Here are a few match ups and players to keep an eye on tomorrow when Tulane faces off against Tulsa at 11:00 AM (CT).
Tulsa QB Cody Green: Last week against Iowa State Green threw 49 passes and completed just 23 of those for 198 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He has the job of replacing a QB who statistically ranks 2nd in program history in G.J. Kinne. Green and Kinne do have one thing in common, however - they both transferred from BCS conference teams with Kinne coming from Texas and Green from Nebraska. It will be tough to replicate Kinne's success but it would not be shocking to see Green put up a more noteworthy effort on Saturday with it being both their home and conference opener.
Tulsa RB/HB Willie Carter: Last year he lead Tulsa in receptions with 61 but he only snagged 1 ball for 0 yards last week. Head Coach Bill Blankenship spoke with the media and stated bluntly that "we will be going to Willie Carter again this week" despite his drops and general ineffectiveness last week.
Tulsa's WRs vs. Tulane's DBs: Tulsa took a big hit to their offense when leading WR Bryan Burnham suffered a season ending ACL injury. Who steps up to take his place is still an unknown, but this matchup will still be worth watching. Tulane's youthful defensive backfield played solidly despite their inexperience against Rutgers. How much Tulsa tests the young guys and how they respond to their first road game will be key for Tulane.
Tulane's LBs vs. Tulsa's Run Game: Tulsa does like to get the ball moving on the ground, often using the perimeter to get in space and challenge the DBs and OLBs to make a play. This is a completely different style than the Green Wave saw against Rutgers who likes to run between the tackles behind their big offensive line. Now that the OLBs will have to play more sideline to sideline they will have to play a different sort of game that will test their speed.
Tulane's Run Game/Offensive Line: It would be an understatement to say these units struggled against Rutgers. Gaining just 8 yards on 16 attempts does not do Tulane any favors nor does it make Ryan Griffin's job any easier. None of the running backs really shined, and even if the team did have Orleans Darkwa available it did not seem like the offensive line could create any holes. With Darkwa likely not playing this week Rob Kelley, Dante Butler, Derrick Strozier, and perhaps even Josh Rounds need to get something going.
As seen in practice this week the coaches will try out freshman Alex Paul at left guard while Adam Skidmore will slide over to right guard. Rio Mares is moved out of the starting lineup but still figures to still see action. Coach Johnson mentioned penalties as a big factor as to why they could not get anything going on the ground, which leads into my next point -
Will Tulane Be More Disciplined?: The 11 penalties for 120 yards was a killer for any momentum the offense or defense were trying to build. Surely this is an area for improvement and we will see how and if the coaches have remedied this problem.
Ryan Griffin and Ryan Grant: The pair looked like they had nice chemistry last week, connecting for 6 competitions and 110 yards. A couple of those catches were for big first downs. Will their connection continue or will another Wave WR step up?
RBs as Receiving Threats: Last week Tulane's RBs caught a combined 18 balls for 94 yards and 1 TD. The team worked a lot of utilizing their RBs in this way during camp and it appears to be translating to the games. While some of those receptions can be chalked up to being dump offs, the team still had pass plays designed for Strozier (6 rec., 40 yards) and Kelley (7 rec., 37 yards, 1 rec. TD). If the running game continues to struggle these passes might supplant the ground game.
Tulane QB Devin Powell: Coach Johnson said in practice this week that Powell might see some time in a particular package. Whether that means time during a blowout or during a moment of consequence is unknown, but it is still worth watching.
Tulane at Tulsa: What to Watch For
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