While scrolling Twitter on Saturday, I got the impression that Tulane football was having a good day (thanks, @FearTheWaveBlog). Upon further research, “good” was a massive understatement.
The Green Wave (4-1, 1-0 The American) hung 42 points on Army, the most points the Black Knights have given up since 2017. They completely dominated in the rushing game, having six players rush the ball at least five times. Of those six, five of them had at least 40 yards, and a different combination of five each had a rushing touchdown.
The Huskies (1-4, 0-2 The American) have also had success in the running game, with back Kevin Mensah leading the team in scrimmage yards with 409, 398 of which came on the ground. Last week, Mensah became the ninth player in UConn history to reach the 2,000 career rushing yard mark, picking up 70 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Change of pace back Art Thompkins is second on the team in scrimmage yards with 297, with about 60% of it coming on the ground.
However, despite how successful the Huskies’ rushing attack has been, they’ve had an even harder time defending it. They’ve given up just 1,000 rushing yards already this season, including 313 last week against USF. Tulane is No. 5 in the country in rushing yards per game with 283.4, and junior defensive back and captain Tyler Coyle knows it is something they will need to improve on and focus on.
“These last couple games we’ve been giving up a lot of rushing yards, and they see that,” Coyle said. “They’re going to watch the same film that we watch, and they’re going to try to run the ball and we’re going to try our hardest to stop them.”
It was Darius Bradwell who led Tulane in carries against Army, taking 12 of them for 70 yards on the day. However, fellow back Corey Dauphine just beat him out in yards, as he took nine carries for 75. Tulane even got work for backs that didn’t even make the two-deep (yes, Tulane gives out a two-deep), as redshirt freshman Cameron Carroll had five carries for 55 yards and a score, highlighted by a 41-yard touchdown run.
Quarterback Justin McMillan isn’t an overly spectacular passer, averaging just 162 passing yards per game this season with six touchdowns, two picks and a completion percentage of just under 55%. However, what he lacks in arm talent, he makes up for with athleticism.
McMillan didn’t have the yardage to show for it last week with only 19 yards (and a touchdown). He is still very mobile, something that UConn had a hard time defending last week against USF, when they allowed Bulls quarterback Jordan McCloud to rush for 64 yards and a touchdown. Currently third on the team with 264 rushing yards, McMillan could give the Huskies fits if he gets out of the pocket.
“Everybody’s got to do their job,” Coyle said. “You gotta do your job … and if the quarterback’s your job, you gotta do your job.”
The Tulane aerial attack was limited but efficient vs. Army, with McMillan going 15 of 21 for 201 yards and one touchdown, their only score that did not come on the ground. It was Amare Jones who caught the pass, as he was also the leading receiver–taking in six passes for 104 yards and the aforementioned score. He also tacked on another 65 yards and a score on the ground, bring his total up over the 150-yard mark on the day.
Jones is–you guessed it–a running back. Listed in the two-deep as the starting slotback, he is tied for the most reception on the team with 15. His 388 scrimmage yards lead the team and he is also tied for the lead in rushing/receiving touchdowns with five. He’ll be one name to keep an eye on this Saturday.
Tulane, while not appearing in the AP Poll or Coaches Poll, they received votes in each ranking. There are currently three schools from the American Athletic Conference in the AP Top-25 (SMU, Memphis and Cincinnati), and Tulane has received the fifth-most votes of any school who missed the cut.
The Huskies are away this week, and kickoff is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12, at Yulman Stadium in New Orleans. The game can be watched on ESPNU.
Jorge Eckardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at Jorge.firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @jorge_eckardt31