Tulane offensive line coach Alex Atkins, left, and head coach Willie Fritz celebrate Dontrell Hilliard's 75-yard run for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage against Army on Saturday at Yulman Stadium in New Orleans.

Advocate photo by A.J. SISCO


Tulane is learning how to win in coach Willie Fritz’s second year, and that’s an even more important step than playing well for a team used to losing. Army won the battle at the line of scrimmage for most of the game, a sure recipe for a Green Wave loss in the past. What do you think the score would have been in previous years if an opponent won the time-of-possession battle 39:18-20:42 and converted 8 of 17 third downs to Tulane’s 2 of 11? Certainly not 21-17 in Tulane's favor. Winning is a habit, and the Wave took the first step toward acquiring it.


Quarterback Jonathan Banks is a winner. Clearly protecting an injury for the first 3½ quarters, he was hesitant to run as Tulane tried to ride two long touchdowns by Dontrell Hilliard and Sherman Badie to a victory. But when he had to make plays on the Wave’s final possession, Banks made several on one of the most clutch touchdown drives in school history, sacrificing his body for the win. The coaches can work on an offense that was out of sync for most of the day, but that type of innate ability can’t be taught.


Tulane has plenty to fix heading into its open week, but those issues will be much more fun to work on at 2-2 than 1-3. Aside from two impressive drives to start the Oklahoma game and two huge gains against Army, the running game has not been where Fritz wants it to be. It’s hard to get a gauge on the defense because the Wave has played two triple-option teams, overmatched Grambling and had no shot against Oklahoma. We will get a much better read on this team in two weeks against Tulsa, which fell to 1-3 with a 16-13 home loss to New Mexico.