The 1-2 Tulane Green Wave are seeking to bounce back from a tough loss at home last week, as they host the in-state rival University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns in the final game of a 3-consecutive game homestand at Yulman Stadium in uptown New Orleans in just a short while from now.
Here’s a quick Preview and Prediction for tonight’s contest:
WHO: Green Wave (1-2) vs Ragin’ Cajuns (2-1)
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 24Tth. 7 p.m.
WHERE: Yulman Stadium, New Orleans
TV: ESPN 3
ALL TIME SERIES: Tulane Leads 21-5
The Green Wave couldn’t seal the win against Navy. The Green Wave were able to answer in the back-and-forth affair, up until the very end when they finally ran out of gas.
Sep 17, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Tulane Green Wave quarterback Johnathan Brantley (1) carries the ball beside Navy Midshipmen defensive end Amos Mason (52) in the second half at Yulman Stadium. Navy defeated Tulane 21-14. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
Navy scored on a one-yard touchdown run by QB Will Worth, with 2:57 left in the fourth quarter. Worth’s Touchdown and the subsequent 2 point conversion were the last points in the see-saw battle. The Midshipmen left Yulman with a 21-14 win.
Navy’s key to winning the game was that although they were limited to 59 yards passing b the Green Wave defense, the Midshipmen were 9 of 13 on third downs.
Conversely, Tulane only passed for a paltry 21 yards and were 2 for 12 on third downs. The Green Wave’s 2 losses this year have been by a combined 11 points.
In the fourth quarter of both losses, the young Green Wave offense has struggled to sustain drives and score points. In the Green Wave’s 2 losses, ZERO points have been scored in the 4th quarter. The youth and inexperience at QB is clear when the Green Wave need a late score or have to consistently sustain drives.
Sep 17, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Tulane Green Wave quarterback Johnathan Brantley (1) passes the ball against the Navy Midshipmen in the second half at Yulman Stadium. Navy defeated Tulane 21-14. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
Offensively, Tulane averages 28 points per game . the Green Wave average 274 rushing yards per game and an FBS-worst 56 yards passing yards per game.
Defensively the Green Wave give up 285 yards per game(145 passing, 140 rushing). Tulane holds opponents to 16 points per game.
Coach Fritz has not announced who will start at QB against the Ragin’ Cajuns. Glen Cuiellette or Johnathan Brantley haven’t been able to separate from the other, and win the starting job. The offensive line hasn’t protected the QB’s well, nor has either QB has thrown the ball well on top of that.
.Coach Fritz on the Navy loss and the Green Wave’s inability to close games:
"”It’s disappointing, but that’s how Navy wins games, just how they did it,” Green Wave first-year coach Willie Fritz said. ”They grind it out. They’ve got a winning culture there, and that’s what we want to have.””It’s important to have a bunch of good players surrounding a quarterback that’s making his first career start,” Fritz said. “When you lack experience there, you’ve gotta be pretty good everywhere else. Our quarterbacks are learning on the job, so we need our other guys to help them out and make the job a little easier.” “It’s been a learning process for all of us here early in the season,” Fritz said. “We know our guys are fighting their tails off in these games, it’s just a matter of making those smart and timely plays when you need them. “We need to do a better job sensing those moments when they arrive and take advantage of the opportunity.”"
Last week the Ragin’ Cajuns defeated conference opponent South Alabama Jaguars 28-23. The Ragin Cajuns offense outgained the Jaguars 512 to 338.
Sep 5, 2015; Lexington, KY, USA; Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns running back Elijah McGuire (15) runs the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium. Kentucky defeated Louisiana Lafayette 40-33. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
The Ragin Cajuns are led by explosive and versatile running back Elijah McGuire. McGuire is the second leading rusher in school history.
Against South Alabama, McGuire ran for 223 yards on 23 carries including a 68 yard TD run. MCGuire is averaging 136 rushing yards per game and has good hands 100 receptions over his career.
McGuire is the catalyst for the Ragin Cajuns,and Tulane’s defense must do whatever it can to limit his explosive plays.
Quarterback Anthony Jennings, the LSU transfer, has shown some dual-threat ability. Jennings the Ragin Cajuns second leading rusher this year, is averaging 30 yards per game and has 2 rushing TD’s. Jennings has thrown for 5 TD’s and 2 INT’s this year while completing 67.55 of his passes.
Jennings on the Ragin’ Cajun offense:
"“Since I announced my transfer from LSU, I just wanted to find a place that best fit me,”I think (UL-Lafayette head coach Mark) Hudspeth gave me the best opportunity to come in, play and be in an environment that helped me succeed. “No doubt, I think the spread system fits me better,” Jennings said. “Having so many talented guys like (running back) Elijah McGuire and our receivers as a security blanket really made sense.”"
The Ragin’ Cajuns average 23 points a game on 390 total yards per game (204 passing,186 rushing). Al Riles is an explosive WR for the Ragin’ Cajuns, with 8 receptions for 131 yards last week.
The Ragin’ Cajuns are a balanced offensive football team. For Tulane to be successful, they most stuff the box on occasion but Jennings can make plays with his legs and get the ball to his playmakers downfield.
Defensively the Ragin’ Cajuns are allowing opponents 429 yards per game (318 passing,111 rushing). Opponents are averaging 30 points per game on the Ragin’ Cajuns defense.
Inside linebacker Otha Peters, an Arkansas transfer and a Covington, La. native, leads the Ragin’ Cajuns defense.
Peters is a tenacious and aggressive defender, and has drawn comparisons to old school greats such as former Saints “Dome Patrol” legend Vaughn Johnson. Peters on the year has a sack, forced fumble, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 20 tackles.
KEYS TO THE GAME FOR TULANE:
Tulane has come up short in close games thus far this year. The small things are getting them beat — turnovers, penalties, and 3rd down conversions.
Additionally, the indecision or lack of a clear-cut QB is also an issue.
Fritz has been cycling in 2 QB’s but that hasn’t helped the offensive continuity or consistency. Glen Cuiellette or Johnathan Brantley need to step up take the reigns and be the QB and leader of the offense.
Sep 17, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Tulane Green Wave head coach Willie Fritz high fives players during pregame warmups prior to kickoff against the Navy Midshipmen at Yulman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
Otherwise, it will be up to the Green Wave defense to keep games close — and last week was an indication of what happens when they bend so far that they finally break.
Tulane needs to execute better in all aspects of the game, and not just from one in particular (the defense).
FINAL SCORE PREDICTION:
Today’s game will be close, with contrasting styles: the Ragin’ Cajuns are explosive and can score quickly, while the Green Wave are a run-based team whose offense isn’t explosive at all.
In the end however, Tulane has the better defense and home field advantage.
The Wave will ultimately prevail 27-21, squeaking out a win over their in-state rivals…….