Tulane defense needs to step up against Temple
Tulane has allowed an excessive amount of yards during its three-game losing streak.
The total in that stretch is 1,746 yards.
The Green Wave (2-4, 0-4 American Athletic Conference) hope to reduce that rate of opponent production when they host Temple (1-2, 1-2) in an AAC battle on Saturday.
Tulane allowed 689 total yards in a 51-34 loss at UCF last week.
“We get in the film room and learn from our previous game every week,” Green Wave defensive end Cameron Sample said. “We are getting better as a team. That’s the one thing we’re focused on right now — going into the film room and fixing our mistakes.”
The Green Wave have hurt themselves with both mental and physical breakdowns while allowing a series of big plays during the losing streak.
“Offenses are hard to just shut down like you did 20 years ago,” Tulane coach Willie Fritz said. “It’s totally different. It’s hard to shut anybody out nowadays, and when you’re not assignment-sound, it makes it very difficult.”
The Green Wave have an experienced defense that was expected to be one of the team’s strengths this season as Tulane seeks an unprecedented third straight bowl trip.
“We’re a senior-led team,” Sample said. “I feel like we’ve got the right guys as seniors and leaders on this team, and it starts with Coach Fritz’s mindset. We’ll get ready going forward for these (remaining) games.”
The Green Wave do have a lot of seniors, but their quarterback is a freshman, Michael Pratt, who will make his fourth start on Saturday. Pratt threw three touchdown passes against UCF.
“When we protect,” Fritz said, “he’s a pretty darn good, accurate quarterback.”
Temple’s Anthony Russo has been a pretty good quarterback, too.
The graduate senior is completing 68 percent of his passes and is coming off a four-touchdown performance in which he passed for 387 of his team’s 500 total yards in a 41-29 loss at Memphis.
However, Russo also had three interceptions and for the season his nine touchdown passes are offset by six interceptions.
“I’m pleased with the way he has bounced back from the turnovers, but I’m not pleased with the turnovers,” Owls coach Rod Carey said. “He’s getting over the bad plays. Now the next step is to eliminate the bad plays. We’ll have a little more emphasis on getting that corrected this week.”
Russo could be limited in practice this week after playing through a shoulder injury that he kept quiet as he threw 63 passes against Memphis.
“He wasn’t going to tell me that he banged up the shoulder during the game,” Carey said. “He’s tough.”
Russo was scheduled to undergo an MRI on the shoulder, but the Owls are hopeful he’ll be ready to start Saturday.
Despite the yards that Tulane has been allowing to some of the most prolific offenses in the country, including Houston and SMU in addition to UCF, Carey said the Green Wave have “probably the best defense all around that we have played to date.”
–Field Level Media