Navy 31, Tulane 14: Guerry Smith’s three and out _lowres

Associated Press photo by NICK WASS -- Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds runs the ball against Tulane defensive end Ade Aruna during the first half of Saturday's game in Annapolis, Md.

1. WHAT WE LEARNED

Houston coach Tom Herman was not exaggerating last week when he said Tulane had the best defensive front his team had faced all year. With an excellent scheme featuring three defensive tackles on every down, the Green Wave shut down Navy’s running game like no team in the past two years. Ultimately, it didn’t matter because the Wave is too weak everywhere else, but the defense played with tremendous intensity and smarts. It bodes well for the winnable final four games of the season.

2. TRENDING NOW

Tanner Lee’s promise. Tulane has five games left to develop a functional offense, and Lee is the linchpin. Aside from one late forced interception, he made good decisions, finishing 22 of 31 for 205 yards, and his fumble near the goal line came on a play that never should have been called. He needs to build on this performance as Tulane faces a series of vulnerable defenses the rest of the way. If his teammates cut down on the silly penalties and the coaches help him with better calls — two big ifs — Tulane will start winning some games.

3. FINAL THOUGHTS

There was nothing encouraging in Tulane’s blowout losses to Duke, Georgia Tech, Temple and Houston. Nothing. Finally, the Wave has something to build on down the stretch after winning the battle with Navy up front. Hanging with Memphis next Saturday will be a tall task, but the schedule lightens the rest of the way. If the defense plays with this much intensity and the offensive line gives Lee this much time — he was not sacked until the final minutes — the Wave might overcome its myriad weaknesses.