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USF vs. Tulane: Game Preview

Tulane looks to get back on track, while USF looks to break a NCAA record

Tulane v Florida International Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Date: Saturday, October 21

Kickoff: 7:00p.m. EST

Location: Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana

TV: ESPN2

Line: -12 USF

Series Record: This is the first ever meeting between the teams


USF Outlook

This is probably going to be the toughest game USF has played yet, as a triple-option team is very tough to defend. USF was successful last year against Navy in defending the triple-option, and this year’s players are playing much better.

Offensively, the approach won’t change. The coaching staff seems pretty adamant about not getting most of their playbook on film. USF will continue to be a run first team with plenty of read-options. Flowers will throw the ball as needed, but I am expecting USF to stick with running the football against a Tulane team that is allowing almost 200 yards on the ground. The three headed monster of Quinton Flowers, D’Ernest Johnson, and Darius Tice will lead an offensive explosion that Tulane is not ready for.

Defensively, it will be a lot tougher. FIU did a great job at defending Tulane’s triple-option attack. I’m assuming though that Willie Fritz will make some adjustments, as they have shown the capability of putting up points (ex. the Tulsa game). USF probably won’t be able to put on the dominating performance that they did last week against Cincinnati, but I am expecting them to not allow Tulane to take control of the game.

Keys:

  1. Defending the triple-option. This will be the biggest point of emphasis this week. USF will score enough points to win. They have done so in the last 23 games, and I have no reason to believe that will stop at Tulane. USF has been very good on defense this season, but this is a different animal. USF has to be very disciplined this week.
  2. The run game has to be huge. I have come to expect that USF will rush for huge yardage. This week it has to be. Tulane seems to have a poor defense against the run as they have allowed those 200 yards per game on the ground. Tulane hasn’t seen this kind of elite athleticism this season, so I am expecting the run game to be huge.
  3. Get touchdowns instead of field goals! We have seen it too much this season. USF has the same great players and is still constantly getting in the red zone. The difference between this year and last year is simply touchdowns versus field goals. If you take last week’s game and give USF two touchdowns instead of two of the four field goals made, USF scores 41 points instead of 33. USF has to start getting those touchdowns instead of field goals if they want to move up in the polls. It has to start this game.

Tulane

Outlook: Tulane is attempting to bounce back following a decidedly poor showing in a loss last week. The Green Wave offense was one-dimensional and though Tulane did manage to rush for over 200 yards, the Wave struggled to sustain drives. Meanwhile the defense uncharacteristically missed a ton of tackles for the first time this season. Coach Fritz and his staff now face the monumental job of trying to beat the 16th ranked team in the nation.

Tulane Offense: The Green Wave’s offense is operated by junior quarterback Jonathan Banks. So far this season he has passed for 502 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 267 yards and three scores. He is joined in the backfield by Dontrell Hilliard (607 yards eight TDs), Sherman Badie (244 yards one TD), Darius Bradwell (223 yards two TDs) and Stephon Huderson (70 yards one TD). Tulane’s primary mode of moving the ball is on the ground but they need more from the receiving corps if Willie Fritz’s offense is going to operate at peak efficiency. So far this season Terren Encalade is the only wide receiver with double digit receptions (15) and triple digit yards (218). The offensive line has been much improved during the course of the season, but must be more consistent if Tulane is to pull the upset.

Tulane Defense: Defensively the Green Wave have played well most of the season, other than a rough 56-point outing versus Oklahoma. the Wave defense has not given up more than 28 points in a contest. Tulane has playmakers on every level with defensive end Ade Aruna (three sacks), linebacker Rae Juan Marbley (52 tackles, two sacks) and cornerback Parry Nickerson (33 tackles, three INTs). Defensive coordinator Jack Curtis’ charges also generate a ton of turnovers, with four fumbles recovered and seven interceptions midway through the season.

Of note: This game marks the return of former Tulane quarterback and now USF running backs coach Shaun King. King was the offensive leader of Tulane’s 1998 team which compiled a 12-0 record, won the Conference USA title and defeated BYU in the ‘98 Liberty Bowl earning a #7 ranking in the final AP poll that year. King, who finished 10th in the Heisman balloting that year, set an NCAA record for completion percentage and was the first player to pass for 300 yards and rush for over 100 yards in the same game.

Final Prediction

Although USF is capable of putting up a ton of points, we should keep in mind that both teams are at their best when they run the football. That means the clock is going to continually run and there is a chance that not as many points go up.

Although that is a possibility, I do not think that will happen. Especially because USF has some huge motivation though to score 30+ points again, as they would set the record for the most consecutive 30+ point games. I think USF will win convincingly, as the quest for perfection continues.

USF 38 Tulane 17