1. WHAT WE LEARNED
Tulane is not good, plain and simple. In a matchup of two struggling teams, Cincinnati controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides, pretty much stuffing the Green Wave’s running game while making several big plays in the air. Yes, Tulane got in position to win on its final drive before Merek Glover missed a 36-yard field goal — but execution was a problem all day. Just look at the final sequence. Needing 2 yards on third down at the Cincy 15, Tulane picked up 1. When the Wave tried to draw the Bearcats offside on fourth-and-1 or go for it against the right look, freshman guard Corey Dublin jumped early. Then the field goal went awry on what looked like a bad snap, hold and kick. Ouch.
2. TRENDING NOW
Sophomore Darnell Mooney has emerged as an outstanding receiver. He showed the potential from Day 1 after arriving late as a true freshman in 2016 and excelling in preseason camp anyway, and he delivered on that promise Saturday, almost single-handedly keeping Tulane close. He finished with eight catches for 145 yards and made two terrific grabs on the final drive to put the Wave in field goal range. He has good hands, decent speed, runs good routes and has good ability after the catch. He has joined Terren Encalade as an effective 1-2 punch on the outside — but until Tulane’s line can block better for the run and pass, it won’t mean a whole lot.
3. FINAL THOUGHTS
Players talked about the possibility of winning out and becoming bowl-eligible, but Tulane will have a hard time winning again at all without some significant improvements. The obvious issues are a line that struggles to open up holes for a run-first offense and a secondary that continues to get burned for big pass plays, but consider this: Tulane has recorded zero sacks in its four-game losing streak. That’s right. Zero. It is nearly impossible to win when the defense can’t make plays on the front end or the back end. Next up: East Carolina, which threw 74 times in its loss to Houston on Saturday. Something needs to change in a hurry.