it on the ground and use some clock against the Rebels. Darkwa will be a big part of that as last week he had three rushing touchdowns in the opener. The Rebels hopefully learned some lessons from last week's upset. "We have to evaluate our character and determine how badly we really want it," defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix said a few days ago. "If they are the men I think they are, they will come out and respond. We'll expect to go out the next game and perform at a high level from the beginning until the end of the game. We will learn how to finish. Next time we'll respond in a positive fashion."
Ole Miss wins if...the Rebels play like they are supposed to play. That was exactly the same intro to this question last week prior to the JSU game. The Rebels, as all could plainly see, did not play as they were supposed to against the Gamecocks. Three UM turnovers by the offense, and none forced by the defense. If the Rebels lose to Tulane, it will be because they don't play well, not because they lose any concentration or focus. They saw exactly what that will get them against a team they should beat last weekend.
Tulane pulls the upset if...Let's be honest. After all that's happened to the Rebels in the past seven days, I don't see this happening. Of course to be fair, I didn't see it happening last week either. But at some point, while you don't ever want to forget what happened against JSU because it taught so many lessons, you have to move on. Look for the Rebels to have moved on in a determined fashion; thus eliminating any chance for a second consecutive upset loss. Toledo is concerned Ole Miss will be regrouped in a bigtime way. "They've got their backs against the wall," he said. "I would have loved to see them win big (against JSU), to be honest."
Tulane offensive player to watch: No doubt, freshman RB Orleans Darkwa was the workhorse for the Greenies against the Lions in week one, and he will be against the Rebels in week two. Tulane has other weapons, but he will be the main showcase of the TU offense Saturday night. Toledo is impressed with the Nashville, Tenn., freshman. "He's phenomenal. We had a little highlight film yesterday that our video guys put together of big plays. Of course, it showed him scoring the touchdowns. He scored a touchdown and just handed the ball to the official. I told him, `Man, it looks like you've done that a bunch of times before.' He just has a lot of poise. He's not one of those guys that's going to bring a lot of attention to himself."
Tulane defensive player to watch: Sophomore linebacker Trent Mackey played in his first game as a Green Wave last week and led the team with 13 tackles, including two for lost yardage and also forced a fumble. "He brings some excitement to us on defense," Toledo said of Mackey, who is a cousin of Ole Miss' Randall Mackey and Damien Jackson. "He makes plays. He gets guys fired up because he's always around the football. He's got a great nose for the football. He gets guys pretty emotional."
Noteworthy: Ole Miss and Tulane have been playing football since 1893, which was the first season for each school to field a team on the gridiron. Ole Miss leads the alltime series 41-28 and has nine straight wins in the series...Tulane hasn't beaten a Southeastern Conference school since defeating Mississippi State in Starkville 32-29 in 2006. The Green Wave hasn't won a home game against an SEC team since it beat Mississippi State 31-28 in 2003...Ole Miss was Tulane's last opponent in Tulane Stadium on campus, a game the Rebels won to end the 1974 season...Ole Miss was Tulane's first-ever opponent in the Louisiana Superdome to open the 1975 season, a Green Wave win...Only LSU has played Tulane more than Ole Miss. The Green Wave and Tigers have played 98 times. This is the 70th meeting for the Greenies and Rebels.