Johnson must evaluate team as season ends

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Williams Potts, Associate Sports Editor

Tulane (3-7, 2-4 American Athletic Conference) fell apart against conference foe Memphis (7-3, 5-1 AAC) in its first on-campus Homecoming game in 40 years Saturday at Yulman Stadium.

Turnovers, which have been the Wave’s kryptonite all-season long, decided what would have otherwise been a competitive matchup, as Memphis cruised to a 38-7 victory. 

Memphis set the tone, intercepting a wayward pass by redshirt freshman quarterback Tanner Lee and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown on the Wave’s first offensive play of the game. The early miscue disheartened an already demoralized the Green Wave team.

Lee’s unreliable accuracy further plagued Tulane. Lee threw two more interceptions and his third was returned 58 yards for a touchdown. Despite the five costly turnovers, the offense was able to effectively move the ball when it held on to it, converting 21 first downs. 

The Wave threw for just 196 yards but dominated time of possession, holding the ball for nearly eight more minutes than the Tigers. The Wave also converted on third down 19 percent more often.

The turnovers, however, were just too much to overcome for Tulane’s young and inexperienced offense. 

Tulane’s defense delivered an impressive effort but it could not stop a Memphis offense which was continuously gifted premier field position by Tulane’s sloppy offensive play.

In addition to Lee’s three interceptions, the Wave’s running backs also fumbled the ball twice. The Tiger’s effectively capitalized on these mistakes, converting 21 of their 38 total points off of the turnovers.

Statistically, the Wave competed with Memphis. Turnovers were the difference maker.

It is rare that a team competes yet loses in such emphatic fashion but the Green Wave has made a habit of it. Tulane’s skill and talent ranks with those of the AAC conference contenders, yet on game day, it lacks the fundamentals and consistency needed to win regularly.

Lee’s inexperience and poor decision making at the quarterback position, while far from the only factor hampering Tulane’s success, has time and again taken the Wave out of winning opportunities.

With just two games left in the season, head coach Curtis Johnson must evaluate and decide in whose hands to place the future of the program.