Things went about how we thought they would for the Wave in Alabama.
Early on it appeared that Tulane had really come to make some noise against Auburn though. After forcing an opening three-and-out, the Greenies marched right down the field and tacked on a field goal thanks to Merek Glover’s 44-yard boot. Shortly after Auburn would cough the ball up and the Green Wave defense would recover.
From there, however, things started to go downhill for Willie Fritz’s team. The next six Tulane drives ended with punts before they finally snagged three more points just before half. Glover’s second field goal, a 32-yard kick, would be the final points the Wave scored all evening.
Despite recovering two fumbles, Tulane’s defense couldn’t keep Bo Nix and the Tigers offense at bay. Nix finished the night with 207 passing yards and a touchdown.
Running back JaTarvious Whitlow was Aubrun’s main workhorse on the ground, racking up 96 yards on 23 carries and finding the end zone once. He accounted for a good chunk of the Tigers’ 172 total rush yards.
Tulane’s defense should be proud of their gallant effort against an Auburn offense that actually put up more points and total yards against Oregon. Safety Chase Kuerschen led the Wave in tackles with seven while as a unit they recorded five tackles for loss. The Greenies actually won the turnover battle also, taking the ball away twice.
Offensively things were much quieter. Justin McMillan closed his night with 103 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. Fritz’s committee of backs were bottled up for much of the evening with Corey Dauphine and Darius Bradwell only combining for 53 yards (17 carries). As a team, Tulane ran for 120 yards.
The Good: We should really take a close look at what the Wave’s defense was actually able to do to the Tigers. Auburn receivers scored two TDs against the Ducks in Week 1; they scored just one here. The Tigers also didn’t put the ball on the ground once in their first game and did so three times (all from Whitlow) against Tulane. See the pattern? The Green Wave D was making things happen and kept the team in a game that many thought would be over by halftime. Fritz has to be ecstatic about what he saw from the guys on that side of the ball against an SEC offense like Auburn’s.
The Bad: Penalties. Those of you who read my recaps last year should know where we’re going with this. It was a bugaboo that haunted the Wave for most of last season and it certainly appears to be alive and well again in early 2019. Tulane compiled 11 infractions on Saturday night totaling 80 yards. If they don’t get that issue cleaned up in a hurry, there could be some ugly results once conference play begins. There’ll be no room for mistakes like that against teams like Houston, Memphis or UCF.
The Ugly: Tulane’s offense was just... dead on Saturday, at least compared to the onslaught we saw in their first contest. Yes, I realize Auburn was a completely different monster than FIU but still, they failed to score even one touchdown. As bad as last year’s Ohio State loss was, they even found the end zone once in that blowout. Going 2-of-15 on third down certainly didn’t help the cause and neither did 10-for-34 passing. All in all, it was just one of those throw-away-the-tape kind of performances.
Up Next: Tulane will return home next Saturday to face the FCS’s Missouri State Bears. This will be the Bears’ (0-1) first game since a 37-23 season-opening loss at Northern Arizona on August 29th.