The Tulane Green Wave will try to turn over a new leaf on Saturday afternoon when they play visit Cajun Field to take on Louisiana Lafayette. The Green Wave lost their FBS leading 14th game in a row last week as they were pounded, 63-10, by the Sun Belt Conference's ULM Warhawks at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Tulane has been outscored 152-25 by its opponents this season and managed just three points over the course of its last two outings.
Louisiana is coming off an impressive 48-20 win over FIU, which was its seventh straight home win and gave it sole possession of first place in the SBC. The 3-1 Ragin' Cajuns also defeated Lamar (40-0) and Troy (37-24) before suffering their only loss, to Oklahoma State (65-24) in what will surely be their most difficult test of the season. Tulane's offense has been completely bottled up by its opposition this season. It ranks last in the FBS with averages of eight points and 187.3 yards per game. The Green Wave's rushing attack is gaining just five yards per game, which is just over 40 yards less than Washington State (45.6), which has the second worst rushing offense in the FBS.
Three different players have already started under center for Tulane. D.J. Ponder got the nod last week and threw three interceptions. There is a chance that regular starter Ryan Griffin returns from his shoulder injury this week, but Ponder will be the signal caller if he is unable to go. The offense's only true weapon is wideout Ryan Grant, who leads the team with 300 receiving yards and a touchdown on 20 receptions. Grant was keyed on last week by ULM, which held him to 26 yards and a season-low three catches.
While the offense has been unable to produce points or first downs, Tulane's defense has been overpowered. Opponents are averaging 42.3 points and 260.3 rushing yards per contest. Despite the team's struggles, Zach Davis continues to progress. Davis recorded a career-high 12 tackles last week against the Warhawks. He also tallied a sack, a pair of tackles for loss, and an interception. The Ragin' Cajuns compiled a season-high 501 yards of total offense in last week's rout of FIU. UL had ball security issues and fumbled six times, but it retained possession on all but two of the miscues. Blaine Gautier threw for 86 yards, ran for 21, and scored a pair of touchdowns, but he left the game with a hand injury that will keep him out for an extended period. He has played just nine of his team's 16 quarters this season. In his absence, Terrance Broadway did not miss a beat, completing 15-of-19 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown. Both quarterbacks have proven to be effective under center, but Broadway will take the reigns of the offense for at least the next month. Alonzo Harris leads the team with 251 rushing yards and two TDs on 51 carries. Effrem Reed has shown more explosiveness despite fewer chances (33 rushes, 179 yards, two TDs).
Although Javone Lawson (16 catches, 161 yards, TD) and Darryl Surgent (10 catches, 223 yards, TD) were employed as the team's top options in the passing game, Harry Peoples delivered a breakout performance last week. Peoples shined against the Panthers, catching 10 balls for 151 yards, both season-highs, with most of the damage coming on a 78-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Defensively, Louisiana has been solid with the exception of its 65-point allowance to Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were the only team to gain more than 60 rushing yards against the Cajuns this season. FIU was unable to effectively pass against UL last week, as it was held to 204 passing yards and picked off twice.
Look for the Rajun Cajuns to establish control early and dominate a terrible Tulane team from the outset on both sides of the ball. We look to turn the tide on a rough start to the 2012 campaign and right the ship en route to respectability. Best of luck however you play!