Tulane will finish the season without sophomore middle linebacker Edward Williams, who suffered a mysterious injury away from football and will be unavailable for the Green Wave’s season finale.
Tulane (3-8, 2-5 American Athletic Conference) hosts Temple (5-6, 3-4) on Saturday night.
Wearing a brace on his left knee all week and limping noticeably, Williams did not practice Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
“I don’t see him doing anything (against Temple),” coach Curtis Johnson said. “It (the injury) wasn’t on the field. It was something silly.”
Johnson would not be more specific, but Williams is coming off the best three-game stretch of his career. He had 12 tackles in Tulane’s 31-24 upset of Houston and four each against Memphis and East Carolina, accounting for more than half of his season total of 38 tackles.
Eric Thomas, a sophomore from John Curtis, will make his fifth start of the year in Williams’ absence. Thomas has 29 tackles but only eight in the past four games.
“I like what Eric’s doing,” Johnson said. “Since we’ve been here, we’ve know this guy is a run-stopper. One thing he’s had to do is work on his pass coverage, and I think he’s done that.”
Safety Sam Scofield racked up another academic award Thursday.
Scofield, a senior who leads the team in tackles for the second consecutive year, was a repeat second-team Academic All-America selection by the College Sports Information Directors of America. He has a grade point average of 3.77 and will graduate in the spring with a degree in finance.
Scofield took an early step toward applying that degree when he missed practice on Tuesday for a job interview in Houston.
“I want to do something with finance, investment banking, something like that,” he said. “I’m just trying to figure out what I want to do, interviewing at a bunch of places.”
Scofield has not ruled out trying for the NFL. He made 104 tackles last season and has 89 this year, 15 more than any of his teammates.
“I just really have to think about it,” he said. “Probably over Christmas break I’ll figure out all the answers.”
Johnson did not know what to do Thursday morning during the last full practice of the season. With the Green Wave coming off back-to-back lopsided defeats against Memphis and East Carolina, he expected a sluggish week and got the opposite.
“They ran around and looked good again today,” Johnson said. “I don’t get these guys. I wanted to yell at them today but I couldn’t really do too much yelling. It’s a happy bunch. They are rowdy.”
The hard part has been translating that practice fire into games, where the Wave has been outscored 51-3 in the first half of its last three losses.
“I tell those guys, ‘You have to find your routine and figure out how you’re going to get yourself ready for the game,’ ” Johnson said. “The practicing is right. The game plans are right. All the stuff is absolutely correct. We just have to figure out how do we get up for these games. I think we’ll do that (against Temple).”
Sophomore wide receiver Devon Breaux made a beautiful leaping touchdown grab in practice earlier this week, giving a glimpse of his unrealized potential.
Breaux, who was expected to be one of Tulane’s leading receivers, never recovered from a poor outing against Tulsa in the season opener, when he started but failed to make plays. He enters the Temple game with six catches for 39 yards, and freshmen Teddy Veal, Leondre James and Terren Encalade all have passed him in the pecking order.
“He’s a kid that has to be 100-percent (healthy),” Johnson said. “He’s a track guy, so these little knickknacks are going to set him back when that shouldn’t set him back. He needs to get a little bit tougher, but he’s grown through the season and he’ll be a big part of next year.”