Tulane faces a must-win game against Southeastern Louisiana next Saturday at Yulman Stadium. The Green Wave cannot afford to fall to 0-3 coming off its first bowl bid in 11 years and with all the excitement of playing on campus for the first time since 1974. It never has lost to a team from the Football Championship Subdivision, but Southeastern Louisiana is no ordinary lower-level team. The Lions advanced to the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs last year and are loaded at the skill positions. Quarterback Bryan Bennett, an Oregon transfer, leads the offense. Southeastern Louisiana added Tulane transfer Jordan Batiste, a cornerback who led the Wave with seven sacks last season while drawing comparisons to Tyrann Mathieu. Southeastern Louisiana has outscored its first two opponents, Jacksonville and Southern Utah 85-17.
The Green Wave competed well against Georgia Tech but made too many mistakes to hang with the Yellow Jackets for four quarters, losing 38-21 after leading three times in the first half. Redshirt freshman Tanner Lee, coming off an outstanding debut at Tulsa, threw three interceptions before leaving in the third quarter with an undisclosed issue that coach Curtis Johnson vaguely referred to as heat-related and a “ding.” Andrew DiRocco missed a chip-shot field goal for the second consecutive week. Georgia Tech also blocked a punt and returned it to the 1-yard line. The Tulane defense struggled to get off the field, allowing the Yellow Jackets to convert on 10 of 12 third downs and every third-down opportunity in the second half.
Yulman Stadium. The first game at Tulane’s brand-new facility was everything the Wave hoped for in terms of atmosphere. The campus was packed earlier in the day. The stadium was electric at the opening kickoff and even louder when Tulane forced a fumble on the opening play and converted it into a quick touchdown. The difference between Yulman Stadium and the dead environment that greeted Tulane at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome the past 15 years was dramatic.
“The stadium is outstanding. The fans were magnificent, especially the student section.”
KEEP AN EYE ON
The health of Lee and running back Sherman Badie. Tulane’s two breakout performers in the opener became sideline observers against Georgia Tech after getting dinged up. Johnson said both of them should be ready for Southeastern Louisiana, and the Wave will need them. Without Lee’s aggressiveness and Badie’s elusiveness, Tulane would be vulnerable against anyone. It failed to score Saturday after they left. If they are not practicing early this week, the Wave could be in trouble.
Walk-on Trevor Simms, a baseball player who joined the football team last week, produced a touchback on the opening kickoff. His next three kicks all reached the goal line. … Linebacker Nico Marley, the 2013 Conference USA co-freshman of the year, led the Wave with 11 tackles. Defensive backs were second through fifth on that list. …. Georgia Tech rushed for 344 yards on 57 carries. Tulane’s leading rusher, Lazedrick Thompson, had 29 yards on eight attempts. … The teams each committed three turnovers, but Georgia Tech scored 21 points off the Wave’s miscues while Tulane managed only seven points off the Yellow Jackets’ mistakes.