Dontrell Hilliard, Jaymon Thomas

Tulane running back Dontrell Hilliard is tripped by South Florida safety Jaymon Thomas during the first half Saturday at Yulman Stadium.

Associated Press photo by Derick E. Hingle

1. WHAT WE LEARNED

Tulane is not good enough to beat a team like South Florida. Bulls quarterback Quinton Flowers was by far the best player on the field until he took his foot off the gas in the fourth quarter, outrunning the Tulane defense to convert one crucial third down after another as the Green Wave fell behind 34-7. To its credit, Tulane did not fold, scoring three touchdowns in the last 18 minutes to pull within 34-28, but the damage already was done, mostly by Flowers. The Wave needs to get a little more athletic on defense to contend with special players like he is.

2. TRENDING NOW

Dontrell Hilliard’s NFL draft tape. Hilliard had 140 yards rushing and should easily become the fifth running back in Tulane history with 1,000 in a season. He was the second-best player on the field, scoring the Wave’s final two touchdowns on a 24-yard reception out of the backfield and a 16-yard run, on which he bowled over three defenders, closing the gap to 34-28 late. He also had two scores called back by penalties. Hilliard doesn’t just do one thing well. He does everything well, and he appears poised to join Tulane’s impressive list of running backs in the NFL next year.

3. FINAL THOUGHTS

It’s still hard to get a gauge on where this team is as coach Willie Fritz tries to build a winner. For much of the night, Tulane appeared outclassed by South Florida, and the Wave also committed a boatload of penalties (12 for 137 yards). But after falling behind by 27 points, the Wave made all kinds of plays offensively, blocked a field goal and put a scare into USF. Is this team good enough to go to a bowl? Another rough assignment is on tap at Memphis, and a loss would force Tulane to win three of its last four to get to 6-6. It’s still possible.