1. What we learned
Tulane is not ready for a prime-time audience or the upper half of the American Athletic Conference. Everything that could possibly go wrong for the Green Wave happened in a horrid first half that decided the outcome, from questionable coaching decisions (going for it on fourth-and-goal from the 2 on the opening possession) to bonehead plays like freshman Teddy Veal trying to field a punt over his shoulder inside the 5-yard line, muffing it and turning the play into an easy touchdown for Cincinnati. The Green Wave, loaded with redshirt and true freshman on offense, did not give itself a chance to win.
2. Trending now Youthful mistakes. With senior receiver Xavier Rush suffering a season-ending knee injury in practice two days before the game and senior defensive end Tyler Gilbert getting ejected for targeting early in the first quarter, the Wave was bereft of experience at a lot of positions. Incredibly, 19 of redshirt freshman quarterback Tanner Lee’s completions went to true freshmen. True freshman Dontrell Hilliard accounted for 123 of Tulane’s 175 rushing yards. It’s hard to hang with a quality program like Cincinnati with that many newcomers.
3. Final thoughts Tulane has increased its team speed substantially under coach Curtis Johnson, but this is the second time the Wave has looked substantially slower than its opponent this year. Rutgers hurt Tulane with several big plays when its receivers simply outran the Wave secondary, and Cincinnati had big plays on the ground and in the air during the first half the same way. The Wave still needs to get faster to compete in the AAC.