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Know the Foe: Tulane

The Green Wave possess a more balanced offense than most presume
Tulane quarterback Justin McMillan, a graduate transfer from LSU, helped rally the Green Wave to a 24-17 victory at Tulsa last weekend. [Parker Waters/Tulane Athletics]
Tulane quarterback Justin McMillan, a graduate transfer from LSU, helped rally the Green Wave to a 24-17 victory at Tulsa last weekend. [Parker Waters/Tulane Athletics]
Published Oct. 30, 2018

A look at Tulane, which faces USF on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium

Nickame: Green Wave
Record: 3-5 (2-2 American Athletic Conference)
Wins: Nicholls, 42-17; Memphis, 40-24; Tulsa, 24-17
Losses: Wake Forest, 23-17; at UAB, 31-24; at Ohio State, 49-6; at Cincinnati, 37-21; SMU, 27-23
Coach: Willie Fritz (third season, 12-20; 22nd season overall, 166-89)
S&P+ ranking: 95

The breakdown: Misconceptions surround the Green Wave, whose offense is more balanced than one might presume. To be sure, they employ some option, excel at controlling the clock (32:07 per game), and average 203.8 rushing yards a contest. But they also average 170.2 yards through the air (more than twice as many yards as Navy or Georgia Tech). At its core, the Tulane offense is a run-based spread scheme with some triple-option elements interspersed. LSU transfer Justin McMillan is the engineer, having replaced senior Jonathan Banks. In his first start since leading Cedar Hill (Texas) High to a state title in 2014, McMillan finished 10-for-19 for 92 yards, and ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries, in Saturday's victory at Tulsa. Tulane trailed 17-7 in the third quarter of that game before rallying. "I thought he did a good job of having a calmness to him, and he's a smart kid," Fritz said. "He really knows what's going on, where the ball should go based on the pre-snap look, and he's running the ball. He's starting to get into the run game, and we've got to have that with our quarterback." Anchoring the offense is the ball-carrying duo of junior Darius Bradwell (6-foot-1, 230 pounds) and redshirt junior Corey Dauphine (6-0, 200), who have combined for 1,138 yards and 12 TDs. Defensively, Tulane ranks third in the AAC against the run (155.0 ypg), but is allowing 263.4 yards through the air. Watch for 255-pound sophomore DE/OLB Patrick Johnson, who had four tackles, 1 1/2 tackles for loss and a sack against Tulsa. According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson didn't allow a completion on any of the six times he dropped into coverage. Fifth-year senior CB Donnie Lewis has a team-best three interceptions.

Odds & ends: The Green Wave have scored on 16 of 17 red-zone possessions, including 13 TDs. … Bradwell has scored at least one TD in six consecutive games. … The Green Wave had more than a 15-minute edge in time of possession against Tulsa (37:56-22:04). … Freshman RB Ygenio Booker (Hernando) is the only bay area product on the Tulane roster.

Audible: "They're big backs and they're really physical and they're downhill runners. The thing they do is, they're gonna try to run you over, so there's no quickness to 'em at all. They're just power backs that run behind their pads, so we're gonna have to be able to tackle well." — USF coach Charlie Strong on the tailback tandem of Bradwell and Dauphine


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