Location: Legion Field - Birmingham, AL
Date: Saturday, September 11
Time: 12:00 p.m. CT
Records: Tulane 0-1 (0-0 AAC), Morgan State 0-1 (0-0 MEAC)
Betting Line: No Line
All-Time Series: NA
Last Meeting: First Meeting
Quick Hits: Tulane came ever-so-close to pulling off the biggest upset in program history last week at Oklahoma in spite of all that has gone on outside the football field. Hurricane Ida’s rampage throughout Louisiana has made it so, once again, the Green Wave cannot play at home as they were originally supposed to this weekend. Legion Field in Alabama will play host this Saturday’s game.
Morgan State lost last weekend to Towson and failed to score any points in doing so. The Bears are led by second-year head coach Tyrone Wheatley and have historically struggled with FBS and non-conference opponents.
From Tulane’s Perspective: Let’s start by talking about that Green Wave defense and, more specifically, that secondary. Coming into this season the back end was perhaps Tulane’s biggest unknown on defense but if last week was any indication for the rest of the year, they’ll be just fine. Safety Macon Clark is a stud. This kid picked off Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler once last week but legitimately could have done it three times had it not been for a controversial DPI call. The junior was all over the field in the first game, racking up five tackles. Morgan State tried out a few QBs last week including Duce Taylor and Neil Boudreau but it might not matter who’s throwing the passes with #37 lurking in the secondary.
Clark is only one of several Tulane DBs who established themselves in the opener. Freshman Jadon Canady also registered an interception off Rattler and had six tackles of his own. Larry Brooks was in on four tackles and delivered some nasty shots. Tulane has some playmakers on that back end and they could be primed for a big day against a Bears team that was only able to muster up 79 passing yards in their first contest.
The Wave also has a stacked linebacking corps that looks to make life difficult on the Bears' offense. Nick Anderson, who left last week’s game with cramping, is expected to be a full go on Saturday as is Dorian Williams. The duo combined for 16 tackles (1.5 for loss) in Week 1 and are poised to be the team’s leading tacklers by season’s end.
Then there are big boys up front. Jefferey Johnson can disrupt the backfield and make it look easy while freshman Angelo Anderson is starting to solidify himself as a playmaker on the line. All of this is bad news for Morgan State who put up even fewer rushing yards than they did passing yards against Towson.
Turning to Tulane’s own offense, what more can we say about quarterback Michael Pratt? Some of our staff picked him to be the AAC’s breakout player of the year last month and with his first performance of 2021, it’s easy to see why. Pratt outdueled Rattler in nearly every major passing category last week all while getting beat up by Oklahoma’s star-studded defensive line. His four total touchdowns and 296 passing yards made a statement.
It helps when you’ve got guys like Tyrick James catching the ball. James nearly had 100 receiving yards on six catches against the Sooners. He was often Pratt’s go-to guy on third and fourth down and was a big reason why Tulane was able to keep the chains moving.
Someone else that Pratt turned to often in the opener was freshman Shae Wyatt. Wyatt, making his first start for the Green Wave, caught five passes for 58 yards last week and could be another viable option the passing attack. His 6’1, 190-lb frame allowed him to elevate and make some big-time catches last week and it’s exciting to think about what he could do against the Bears who surrendered 278 passing yards a week ago.
Then there are the Watts brothers. Both Duece and Phat had a relatively quiet game in Norman but are still very dangerous playmakers. Last season Duece led the team with 512 receiving yards and six touchdowns while Phat averaged 12.8 yards per catch.
Cameron Carroll will handle the bulk of the work on the ground again. Despite having no rushing scores last week, Carroll did find the end zone twice on the receiving end of a couple of Pratt’s throws. He rushed for 741 yards in 2020 and now with Amare Jones and Stephon Huderson gone, he’ll be the one who sees most of the touches.
From Morgan State’s Perspective: This one could be rough. There’s a Green Wave team across the field who feels as though they could be 1-0 and you yourself are coming off a 31-0 shellacking. That’s not a recipe that instills a lot of confidence.
All hope is not lost, however. Perhaps the Bears' most promising playmaker will be veteran receiver Wesley Wolfolk. In 2019, the last full season for Morgan State, Wolfolk caught 22 passes for 385 yards and two touchdowns. Whether it be Taylor or Boudreau throwing, it’s a safe bet that Wolfolk will be a coveted target throughout the game.
On the ground, the Bears will have the talents of Virginia Tech transfer Terius Wheatley at their disposal. During his four years with the Hokies, Wheatley only saw action during the 2018 season but was able to rush for 121 yards and a score in that limited playing time. He will be joined in the running game by Jabriel Johnson and Romello Kimbrough.
Defensively, Morgan State will field linebacker Devan Hebron who finished 2019 with 39 total tackles (5.5 for loss), two sacks and an interception. Hebron can make things happen all over the field as just last week against Towson he notched five stops, 2.5 of which came for a loss and a sack. If the Bears are to have any hope of slowing down Tulane’s prolific offense, Hebron will need to have a monster game.
Final Thoughts: There’s no reason to believe this isn’t Tulane’s game to lose. Even though they won’t be in the friendly confines of Yulman Stadium for a second straight week, the Green Wave should have little problem with Morgan State. If the game gets out of hand early, expect Willie Fritz to be sparing with Pratt’s usage. Justin Ibieta could make an appearance as early as the third quarter if things are going according to plan. The Wave is poised to roll on Saturday.
Prediction: Tulane 48 - Morgan State 7