The Tulane football team will have one more senior starter than anticipated for its season finale against Tulsa.
Sophomore quarterback Tanner Lee broke another finger on his throwing hand in the SMU game and has been ruled out, clearing the way for graduate student and former walk-on Jordy Joseph to make his second career start Friday at Yulman Stadium.
“It’s very bittersweet,” Joseph said. “I love Tanner. It’s unfortunate what happened to him, but everybody in the quarterback room prepares as if they are going to play, so I’ll feel comfortable out there.”
Joseph will join a small group of senior starters — the others are safety Darion Monroe, defensive end Royce LaFrance, defensive tackle Corey Redwine and offensive tackle Arturo Uzdavinis — with the tough task of beating Tulsa (5-6, 3-4 American Athletic Conference), which would earn its first bowl bid in three years with a victory. The year for Tulane (3-8, 1-6) will end regardless of the result, and the fate of fourth-year coach Curtis Johnson likely will be decided in the near future.
Lee was largely ineffective after fracturing a finger against Navy on Oct. 24. He completed 57.8 percent of his throws through that game, but the number plummeted to 39.6 percent in the last three weeks as he went 36 of 91.
Joseph guided Tulane to touchdowns on its first two possessions in his previous start against Memphis on Oct. 31. The Green Wave was shut out the rest of the way in a 41-13 loss that turned on a high punt snap late in the second quarter safety.
The Tigers, who pulled within 13-12 when punter Zach Block had to fall on the ball on the end zone for a safety, kicked a field goal to go ahead before halftime and cruised from there.
Joseph finished 10 of 24 for 131 yards, but he learned his duties extended past his stats.
“The main thing is making sure to keep the team up,” he said. “We started out hot and the team was up, and then after the bad snap on special teams, you kind of saw everybody get depressed, and that’s when Memphis started to pick on them. We have to stay focused on what we have to do.”
While Joseph will start, Johnson anticipates the first significant playing time for redshirt freshman Glen Cuillette, whose only game action came when he took a knee on the final play of a 38-7 victory against Maine in September.
Cuillette, from Mandeville, has spent almost the entire season running the scout-team offense.
“We’re going to try Glen out,” Johnson said. “I want to take a good look at Glen and see what he can do. He needs to plan on playing no matter what.”
Johnson said junior Devin Powell, who started in a 42-7 loss to Houston and has not played since then, would be available, too.
Johnson still was having a hard time processing Saturday’s 49-21 loss at SMU, which entered the contest with a 1-9 record.
For the first time in a conference game, he did not like Tulane’s effort level.
“That was probably one of the most disappointing overall games that I’ve been around,” he said. “I thought we were ready to play, but we couldn’t get anything going offensively early on. The defense was playing outstanding, then all of a sudden we get a blocked kick (returned for a touchdown). After that we didn’t play like we’re capable of playing.
“The kids, coaches and everybody have to understand, you can’t play like that ever.”
Monroe, who will start for 48th time in his career, pinned the lackluster effort on the players.
“It was us,” he said. “We played horrible. Some plays we didn’t have a lot of effort, and we missed a lot of tackles. I didn’t like the body language, and that’s on me, too. I got down after I missed a couple of tackles. It was a weird game. We have to play with a lot more energy on Friday.”
Johnson is demanding it.
“I want to see a good fight,” he said. “I want to see us go out in fine fashion with these guys hustling and playing like they’re capable of.”
Door not closed
Johnson confirmed after Tuesday’s practice that fourth-year junior offensive linemen Nathan Shienle and Colton Hanson would walk with the seniors in a pregame ceremony, but he said their Tulane careers might not be over.
“It’s the same thing Redwine did last year,” Johnson said. “Shienle is graduating, and so is Colton. (Whether they will return next year) has not been fully decided yet by them.”
Redwine participated in senior day ceremonies last season, then decided to return for a fifth year a few weeks later.
Cornerback Richard Allen, who has not played since the Navy game, remains under concussion protocol again and will not play Friday. ... Johnson said wide receiver Devon Breaux is day-to-day along with safety Roderic Teamer with unspecified injuries. Neither practiced Tuesday.