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2020 Tulane Position Preview: Running Backs

Under Willie Fritz, the ground game has been Tulane’s bread and butter. Expect more of the same this season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 04 Armed Forces Bowl - Southern Miss v Tulane Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In 2019 Tulane’s rushing offense finished second in the AAC behind only Navy and for anyone who follows the Green Wave closely, that shouldn’t come as a shock. Head coach Willie Fritz brought a run-first mentality with him when he was hired back in 2016 and it’s shown in essentially every facet of Tulane’s game since. As another season approaches, Wave fans shouldn’t expect to see anything different.

As the Greenies bid farewell to their stellar back Darius Bradwell (who is currently a Los Angeles Charger) they turn their attention towards a healthy mix of seasoned vets and blooming youngsters in the hopes of maintaining the offense’s ground and pound identity.

No doubt much of the run game in 2020 will be centered around senior Corey Dauphine and junior Amare Jones. Dauphine, who is a former high school track star in Texas, was summoned over from Texas Tech by Fritz in 2017 and has become a staple in Tulane’s offense. Green Wave fans were delighted when the NCAA granted Dauphine a waiver to return for one final season earlier this year. Over the last two seasons he has put up 1,360 yards and 14 touchdowns on 196 carries.

Fritz couldn’t stress enough Dauphine’s value to the team stating, “Corey has played a large role within our offense for the past two years and I believe he is one of the most explosive players in the country.”

That sentiment seems to ring true because, even more impressive than his stat line, is his blistering speed. On several occasions Dauphine has gone quite literally untouched into the end zone on plays where the average back would have been tripped up. Just take a look at the highlights from his monster game against Nicholls State in 2018 below to catch a glimpse of what Fritz is talking about.

That sort of speed is exactly why Dauphine landed a spot on this year’s preseason AAC All-Conference Second-Team Offense. He’s as dangerous as they get when he has the ball and any touch could go the distance.

Then there’s the aforementioned Amare Jones. The 5-foot-11, 190 lb junior has served as more of a hybrid back for the Green Wave since coming onto the scene in 2018. Jones is almost as deadly when receiving as he is carrying. Last season he nabbed 34 receptions for 367 yards and two scores on top of the 374 rush yards and four touchdowns he had on the ground. In 2019 Jones appeared in all 13 of Tulane’s contests (starting in six) and served as a nice complimentary piece to Dauphine and Bradwel, averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

Perhaps his most valuable playing time, though, came on special teams. The elusive Jones racked up 873 total yards as a return specialist last season on kickoffs and punts alike. Expect to see another added dose of #11 on both Tulane’s offense and special teams again this fall.

One thing that has made the Green Wave’s rushing attack so productive is the “by-committee” nature it operates under. By no means will Jones and Dauphine be the only two that contribute on the ground in 2020. Moving down the depth chart we come to another upperclassman that we expect to see significant snaps this season: Stephon Huderson.

During his career Huderson has primarily served in a backup role, rushing for 642 total yards and two touchdowns over his three seasons. This year, however, he could get an increased work load. Like Jones, Huderson is no stranger to making plays in the passing game. He has 130 receiving yards and a TD catch to his name. Fritz may very well opt to use him in multiple ways this season.

Along with Huderson fans should expect to see an increased role for Cameron Carroll. The 6-foot, 230 lb Carroll played in 10 of Tulane’s 13 games in 2019 and rushed for well over 300 yards and had four touchdowns in those appearances. He has a nice amount of experience for being only a sophomore. Carroll averages just over five yards per carry and has a receiving touchdown under his belt as well.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 04 Armed Forces Bowl - Southern Miss v Tulane
Sophomore Cameron Carroll has already seen significant playing time, including an appearance in Tulane’s Armed Forces Bowl victory last season.
Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tulane’s backs are chalked full with youth and Carroll is just one of the many. Right alongside him is fellow sophomore Ygenio Booker who also appeared in 10 games last fall. While his 2019 stats don’t necessarily jump off the page, Booker did put together a nice first year for the Wave. He toted the ball 18 times for 94 yards and touchdown. On top of that he caught eight passes for another 74 yards and a score; certainly a solid season to build on.

Tyjae Spears will be yet another back to keep your eye on this season. The redshirt freshman played in just four contests last year but carried the ball 32 times for 192 yards. He had two touchdowns (one receiving) and averaged six yards per touch. You’ve got to believe those numbers will improve as he sees more action.

Finally there is James Poche and Andrew Zuckerman. Poche has not seen any playing time yet in his college career while Zuckerman is technically listed as a multi-use player at RB and WR. These two will be waiting in the wings and may see some snaps towards the back end of the season.

Our Depth Chart Prediction:

RB 1 - Corey Dauphine, Amare Jones

RB 2 - Stephon Huderson, Cameron Carroll

RB 3/4 - Tyjae Spears, Ygenio Booker, James Poche, Andrew Zuckerman