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Five Players to Watch - Tulane Green Wave

Demon Deacon Digest looks at five Tulane players to watch when the Green Wave invade BB&T Field Thursday night.

Triple option or not, expect heavy doses of the run game when Tulane, under first year head coach Willie Fritz, comes to visit Wake Forest Thursday night at BB&T Field.

Fritz heavily featured the run game during his four-year run at Sam Houston State, where he compiled a 40-15 record between 2010-2013.

While at Georgia Southern, where he went a combined 17-7 the last two years, Fritz utilized a triple option attack that racked up 363 yards rushing a game, tops in the country. Conversely, the Eagles were dead last in passing, with just 63.4 yards per game.

The Green Wave are installing a base offensive pistol formation for a spread offensive attack, but their main playmakers are in the backfield. Tulane doesn’t have a quarterback on its roster that’s completed a collegiate pass.

Here’s five Tulane players to watch:

Glen Cuiellette - Redshirt Sophomore Quarterback - 6-foot-0, 215 pounds

Cuiellette won the starting job in a three-way competition, but won’t be the only Green Wave quarterback to see the field. Fritz has indicated two signal callers will play, but hasn’t said yet which of the true freshman, Johnathan Brantley or Darius Bradwell, will play.

Cuiellette has taken just one collegiate snap in his career — a kneel down, but won the job because he was considered the best passer of the trio. He was a two-star recruit from Mandeville High in Madisonville, Louisiana. He passed for 2,128 yards and 25 touchdowns his senior season, while rushing for 344 yards and five scores.

Nico Marley - Senior Linebacker - 5-foot-8, 200 pounds

Marley led the Green Wave last season with 82 tackles and was tied for second on the squad with 13 tackles for loss. Marley has started 36 games in his collegiate career, coming off the bench just once in three years.

He’s fourth in program history with 36.5 career tackles for loss, and has accumulated 231 total tackles through the end of his junior season. Curious if he can hang with the bigger, faster, stronger athletes in the ACC? He had 15 tackles in the season opener last year at Duke.

Dontrell Hilliard - Junior Running Back - 6-foot-0, 200 pounds

Hilliard led the Green Wave in all-purpose yards (913) and rushing yardage (646) last season. One would expect both those numbers to spike with the increased reliance on the running game under Fritz.

Has 1,098 career yards rushing on 212 carries and nine scores at Tulane. Hilliard was a two-star prospect at Scotlandville High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he rushed for more than 2,000 yards combined his junior and senior seasons.

Ade Aruna - Redshirt Junior Defensive End - 6-foot-6, 265 pounds

The Deacs allowed 48 sacks in 2014 and another 40 last season. If they want to continue moving forward offensively, they will have to keep the quarterbacks off their back and create holes to establish the running game.

That’s why Aruna is a key figure to watch. With the graduation of Royce LaFrance, Aruna becomes the dominant Green Wave pass rush threat. He was second on the team with three sacks last year, and had five tackles for loss.

Sherman Badie - Redshirt Junior Running Back - 6-foot-0, 200 pounds

Badie was second on the team in all-purpose yards (905), with an almost equal three-way split between rushing (310), kick returns (311) and receiving (284). With the spread or even potential triple option offense the Green Wave will employ, look for Badie to get even more opportunities to make plays.

Badie averaged 20.7 yards per kickoff return last season, and will likely be at the top of the depth chart there this year as well.


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