Wave finish season Saturday against bowl-hungry Temple

Tanner+Lee+throws+the+ball+in+a+34-6+loss+at+East+Carolina+Nov.+22+in+Greenville%2C+NC.+Lee+has+thrown+for+1%2C853+yards+with+a+55.8+percent+completion+rate+along+with+12+touchdowns+and+14+interceptions+this+season.%C2%A0

Tanner Lee throws the ball in a 34-6 loss at East Carolina Nov. 22 in Greenville, NC. Lee has thrown for 1,853 yards with a 55.8 percent completion rate along with 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions this season. 

Dara Tuckers, Staff Reporter

Tulane football (3-8, 2-5 American Athletic Conference) concludes its season when it faces Temple (5-6, 3-4 AAC) 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Yulman Stadium. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.

While this may be Tulane’s final game of the season, the stakes are much higher for Temple. With a victory, Temple would become bowl eligible, a significant turnaround from its 2-10 campaign a year ago.

Temple’s success has largely been due to its improvement on the defensive side of the football. The defense has surrendered an average of 18.8 points per game this season, which is 11th-best in the nation. Temple also thrives off creating turnovers; its 29 takeaways rank them among the nation’s top six.

The Temple offense will pose a threat to the Green Wave Saturday. Tulane will look to put consistent pressure on Temple sophomore quarterback P.J. Walker. Walker has been adequately protected by his offensive line, which has surrendered only 20 sacks this year. Walker has tossed for 2,062 yards and 12 touchdowns, and has rushed for 248 yards and 3 touchdowns. 

“[Temple is] a very, very good football team,” Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said. “They play outstanding defense and it’s going to be a tough game for us.”

Tulane will look to continue to force turnovers as it has all season to beat Temple. The Wave’s streak of 19 consecutive games of forcing at least one turnover was snapped in its 34-6 loss to East Carolina on Nov. 22. Redshirt freshman cornerback Parry Nickerson, with a team-leading six interceptions, will be looked upon to lead the defense this Saturday.

On the offensive side of the football, Tulane will look to show more signs of life. Redshirt freshman quarterback Tanner Lee performed well against East Carolina, throwing for a career-high 301 yards but the offense was unable to score a touchdown on the day.

On the season, Lee has completed 169 out of 303 passes for 1,853 yards and 12 touchdowns, each of which is a Tulane freshman record.

Even with Lee’s success, however, Johnson stressed the importance of executing in the red zone in order to put up points on Saturday.

“[The red zone is] a time that the field shrinks and it gets a little harder,” Johnson said. “You get down to the red zone or you get in a third-down situation, there can be a little more pressure.”

While there is no bowl game berth riding on this matchup, Johnson was clear that this is no throwaway game and that his team will come out ready to play.

“Whenever you’re playing, it’s for something,” Johnson said. “I think we’re playing for a lot and [the players] are going to want to play well for all of their parents and everybody who wants to come to this game. This will be the game that everybody wants to shine in.”