The good news: assuming Memphis beats Tulsa on Friday, this is the only time Tulane will not face an undefeated team in the last four weeks of October. The bad news: Tulane’s opponent, Navy, runs the same triple-option offense as Georgia Tech, which pounded the Green Wave 65-10 in September, and the Midshipmen’s only loss was a tight one at Notre Dame. Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who left the Notre Dame game with a knee injury in the third quarter, is expected to play after a fortuitous open date to get healthy. He is five rushing touchdowns away from breaking the NCAA career record of 77. Tulane has the talent up front on defense to slow down Navy’s potent rushing game (335.4 yard-average), but the Wave needs to play with much more discipline than it has showed thus far.
In another ugly performance, Tulane was no match for Houston in a 42-7 loss and would have been shut out if not for a perfectly executed fake punt in the second quarter. With regular starting quarterback Tanner Lee sidelined with a concussion, a bad offense became even worse behind the rudderless direction of Devin Powell, who threw low and high of his receivers repeatedly and then blamed it on an arm bruise he sustained in the first quarter. The defense was OK but could not contain quarterback Greg Ward Jr. or wide receiver/punt returner Demarcus Ayers, who clearly were the two fastest players on the field.
It’s hard to find one, but let’s credit upback Rob Kelley for his 43-yard gain on the fake punt. After handing off to Marshall Wadleigh for a game-changing fake punt against UCF, he took the snap on fourth-and-11 from the Houston 41, faked a handoff to Jarrod Franklin and ran untouched over the left side before getting tackled just short of the goal line. Honorable mention goes to middle linebacker Eric Thomas, who led the Wave in tackles for the second straight week with 11.
“I had a little bruise on my arm. I was doing what I can.”
— Powell, explaining his 11-for-28 performance
Keep an eye on
The defensive line. Tulane’s most talented unit lost its composure against Houston, getting several penalties for personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct that created friction with coach Curtis Johnson. The Cougars were down four offensive line starters from the beginning of the year for most of the game, and the front four failed to capitalize. Tanzel Smart, a frequently dominant interior lineman, had one tackle. These guys have to play with focus and composure against Navy or it could get ugly — again.
Navy has thrown 34 passes through five games. … Tulane sophomore Sean Wilson, who has been moved to end from tackle, started and had a career-high seven stops against Houston. … Sophomore Dontrell Hilliard is the Wave’s leading rusher with 241 yards, meaning no one is on pace for 500. … Tulane ranks 123rd out of 127 FBS teams in rushing (98.5 ypg) and total offense (294.7) and 107th in passing efficiency. … Tulane had zero turnovers for only the second time in the past two years (Rutgers 2014) but has been outscored 73-13 in those games.