Tulane didn't get off to the start it wanted on Saturday night.
Then the Green Wave realized it was Maine on the other sideline — thankfully not Duke or Georgia Tech — and went to work.
Behind its best offensive performance since last year's opening game, Tulane stomped the Black Bears 38-7. It was a much needed win for the Green Wave as it heads into the bye week 1-2 with a taste of victory on its lips.
"We had some rough spots, but being a team with little confidence (coming into the game), I thought we came out and did what we should've done," Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said. "We started a little bit slow ... but all of a sudden, these kids began to pick it up and they made a play here and there."
Through two possessions, Maine led 7-3. The Black Bears made it look easy on the first drive of the game, going 75 yards on seven plays while the Green Wave answered meekly with a field goal. If Tulane was going to make any kind of statement Saturday, its defense knew it had to step up.
"We did some things that were kind of selfish on that (first) possession," said senior safety Darion Monroe, who returned to the Green Wave after serving a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules. "We didn't do things the right way — how we play football. After that we got together and we talked, like a good defense does. We said, 'We can't make these mistakes. We got to do what we got to do.'"
From that moment onward, Monroe and Co. clamped down and put the ball back in the hands of the offense on a consistent basis. Usually that would mean short breaks on the sideline and a bunch of three-and-outs, but Tulane's offense finally decided to show up.
By halftime, the Green Wave rolled up 307 yards of total offense and put 21 more points on the scoreboard. Those 307 yards set a single-game high for Tulane this season and there were still 30 minutes to be played.
"It felt great knowing all the work and studying of film paid off," said sophomore running back Sherman Badie, who reeled off a 56-yard touchdown run that put the Green Wave up 17-7. "Coach always tells us to not worry about those past games."
Tulane's offense took its foot off the gas in the second half and only scored twice more. The defense, however, never let Maine breathe, forcing five turnovers (three on downs, two interceptions) and two punts.
"It was a must-win more for these kids, because they practice hard," Johnson said. "They really don't ever quit. I just wanted them to have some type of success to catapult them into the rest of the season because we haven't really had much success recently."
Notes — Tulane went 90 or more yards on a scoring drive twice on Saturday night. ... Sophomore quarterback Tanner Lee, who Johnson praised for being "poised," completed 16 of his 27 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown. ... Sophomore linebacker Zachery Harris led the team in tackles (seven), while six different players had a tackles behind the line of scrimmage.