Preview 2017: Tulane Green Wave
Previewing and looking ahead at the Tulane Green Wave season – and what you need to know.
What You Need To Know About The Tulane Offense
The Willie Fritz spread-option attack brought over from Georgia Southern sort of worked – at least the running game did.
The ground attack averaged 4.6 yards per carry with the three top running backs averaging well over five yards per carry, but two of them are gone. Leading man Dontrell Hilliard is back to lead another stellar running game – as long as the O line is fine.
There’s shuffling going on, but the front five will be among the big things needing work going into the summer. The receiving corps is okay – Terren Encalade is a good enough No. 1 target – but the nation’s least-efficient passing game has to be far sharper.
The hope is for Kansas State transfer Jonathan Banks to step in and be the answer. Any production will make the Green Wave O potentially amazing. That’s why …
Biggest Key To The Tulane Offense
The passing game has to show up. With the third-worst passing game in the nation, and the least-efficient, the Tulane quarterbacks have to be able to complete a forward pass.
Glen Cuiellette and Johnathan Bradley combined to complete just 42% of their throws with ten touchdowns and eight picks. While the running game butters the Tulane bread, the passers have to take advantage of defenses that cheat up. They couldn’t do that, even a little bit.
What You Need To Know About The Tulane Defense
The defense did its part. There were a few problems and a couple of rough breakdowns, but for the most part, the Green Wave D was more than fine, finishing 31st in the nation in total yards allowed, led by a solid secondary.
Led by playmaking corner Parry Nickerson, the defensive backs should be among the most productive in the conference, while the two linebackers in the 4-2-5 will be solid with a little time. As long as Ade Aruna and the pass rush comes from the front four, the defensive production won’t fall off.
Biggest Key To The Tulane Defense
Life has to go on without Tanzel Smart. Smart and LB Nico Marley combined for 32.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks, and now the production has to be replaced. The pass rush wasn’t a killer to begin with – the Green Wave came up with 29 sacks – but those two made most of the timely key plays and now the green Wave D has to somehow be even more disruptive.
Tulane Will Be Far Better If …
The offense can start converting third down chances. It didn’t make any sense. The running game worked, it came up with manageable third down chances, and the opportunities were there to get the offense moving, and it just didn’t work. The Green Wave were dead last in the nation in third down conversion percentage, converting a pathetic 28% of the time. 0-for-16 against Louisiana-Lafayette, and 1-for-10 against Temple – even with a win over ULL – the inability to keep things moving was usually a deathblow.
Best Tulane Offensive Player
RB Dontrell Hilliard, Sr. – The team’s leading rusher, he have a few nice moments with 759 yards and nine scores, averaging 5.6 yards per carry while catching nine passes for 114 yards. He’s not a big presence, but the 6-0, 200-pounder could be used more as a workhorse from time to time in the spread-option.
He busted out for three 100-yard games, with 124 yards and two scores against Tulsa, and 111 yards and a touchdown against SMU, but now he needs more work.
2. OT John Leglue, Jr.
3. QB Jonathan Banks, Jr.
4. RB Sherman Badie, Sr.
5. WR Terren Encalade Jr.
Best Tulane Defensive Player
CB Parry Nickerson, Sr. – One of the league’s best playmaking corners, the 6-0, 180-pound veteran was the main man for a strong secondary, coming up with 29 tackles with four interceptions, taking one for a score. A ball-hawker, he came up with six picks as a freshman, broke up eight passes as a sophomore, and last year, he made teams pay for throwing his way. He won’t outphysical anyone, but he’ll make things happen when the ball is in the air.
2. S Jarod Franklin, Sr.
3. DE Ade Aruna, Sr.
4. CB Donnie Lewis, Jr.
5. S Roderick Teamer, Jr.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Jonathan Banks, Jr. – He needs more time, and it’s hardly a given that he’ll be the starter, but the Kansas State transfer is the perfect fit for the Green Wave offense. The 6-2, 215-pounder can move, is accurate enough, and brings the playmaking ability to potentially crank up the nation’s least-efficient passing game. Glen Cuilellette is back after starting late last year, and Johnathan Brantley is in the hunt, but Banks signed on for a reason. Once he figures out what he’s doing, look out.
The Tulane Season Will Be A Success If …
The Green Wave get to six wins. It would be a two-win improvement with a trip to a bowl game at the end of the fun. After close losses to Wake Forest, Navy and Memphis, the team was close to getting to bowl eligibility, but didn’t quite get there thanks to a six-game losing streak over the second half of the season. The big problem was conference play, going just 1-7, which means …
Key Game To The Tulane Season
Sept. 9 at Navy – So you want to be in the American Athletic title chase, Tulane, or at least be relevant? Beat the defending West champ on the road. Assuming everything is tuned up after the opening week win over Grambling State, if the Green Wave can out-option one of the ultimate options teams, it’ll make a splash.
2016 Tulane Fun Stats
– 3rd Down Conversions: Opponents 81-of-189 (43%) – Tulane 52-of-187 (28%)
– Average Yards Per Throw: Opponents 7.2 – Tulane 5.3
– Time of Possession: Tulane 32:23 – Opponents 27:37