Opinion: Lee’s injury gives Montana another opportunity to win

David Holden, Staff Reporter

It’s funny how much can change in a year. This time last year, Tulane football’s record stood at 5-2 overall and 3-0 in Conference USA play and its opportunistic defense had just led the team to a thrilling 36-33 triple overtime victory against East Carolina at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The defense last season made up for subpar quarterback play with turnover magic. This year, however, the Green Wave has fallen to 2-4 overall and 1-1 American Athletic Conference and its defense has not been able to mask poor quarterback play. 

During preseason, the hype surrounding redshirt freshman quarterback Tanner Lee was through the roof. Lee was supposed to solve the quarterback issues that have plagued the Wave since the days of Shaun King.

While Lee has displayed his talent, he has also played like a freshman. Lee has had moments that made fans scratch their heads and has made throws that caused fans to curse his name.

Lee, however, is not entirely to blame. Head coach Curtis Johnson and offensive coordinator Eric Price are asking too much from the freshman. Lee’s injury could actually be a blessing in disguise. This recent setback gives Lee an opportunity to settle down, reflect on what he’s done well and poorly, and continue to learn the offense.

Lee has the most talent of any of the quarterbacks. If he can get healthy and start reading defenses correctly, the passing attack will be deadly. Until that day comes, however, Tulane faces an uphill battle and will have to rely on redshirt senior quarterback Nick Montana.

Montana has only played one game this season against a mediocre Connecticut, but he did just enough to lead the Wave to a 12-3 victory. Montana, in a way, is like Tim Tebow: his brand of football is not the most aesthetically pleasing but the end result is a win. 

Last season, Montana led Tulane to its first winning season since the 2002-03 season. Montana, despite unimpressive statistics, has shown that he is a winner.

For now, Montana has only one job: not to turn the ball over. The Wave can rely on redshirt sophomore running back Lazederick Thompson and redshirt freshman running back Sherman Badie, who is averaging 7.2 yards per carry, to produce for the offense. It has successfully done this, checking the ball down to open receivers or throwing the ball away to live another down.

While Tulane will face a challenge against Central Florida Saturday, a win is more than plausible. UCF allowed BYU’s backup quarterback to pass for 326 yards in its win last week and with Lee likely out, it is Montana’s job to step behind center and make the easy throws. If he can do that, the Green Wave may not be the 20-point underdogs everyone thinks they are.