Nick Montana works with Tulane’s first-team offense _lowres

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ-- Tulane Green Wave quarterback Nick Montana (11) warms up on the field as Tulane fans gather to cheer their team on during the opening season game against Georgia Tech in Tulane's new Yulman Stadium in New Orleans, La. Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014.


Tulane had two weeks to choose a starting quarterback, but coach Curtis Johnson declined to do so. An injury to incumbent starter Tanner Lee’s throwing shoulder during the Green Wave’s 31-6 loss to Rutgers, forced Johnson to re-open the position battle. Backups Nick Montana and Devin Powell, who led Tulane’s scuffling offense last season, were called up on take over the role if Lee is officially unable to compete. Considering Lee hasn’t practiced in full team drills since his injury and Montana has taken most first-team snaps, the odds are the senior will get the call come game time. Johnson declined to name a front-runner and said a decision is unlikely to be made until Saturday.


The action inside the opposing 20-yard line may not be particularly appealing on Saturday night. Two of the three worst red-zone offenses in the country face off in Yulman Stadium. Tulane (No. 123) has scored in just 10 of its 17 trips to the red zone this season, and has produced points just once in its past four appearances. Meanwhile, UConn (No. 125) has scored just three touchdowns from the red zone this season in 13 trips. If either team cashes in on those opportunities this week, it could cause a massive swing in the game.


After missing four of his first five field goals, none of which were longer than 36 yards, Tulane freshman kicker Andrew DiRocco is no longer the Green Wave’s clear-cut starter. Johnson said he worked out walk-on Steven Broccoli and newcomer Trevor Simms on field goals during practice and may turn to one of them against the Huskies. Johnson said he still has faith DiRocco will eventually become a reliable kicker for Tulane, but admitted it was time to see if any of the other legs available are more accurate than the true freshman’s.


Saturday marks Tulane’s first home game against a foe from the American Athletic Conference, a league the Green Wave joined this season. It is also the first time Tulane has ever faced UConn in football, the only first-time opponent on Tulane’s schedule this season. The only historical connection between the two programs comes from former Tulane University president and Yulman Stadium visionary Scott Cowen, who played freshman football for the Huskies in 1965.