Last December Tulane head coach Willie Fritz decided that a change was needed on the Green Wave’’s offense. It was one of several that Fritz deemed necessary in 2018 but this one didn’t require a player shuffle. Tulane had already done that, appointing LSU-transfer Justin McMillan the new signal caller earlier in the year. No, this time it was a behind-the-scenes move that may impact the Wave for seasons to come. See, when Fritz relieved then-offensive coordinator Doug Ruse of his duties, he only interviewed one candidate for his replacement. Enter Will Hall.
Hall was on Tulane’s radar simply because of his proximity to the program. He had been part of AAC-rival Memphis’ staff last season, serving as the Tigers’ tight ends coach. As of late (excluding last year) Memphis has gotten the better of Fritz’s Wave and it really hasn’t been close. Since Fritz’s first season with Tulane in 2016, Memphis has gone 2-1 against the Green Wave and has scored an average of nearly 35 points in those games. It only made sense that Fritz would at least try and hire a guy from that other sideline.
Hall was just one cog in the finely-tuned machine that was the Tigers offense last season. They averaged well over 500 yards per game last season and beat opponents by 27.8 points per contest, second in the conference only to UCF. In fact, the only real offensive hiccup they experienced was to the Green Wave in a shocking 16-point loss last September.
It wasn’t those staggering numbers, though, that drew Fritz in Hall’s direction. They certainly didn’t hurt but again, Hall was only one piece in that unit. He caught Fritz’s attention for a very different reason.
Last year, Tulane was in the bottom third of FBS teams in terms of plays per game, coming in at just 68.2. Only 43 teams had a lower average. This was only a slight rise from the 68.0 in 2017. Hall will be the key to changing that.
“We want to be able to play really, really fast,” Hall said in an interview shortly after his hiring, “we’ll build this thing from day one on going as fast as you can possibly go.”
If he stays true to that mindset this summer and going into fall, it’s almost scary to think about what this Tulane offense could be in 2019. Fritz has already branded the Wave as a run-first team whose bread and butter is the triple-option attack but pair that with an up-tempo approach and we may be in for something that hasn’t been seen in Tulane since the days of Shaun King and Tommy Bowden.
“[The offense] is definitely going to be primarily what he’s done,” said Fritz. “I’ve done a lot more of the triple-option stuff and we’ll try to engrain that into what he’s doing.”
That could mean that opposing teams this fall may be in for a rough time. Defending a well-executed triple-option attack is hard enough as is but combine that with the blazing speed Hall intends to bring in... yikes. Last year, when Tulane ran more than 70 plays they went 4-2 as opposed to 3-4 when they didn’t.
There’s something to be said for allowing a defense as little time as possible to prepare for the next play.
And for anyone worried that Tulane’s core philosophy of ground and pound will change, breathe easy. Hall has confirmed that his offense will be centered on running the ball just as Fritz has established.
“You’ve got to be able to run,” said Hall. “Nobody’s putting a ring on their finger without running and then being very efficient in the passing game,”
So, to sum up, expect to see a lot more plays run in Tulane this season and count on the majority coming on the ground. Last season the Wave ran 917 total plays. We’ll come back to that number when this season wraps up just to see how much of a jump there is.
Now are we saying that the Green Wave will be Chip Kelley’s Oregon 2.0? Not at all. But we can almost guarantee that there will be drastically less time between plays this fall. The no-huddle is going to be used a lot more than Wave fans have seen as of late. We would bet that Tulane’s average time of possession (31:55 in 2018) goes down but the plays, and hopefully wins, will increase thanks to Hall.