Houston, the second of four straight American Athletic Conference leaders Tulane will face in October, comes to Yulman Stadium for a Friday night special. The Green Wave stunned the Cougars 31-24 on the road last year, but the revenge angle is at the bottom of the list that should concern coach Curtis Johnson. New coach Tom Herman has guided 24th-ranked Houston to a 5-0 start and 232 points in five games. The Wave won’t recognize quarterback Greg Ward, a former wide receiver who threw four interception in their game last year. He has completed 72.5 percent of his passes with only one pick while running for 554 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Cougars defense is average, but no one has held them to fewer than 34 points yet.
After looking like the better team for a little more than a quarter, the Wave collapsed when adversity struck against Temple and lost 49-10. Tulane has been unimaginably bad on the road, but spare a thought for the defense, which forced Temple into 15 plays of negative yardage. That’s right, 15. And Tulane still got blown out. The offense was beyond anemic after scoring a touchdown to go ahead 10-7 in the second quarter, producing two more first downs until Tanner Lee was pulled in the fourth quarter. The running backs had no room to run, Lee had no time to throw and no one was open. Add another inexplicable punter error — freshman Zach Block channeled Peter Picerelli by dropping the ball for no reason — and it was a miserable day.
Linebacker Eric Thomas had a team-high eight tackles, including 2 ½ for loss. He also made a play that could have altered the final score dramatically if Tulane had not gotten unlucky. He blitzed from quarterback P.J. Walker’s blind side in the second quarter, sacked him and sent the ball flying backward. Unfortunately for the Wave, it squirted out of bounds. Otherwise, it would have been picked up and run back for a touchdown, giving Tulane a 17-7 lead. Instead, Temple gained 28 yards on a draw on second-and-29 and drove to go ahead 14-10.
“I know we can play better, and we should have played better. Our team’s so fragile, one bad thing happens, and then another, and another, and all of a sudden, it all goes up in smoke.”
Keep an eye on
Wide receiver Teddy Veal. His numbers were nothing special (six catches, 43 yards), but this guy is the real deal. He is headed for a huge year if Tulane’s line gives Lee any time. His touchdown reception in the corner of the end zone gave the Wave a 10-7 lead in the second quarter. Against less stout defenses, when Lee is not under siege every time he looks to throw, Veal will put up big numbers.
After Lee’s interception-less streak ended at 84 with a pick-six in the third quarter, he threw another interception two passes later, matching his total through four games. … The run game was supposed to be Tulane’s strength, but the Wave is averaging a meager 95.8 yards. No one has rushed for 200 yards. … Temple outscored Tulane 28-0 in the second half, running the Wave’s season total to 110-45 after halftime. … After going 2 of 17 on third downs against Temple last year, Tulane went 2 for 15 this time.
— Guerry Smith