The heat and humidity of New Orleans should help the Tulane football team handle the sweltering conditions it will face for a noon kickoff at UAB on Saturday.
The forecast for Birmingham, Alabama is a high of 92 degrees in what will be only the third September day game in the deep south for the Green Wave since it moved to Yulman Stadium from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in 2014.
After conducting Tuesday and Wednesday morning practices at Yulman Stadium, coach Willie Fritz ranked weather low on his list of worries.
“These guys are outside a bunch, so they ought to be used to the heat,” he said. “We'll have fans and all that other stuff there, so we'll do everything we can to get them ready to play to the best of their ability. We're always prepping our guys to turn it loose at game time. They (UAB) will be playing in the same weather."
Tulane beat Army 21-17 last Sept. 23 at Yulman Stadium when the temperature at the 11 a.m. kickoff was 88 degrees, with quarterback Jonathan Banks scoring the winning touchdown in the final 30 seconds.
The Wave wilted in the heat in its Yulman Stadium debut under former coach Curtis Johnson, losing 38-21 to Georgia Tech while being shut out in the second half. The temperature for that 3 p.m. kickoff was 89 degrees.
“We just have to hydrate like we always do,” Banks said. “It’s pretty much nothing. Playing at 12 should be no problem for us. We just have to be able to go out there and execute.”
The adjustment to free safety after two years at strong safety has gone smoothly for senior safety Roderic Teamer.
Never was that more evident than when he raced over to deflect a would-be touchdown pass from Nicholls State’s Chase Fourcade to running back Dontrell Taylor right up the pipe on Saturday night. Taylor appeared to have gotten free for a 25-yard scoring reception before Teamer slapped the ball away at the last instant.
The Colonels missed a 42-yard field goal on the next play, preserving the Wave’s 21-3 lead.
“It was huge,” Teamer said. “I was supposed to be going with the wide receiver (near the sideline), and I noticed the running back coming up the seam and Chase looked right at him. He didn’t see me. I wish I would have made a play on the ball with two hands, but I really just wanted to knock it down.”
Teamer made his third career interception in the third quarter, picking off a Fourcade floater at the Tulane 5 as the Wave protected a 21-10 lead.
Teamer has eight tackles and two break-ups through two games, matching his total of passes defensed in 10 games as a starter a year ago, when he finished with zero interceptions.
“Transitioning from strong to free safety really hasn’t been that difficult for me,” he said. “Our coaching staff harps on knowing multiple positions in the secondary.”
Muddled in the Middle?
True freshman nose tackle Jeffery Johnson missed his second consecutive practice on Wednesday with an unspecified injury, but Fritz said he expected him to play against UAB.
If Johnson is unavailable, the Wave will be thin in the middle. Redshirt sophomore De'Andre Williams started alongside Johnson in the first two games and can slide to nose tackle, but the only guy behind him would be true freshman Alfred Thomas, who has one tackle through two games.
Johnson, with five stops, was a crucial factor in the first two games as Tulane tightened up its suspect run defense from a year ago.
UAB running back Spencer Brown is a physical, between-the-tackles runner with 196 yards on 38 carries (5.2 average).
Fritz said true freshman defensive tackle Jamiran James, from De La Salle, had surgery recently for a spiral fracture on a finger and will not be available until he can take a big cast off of his hand. James, who was third team in preseason drills, did not play in the first two games. … Linebacker Larry Bryant, part of a three-man rotation at nickelback with Will Harper and Tirise Barge, missed Wednesday’s practice, pedaling an exercise bike.