On his first carry against Ohio State, Tulane starting running back Darius Bradwell knocked linebacker Tuf Borland to the turf with a powerful stiff arm before gaining 12 yards.
If Bradwell (6-foot-1, 230 pounds) can play with the same energy down after down rather than just when the ball is in his hands, the Green Wave could have a true difference-maker in the backfield to complement big-play specialist Corey Dauphine.
In a game Tulane lost 49-6 while going backwards on 14 plays, Bradwell made something positive happen on all four of his touches against the Buckeyes. On his second carry, he cut sharply, broke an arm tackle as he burst through a small hole and fell forward for another 12-yard gain when he was hit again.
The run started a 75-yard touchdown drive that ended when he bull-dozed into the end zone from 2 yards out, fighting through contact for the last yard.
“Like I said last week, you have to praise God that we were in that atmosphere,” he said. “It was a crazy atmosphere. It was football at its best.”
On Tulane’s next offensive snap, he picked up 5 yard, giving him 31 yards on four attempts midway through the second quarter.
He never touched the ball again, partially because the game got out of hand before halftime, possibly because he tweaked an ankle on his second attempt and potentially due to other shortcomings.
“We just need him to play physical in all aspects of the game,” coach Willie Fritz said. “If he can start doing that, he’ll be a big-time player. When he’s got the ball in his hands, we call him the Brahma Bull. He’s hard to get down.”
Fritz did not elaborate on Bradwell’s deficiencies, but he is coming off back-to-back impressive rushing performances. He led Tulane with 90 yards on 15 carries in a 31-24 loss to UAB and had a go-ahead 18-yard touchdown nullified by a holding penalty in the fourth quarter.
When the Wave entertains Memphis (3-1, 0-1 AAC) on Friday night at Yulman Stadium, he might be the pivotal player. Navy handed Memphis its lone loss, 22-21, by controlling the ball for 42 minutes and 47 seconds, limiting the Tigers’ high-powered offense to 49 plays.
Who better than a Brahma Bull to churn out first downs?
“If you look at the NFL, most of the time they are not making all the big runs, but if you stay consistent, stay on your landmarks, keep grinding, keep pounding, they are going to eventually open up and you are going to get a home run,” Bradwell said. “Those two or three yards, as long as I'm not negative two or negative three, I'm going to be happy.”
Bradwell was not healthy at the start of the year after missing a large segment of preseason drills with an unspecified injury. He looked like he was tiptoeing around a china shop in the opener against Wake Forest, gaining 22 yards on 10 attempts, but he has averaged 6.7 yards on 32 carries since then, getting some of his work as a wildcat quarterback.
He arrived at Tulane from Tallahassee, Florida as a full-time quarterback in 2016 before moving to running back near the end of his freshman season.
“Darius is the type of guy, one person’s not going to tackle him,” cornerback Donnie Lewis said. “He’s big and he’s very elusive, so he’ll make the first guy miss. He doesn’t look that fast, but he has some quick speed.”
Tulane, 1-3 entering conference play, has started slowly this year after entering with high expectations. Friday night is the perfect opportunity to put it all together before the Wave runs out of time.
“We’re really close,” Bradwell said. “It’s all minor mistakes that we’re doing. We’re competing against the other teams. It’s about 11 men doing the correct thing. If we do that, you see us make explosive plays and move the ball. The stupid penalties and blown assignments have been keeping us from winning games.”
With Ohio State thankfully in his rearview mirror, Tulane coach Willie Fritz faces the most significant game in his three-year tenure Friday a…
Senior tight ends Charles Jones and Kendall Ardoin returned to practice on Tuesday after neither traveled to Ohio State. Jones has missed three consecutive games with a leg injury while Ardoin (unspecified injury) sat out his first. Redshirt freshman Will Wallace and true freshman Tyrick James played in their place. … Tulane is a 14-point underdog to Memphis, the preseason media pick to win the AAC West.