Tulane learned an important lesson last year when it played Duke: It’s mighty tough to walk without feet.
To put it simply, the Green Wave didn’t just shoot themselves in the foot against the Blue Devils. Tulane shot both of them, multiple times, and sawed them off at the joint.
Pardon the gruesome metaphor, but the Green Wave’s 47-13 loss wasn’t pretty.
Tulane coughed the ball up five times on Sept. 20, 2014. The Green Wave’s quarterbacks threw four interceptions (two were returned for touchdowns) and punt returner Teddy Veal put the ball on the ground in the third quarter.
Duke graciously accepted each of those gifts and exchanged them for 42 points. Yes, the Blue Devils scored 42 points off turnovers.
If you add the safety Tulane gave up late in the first quarter, Duke’s defense outscored the Green Wave 16-13 last year. There was no need for the Blue Devils’ offense to ever take the field.
Tulane hopes to avoid a similar fate in this year’s season opener when it hosts Duke at Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. local time (CST). This is the sixth time in the past seven years that the Green Wave open the season at Yulman Stadium.
The game will be broadcast live on the CBS Sports Network and streaming options for miscreants should be readily available. Vegas had Tulane as a 13.5-point underdog when the lines opened to bettors, but the line has since dropped to eight and is still falling.
Unlike the Blue Devils, the Green Wave returns some modicum of continuity from last year on offense. Tulane welcomes back quarterback Tanner Lee – who needs to prove he can make better decisions in the pocket (14 INTs last year) – as well as a strong stable of running backs and several wide receivers. Duke must break in a new quarterback, lost two of its top receivers and replaces two anchors on its offensive line.
But the question remains: Can the Green Wave’s offense hold onto the ball and better yet, make sure it finds its way into the end zone or through the uprights?
Defensively, the Green Wave has a few new faces in the secondary and it’s probably for the better that they won’t face a substantial aerial attack until conference play starts.
Season openers are always a crapshoot. This game is no different. Tulane and Duke have a lot of questions on both sides of the ball, but the Green Wave has more. Not only must Tulane show it can put some points on the scoreboard (generally a major need in most sports), but it needs to show it made strides in special teams. The Blue Devils should win and cover the spread (if you’re into that kind of thing). Duke 31, Tulane 17.