December 6, 2019

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Matchup Preview: Tulane Opens AAC Play on Nationally Televised Stage Against the University of Houston

Tulane (2-1, 0-0) begins AAC conference play this week against the Houston Cougars (1-2, 0-0) at Yulman Stadium on Thursday, September 19th. The game is set for a 7pm kickoff and will be nationally televised on ESPN.

The Green Wave look to sustain their success from last week’s game against Missouri St, a match that Tulane dominated 58-6. Both offensively and defensively, Tulane appeared sharp, holding Missouri St. to a pedestrian 182 total yards. Only 54 yards came on the ground for the Bears, with the remaining 128 yards accounted for by MSU QB Peyton Huslig. The Wave offense netted 540 yards against the Bear defense, rushing for 298, with QB Justin McMillan (122 yards passing) and QB Keon Howard (120 yards passing), picking up 242 through the air. 

Unfortunately for Tulane, Houston is a different beast. The Cougar’s 1-2 record is not a reflection of Houston’s skill and talent across the field. Head Coach Dana Holgorson’s squad is battle tested, already facing off against two AP top 25 teams in #5 Oklahoma and #19 Washington State. 

Tulane is yet to face a quarterback as talented as Houston’s D’Eriq King. King is equally deadly through the air, as he is on the ground. In last week’s game against WSU, King tied Tim Tebow’s 2006 NCAA record of scoring both a rushing and passing touchdown in 14 consecutive games. In 2018 King broke the AAC record for total touchdowns at 50, with 36 of those through the air and the remaining 14 accounted for on the ground. 

The Green Wave undoubtedly have their hands full with King, however, Tulane’s defense has been dominant in their first 3 games of the 2019 season, holding opposing offenses to an average of only 276 yards per game. In contrast, Houston is currently allowing nearly 500 yards of offense through 3 games, but it should be noted that the Cougars already faced former National Championship QB and Heisman front-runner Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma, along with Washington State’s Anthony Gordan, the current FBS leader in passing yards. 

Keys to the Game

Defensively, Tulane’s priority is shutting down D’Eriq King. The Green Wave secondary has been extremely stout in defending against the pass, expect King to look for running lanes when coverage is tight. Fortunately for the Wave, they have been exceptional against the run so far this season, holding opponents to only 95 yards rushing per game. King provides a different approach to the run game for Houston, something that Tulane has yet to face this year in a true dual-threat quarterback. Wave defensive end Cameron Sample has been a force for Tulane’s front seven, menacing opposing quarterbacks in the backfield all season. Sample should provide a great matchup in containing King on the edge, with nose tackles Jeffery Johnson and De’Andre Williams looking to plug up the A gaps. Green Wave leading tackler and junior linebacker Marvin Moody should also spy King for the duration of scrimmage, as taking away King’s running ability will be a huge factor for Tulane to come out with the win. 

On the offensive side of the ball, the game plan is simple. Establish the run game early and often, keeping the Cougar offense sidelined while controlling time of possession. Tulane is excelling in its rushing attack this season, averaging over 250 yards a game on the ground while getting a multitude of backs involved, along with the Wave’s current rushing leader, QB Justin McMillan. Outside of McMillan, Tulane’s rushing success comes by committee, rotating with workhorse back Darius Bradwell, Corey Dauhpine, who possesses the ability to create explosive gains of 20 or more, and do-it-all RB Amare Jones, who is equally dangerous as both a runner and receiver. 

Prediction

Tulane’s defense does enough to neutralize D’Eriq King, while the offense’s vicious rushing attack dictates the tone of the game.

Final Score: Tulane 35, Houston 32