Coming off its best road win of the century, Tulane received good news about sophomore defensive end Cameron Sample heading into its key homecoming game against East Carolina.
Sample, who leads Green Wave linemen with 37 tackles, had to be helped off the field on South Florida’s opening series Saturday and did not return, watching the second half from the sideline in a walking boot with crutches. A Bulls lineman dove at him with a cut block before pinning his leg in an awkward position, rolling his ankle.
“He’s going to be all right,” coach Willie Fritz said Monday on the American Athletic Association coaches teleconference. “We’re hoping he’s going to be able to go this weekend. We’ll just have to see on it, but it’s early in the week. He’s a tough kid.”
The Wave won 41-15 without Sample, improving to 4-5 overall and 3-2 in the AAC with three games remaining, but losing him for a longer stretch would have been a blow. He and outside linebacker Patrick Johnson, who was named to the AAC weekly honor roll, have become a dominant tandem.
Johnson made five tackles with 1½ sacks, running his season total to a team high 6½ sacks.
“He had another big game for us,” Fritz said. “He continues to keep getting better every single week.”
Tulane can move within one game of bowl eligibility by beating East Carolina (2-6, 0-5). The Pirates have lost 19 of their last 22 conference games dating back to their finale in 2015.
Tulane racked up awards from the conference office after clobbering South Florida as a touchdown underdog.
Running back Darius Bradwell joined Johnson on the honor roll, finishing with 15 carries for 135 yards, including a back-breaking 73-yard touchdown run right after a one-handed interception by linebacker Zach Harris.
Kicker Merek Glover was named special teams player of the week after hitting both of his field goals (from 38 and 24 yards) and all five of his extra points for 11 total points.
Glover is the first Tulane player named offense, defense or special teams player of the week this year.
Yes to Yulman
Hoping to attract a bigger crowd at Yulman Stadium for homecoming than the tepid numbers Tulane has attracted this season, Fritz praised the 30,000-seat, fifth-year on-campus facility effusively.
His take: no Yulman Stadium, no Fritz.
“It’s awesome for us,” he said. “We feel like it’s a game-changer. Every seat is a perfect seat and it’s easy to get to for the students and it’s a perfect size for us. You get in those big stadiums and you sit up top and there’s kind of a rumor of a game going on down there on the field, and that was probably the case for us with the Superdome.
“I’m glad that we got this. I wouldn’t have taken the job to be honest with you if we didn’t have this on-campus stadium. They did a really nice job with it.”
Tulane is favored over East Carolina by 13½ points, its largest number against an FBS opponent since it was favored by 16 against UTEP in its final home game at the Superdome in 2013. Tulane won that one 45-3. … Rushing for more than 300 yards in its last two games, Tulane has raised its season average to 222.0. If the Wave maintains that average, Fritz will own three of the school’s top five all-time rushing averages in his three years as coach. … Freshman Amare Jones is averaging 36.3 yards on seven kickoff returns and 12.2 yards on six punt returns.