TULSA, Okla. — Tulane has nine days to get over Thursday’s excruciating, 38-31, double-overtime road loss that had to be confidence-sapping for the defense, which gave up nearly 600 yards to a Tulsa team that finished 100th nationally in offense last season.
It’s tough to say whether there will be a carry-over effect for the long-awaited Yulman Stadium debut set for Sept. 6 against Georgia Tech, which presents a totally different challenge from spread-oriented Tulsa. The Yellow Jackets run the triple option and force defenses to play disciplined football, passing only occasionally.
The hoopla and excitement about playing on campus for the first time in 40 years should make it easier for Tulane to forget about its come-from-ahead loss, but some inexperienced defenders need to grow up in a hurry.
Tulane never trailed against Tulsa until losing in double overtime and appeared headed to an easy win when it had the ball at the Golden Hurricane’s 14-yard line with a 21-7 lead late in the first half.
But Tanner Lee fumbled after a defender sacked him untouched from the blind side, and the Wave allowed an 84-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown with 37 seconds left.
Suddenly, it was anyone’s game, and Tulsa made one more play than Tulane in the second half, overcoming a 215-yard performance from running back Sherman Badie and Lee’s pinpoint passing.
It was a reversal from last year, when an excellent Tulane defense carried a bad offense. After losing six of their top nine tacklers from 2013, the Wave defenders talked big in the preseason but played small Thursday. Tulsa beat them on slants over and over. They also appeared disorganized at times, with safeties Sam Scofield and Darion Monroe still making calls as the ball was snapped.
Badie and Lee star
Playing their first college games, both Badie and Lee were outstanding.
Badie broke loose for a 90-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, the longest for Tulane in 21 years, and added a 73-yard jaunt in the fourth. He is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball.
Lee came out sharp, throwing two scoring tosses in the first half as Tulane passed on 19 of its first 26 plays. He showed good feel for the pass rush and was accurate on most of his throws. His numbers (22-of-44 for 262 yards) were not as good as his performance.
Possible defensive change?
Darion Monroe, a deep safety the past two years, played closer to the line of scrimmage at nickel because the coaches trusted inexperienced safeties Brandon LeBeau and Leonard Davis. The move backfired.
Davis got burned badly for a 43-yard touchdown pass. LeBeau missed a tackle he could not afford to miss, freeing Keevan Lucas for an 84-yard touchdown in the final minute of the first half.
Monroe, who has said he prefers playing safety, may be back there soon.
Ade Aruna, a 6-foot-5, 247-pound defensive end from Nigeria, kicked off four times and drilled his second one through the end zone for a touchback. His last one came down at the 15, though, and punter Peter Picerelli replaced him for the final kickoff. … Scofield had 14 tackles, more than twice as many as any teammate. … Freshman Charles Jones scored the first touchdown by a Tulane tight end in coach Curtis Johnson’s three-year tenure. … Tulane dropped to 4-2 in overtime games. ... The 551 yards the Wave allowed in regulation were more than it gave up in any game last year.