Bearcats fans should be excited about Desmond Ridder if they aren’t already.
Cincinnati’s freshman quarterback spent much of Saturday afternoon making Tulane’s defense look silly completing 15 of his 25 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. When he wasn’t throwing the ball around the field, he was using his legs. Ridder rushed for 65 yds and another touchdown en route to Cincy’s homecoming win.
Running back Michael Warren II also put on a show. He picked an opportune time in the second quarter to record a career-long 81 yard run for his 11th touchdown of the year (this was also the third longest in school history). Warren finished the day 123 yards on 18 carries.
As for the Green Wave, this was obviously not how they wanted to come out and perform after their improbable win over Memphis a week ago and the blame can’t be placed solely on the defense. There were plenty of special teams miscues and offensive hiccups that ended up costing Tulane down the stretch also.
When all was said and done, the Wave found themselves on the wrong end of a 37-21 score line but not for lack of opportunities. Cincinnati turned the ball over three times in the second half and yet Tulane was able to do nothing with those chances. It’s a good thing the Green Wave are headed into their bye week because after what we saw in Cincy there’s at least two weeks worth of work to do.
The Good: Tulane showed the encouraging ability to respond when the Bearcats did something big. Early in the second quarter when quarterback Jonathan Banks was bottled up on fourth down, the Wave defense answered by holding Cincinnati on fourth and one. Later in the same quarter Ridder found receiver Kahlil Lewis for a 25-yd touchdown. Tulane freshman Amare Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 64 yards and set up a Darius Bradwell touchdown. Even when Terren Encalade coughed it up later in the third, the Green Wave D forced and recovered a fumble on the very next play. Tulane just wasn’t able to trade punches all game long.
The Bad: Just for the sake of mixing it up we won’t harp on Green Wave penalties again (although we could; 12 of them this time for 90 yards). Third down was not kind to the Wave and it wasn’t necessarily just a poor conversion percentage that needs to change. It was more so the difficulty of the third down situations they found themselves in. Of the 15 tries Tulane attempted, only three of them were less than six yards to go. That resulted in a dismal 20% success rate (3/15).
The Ugly: There were plenty of mistakes to go around for the Green Wave. Cincinnati was able to bust through and block a punt deep in Tulane territory. Returnman Jacob Robertson muffed a kick while falling backwards that the Wave was lucky to recover. And Encalade, as mentioned earlier, fumbled the ball after a nice a catch. Those sorts of things will almost always come at the expense of a win and they certainly did this time.
The Silver Lining: Justin McMillan looked solid and got to see a good amount of game time. He went 11-for-26, 127 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. It’s still unclear if we are seeing the beginning of a changing of the guard at QB in New Orleans but if we are, McMillan certainly seems to be a viable option.
Tulane (2-4) heads into their week off and goes back to the drawing board before the SMU Mustangs come to town. As far as the American is concerned it isn’t quite time to stick a fork in them yet as 1-1 in conference play isn’t necessarily a death sentence. But with road games against Houston and South Florida still left on the schedule, there has to be a sense of uneasiness starting to settle in for Wave fans. A win against SMU in two weeks is a must if Tulane wishes to keep their fading bowl hopes alive.