Wave faces difficult challenge at Georgia Tech

Tulane+quarterback+Tanner+Lee+in+the+2015+season+opener+against+Duke.+Lee+threw+24+of+42+for+246+yards%2C+one+touchdown%2C+and+one+interception

Tulane quarterback Tanner Lee in the 2015 season opener against Duke. Lee threw 24 of 42 for 246 yards, one touchdown, and one interception

Mackenna Barker, Online Sports Editor

The odds are not in Tulane football’s favor (0-1, 0-0 AAC) as they head to Atlanta to take on No. 15 Georgia Tech (1-0, 0-0 ACC) at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

The Wave fell to Duke 37-7 in its home opener in Yulman on Sept. 3. Producing only 271 offensive yards compared to Duke’s 530, Tulane had a dismal start to the season in a performance that echoed many of the problems the team faced last year.

Tulane is not projected to perform much better at Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech is the first nationally ranked team the Wave will face under head coach Curtis Johnson, and Tulane is a heavy underdog in this matchup. The Yellow Jackets are predicted to take the win by 28 points, another commanding win after their season opening 69-6 blowout of Alcorn State.

With head coach Curtis Johnson’s announcement late Friday afternoon that senior safety Darion Monroe and redshirt freshman linebacker Eric Bowie are on a one-game suspension and will not compete at Georgia Tech, Tulane’s chances for an upset are made even more slim.

Monroe is an invaluable component to the Wave’s secondary with 259 career tackles (168 solo, 91 assists) including 16.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 10 pass break-ups, three forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. His absence this week will make containing Georgia Tech’s triple option offense even more difficult.

Georgia Tech heads into this week as almost a second opening game for the squad, as the majority of the Yellow Jackets’ starters were able to be pulled in the first two quarters against Alcorn State. Redshirt junior quarterback Justin Thomas ran for one touchdown and threw a 19-yard scoring pass in the only quarter he played.

Thomas will head into the match against Tulane well-rested after playing just a quarter last week. Last season, Thomas had five 100-yard rushing games and nine 100-yard passing games. As the trigger for Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack, he makes the Yellow Jackets’ offense a major challenge, the second ACC powerhouse offense to test the responsiveness and maturity of the Wave’s defense this season.

“I don’t know if [Georgia Tech] has a weakness,” Johnson said. “The quarterback is phenomenal. Coach [Paul] Johnson has many answers for the option. They’re a very good football team.”

Last season, Georgia Tech spoiled Tulane’s first game in Yulman Stadium ever, serving them a 38-21 loss for their home opener. The Yellow Jackets ran for 344 yards in that game, proving their triple-option attack a difficult offense for the Wave to contain.

In order for the team to prevent the expected blowout this year, the Wave will have to address all the issues that led to the loss against Duke, the same issues that were far too reminiscent of the shortcomings the squad faced in 2014. The offense and special teams must find their footing to be able to keep pace in Atlanta.

“Again, the one thing we need to do is tackle, move the ball on them, and get a lead and try to make them throw the ball and become one-dimensional,” Johnson said. “That’s how you beat the option.”

The last time the Green Wave notched a win on the road against a ranked team was in 1982 against No. 12 LSU. Georgia Tech will not make it easy for Tulane to break that streak this week.

Saturday’s game will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Southwest. Tulane men’s basketball head coach Ed Conroy and staff will hold a watch party at 2 p.m. at Bruno’s Tavern on Maple and Hillary streets.