Georgia Tech at Tulane: Four Downs _lowres

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Dennis Lausha, president of the Saints and the Pelicans, speaks during the dedication of Benson Field at Yulman Stadium Friday. He was joined by Darryl Berger, Tulane's chairman of the board, left, Rick Dixon, athletic director, and Michael Fitts, Tulane president.


Distractions are abundant this week at Tulane’s football facility and campus. The football program is facing its first ticket scarcity issue in almost 30 years, and pressure is mounting for the Green Wave to not only overcome its 0-1 record but to take advantage of a true home-field advantage. Tulane coach Curtis Johnson said the distractions this week haven’t taken their toll in practice and expects his team to block out the hoopla surrounding the opening of Yulman Stadium.


Day after day, Johnson has spoken about “assignment football” when preparing his team for the flexbone offense employed by Georgia Tech. Facing an offense predicated on misdirection, linebacker Nico Marley admitted Tulane’s typically aggressive style can work against it, and if a Green Wave defender fails to stick with his assigned ball carrier, allowing the dives, traps, keepers and option pitches turn into big gains quickly.


Andrew DiRocco’s missed 21-yard field goal in the final regulation minutes of Tulane’s 38-31 double-overtime loss to Tulsa has loomed over the Green Wave all week. Although DiRocco bounced back to make a 30-yarder in overtime, Tulane may opt to use Steven Broccoli in short-yardage situations. Defensive end Ade Aruna kicked off three times but strained his groin, leaving the spot potentially open to newcomer Trevor Simms, a baseball player who joined the football team this week.

4. New Stuff for 2014

Tulane’s fresh-faced backfield is now a known commodity. Redshirt freshman Sherman Badie burst on the scene with an American Athletic Conference-record 215 yards in his first collegiate game, including gains of 90 and 73 yards. Redshirt freshman quarterback Tanner Lee threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns, vastly improving the Wave’s passing game from most of the 2013 season. Now, there is film for opponents to break down, and the pair will have to adjust as Georgia Tech gameplans for them.