Football hopes for second win of season against UCF Knights

Chandler Daddario, Associate Sports Editor

The Green Wave is looking to build upon last week’s success and achieve its second win of the season against Central Florida at 11 a.m. Saturday at Yulman Stadium.

This matchup marks the beginning of conference play for Tulane football, which holds an undefeated conference home opening record against American Athletic Conference opponents since entering the conference in 2014.

Last week, the Tulane Green Wave defeated Maine 38-7 with noticeable improvements, and Tulane football head coach Curtis Johnson was impressed with how the team performed with confidence.

“I wish all of them [games] were like this to get some confidence,” Johnson said. “The one thing you don’t know with players who did not have much confidence is how well [they’re going to be ready to play]. I was just so nervous, praying the whole time before the game. I’m telling you they came out and played well. They were excited and showed enthusiasm on the sideline. They looked like a whole different team.”

With consistent play from Tulane, especially the running back duo that includes sophomore Dontrell Hilliard and redshirt sophomore Sherman Badie, the Green Wave will have an easier time getting the desired second win of the season.

The two players managed to combine for 341 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns last week. They also produced three plays over 50 yards. On the defensive side, junior linebacker Nico Marley has a total of 23 solo tackles so far this season, which places him second in the AAC and fifth nationally.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Tanner Lee’s continued success with redshirt junior wide receiver Devon Breaux throughout this season is crucial for this weekend’s matchup. Breaux’s 22.38 yards per reception ranks him 15th nationally and fourth in the AAC.

Coach Johnson has seen improvements throughout Lee’s game this season and hopes to see his efforts pay off even more.

“Well, he was calm in the pocket,” Johnson said. “He looked like he wasn’t on edge as much, just much, much calmer. I thought he threw the ball extremely well and made great decisions. If he continues to do that, I think he’ll be successful.”

The game has an earlier start time than the team is used to, but Coach Johnson seems confident that this can be to its benefit.

“Well one of the things we do is practice in the morning,” Johnson said. “Our practice starts at 8:40 a.m. I thought we would have more day games so that’s why we practice at that time. I think it’s outstanding for us. We’ll be up and ready. Our kids get here around 7:30 every morning so I think this will help us and be an advantage for us.”

The UCF Knights are hoping to get their first win of the season against the Tulane Green Wave. The Knights are reigning back-to-back AAC champions. They also have maintained a 15-1 overall record in conference play since 2013, when the AAC was created. UCF will have their quarterback, Justin Holman, back this weekend against the Green Wave.

Coach Johnson understands that this conference matchup is crucial for the team and knows how important this win would be.

“This game is going to be tough as nails,” Johnson said. “UCF knows the conference, knows everybody. It’s going to be one of those games where they’re going to pull out all the stops. They’re going to come in here ready to play.”