Defense Dominates in Tulane Spring Game


The Tulane Green Wave football program finally got to audition their new look team under new coach Willie Fritz, this past Saturday at Yulman Stadium, and the first reviews are in: the Green Wave should be improved on the defensive side of the football in 2016.

Under overcast skies in the low 70’s, Tulane head coach Willie Fritz ran a controlled scrimmage of 70 plays and kept the quarterbacks off limits from being tackled.

But the Green Wave defense shined bright at times, with  redshirt-sophomore defensive tackle Robert Kennedy recording a total of eight tackles, including four of the defense’s nine — count’em — 9 sacks.

Kennedy was one of six defenders to record a sack and sophomore safety Roderic Teamer corralled a tipped pass from freshman quarterback Darius Bradwell for the game’s lone interception.

The game was very difficult to gauge performance, since there is a significance of lack of depth currently. The rules were also designed to protect the QB, as any touch would blow the play dead. That being said, it was good to finally get a chance for the players to get out on the field and play a form of live action.

Photo courtesy of Tulane Athletics

The field goal kickers started things off with attempts from around 35-40 yards. The performance was very lackluster as the kickers combined only went 2-9 altogether. Hopefully, that was just a fluke as Fritz said that in practice, they were all pretty efficient.

Points are the one thing that Tulane will desperately need if they want to go bowling this year. Fritz summed it up best when asked about the readiness of Tulane to start the season:

"“Well I don’t know. Good thing is we don’t start tomorrow”."

The fact is that this Green Wave team is in its earliest stages of trying to complete a depth chart. Furthermore, there will be a totally new offensive scheme implemented, with a lot more focus on running the ball.

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Tulane did accomplish that with over 192 yards on 53 carries.  Junior RB Sherman Badie led the Wave with 67 yards on 10 carries. The others also were very productive Hilliard, Rounds, and Thompson.

Dontrell Hilliard had the longest scamper on the day with a 40 yard run. If Tulane can run the ball consistently, the offense should at least keep the defense off the field. This will be the key to Tulane’s season, to control the line of scrimmage and make first downs.

The quarterback play was no doubt dominated by senior Devin Powell. Powell was simply the only one that seemed fully in control of the offense being 5-7 for 59 yards.

The other two QB’s — Glen Cuiellette and freshman Darius Bradwell — went 2-10 for 10 yards. Bradwell looked very impressive when he had chances to get out into the open field. Perhaps Tulane may want to consider playing some type of two quarterback system, just to give defenses a change of pace so they can take advantage of Bradwell’s athleticism.

There was one touchdown pass by QB Glen Cuiellette to WR Chaz Augustini. Other than that, there were plenty of overthrows and missed pitches by Cuielette and Bradwell. Luckily for them, the season is still months away.

However, without question the game’s outstanding performance belonged to the defensive line, and especially Robert Kennedy. Kennedy had four sacks alone with eight tackles. The defense combined for nine total sacks.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the offensive line simply looked thoroughly dominated by their counterparts. To be fair, that is what these Spring games are all about, though.

Photo courtesy of Parker Waters, Tulane Athletics

The biggest challenge for the Green Wave will be navigation of their conference schedule when the season kicks off. With Houston beating Florida St, and Memphis beating Ole Miss; as well as  Temple almost knocking off Notre Dame, the AAC is no “mid major” any longer.

Tulane will simply need to play mistake free football if they want to go .500 / break even in their conference. The competition is going to be as tough as it ever has this upcoming year.

The Wave can win enough games to make it to a bowl game, if they win the turnover battle. There is simply no other way to go on to a winning season, with the lack of depth and the growing pains that come with the installation of a brand new system…….