Key to victory against Duke depends on defense

Key+to+victory+against+Duke+depends+on+defense

Jonathan Harvey, Online Sports Editor

Tulane’s defense forced a fumble, two interceptions and held Southeastern Louisiana to 1.6 yards per carry on 36 rush attempts in the Wave’s dominating 35-20 win Saturday at Yulman Stadium. The defense, however, will have a bigger test Saturday against Duke at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Duke averages 6.5 yards per carry and averages 262.7 yards on the ground per game. The Green Wave gave up 344 rushing yards when it faced Georgia Tech, which ran an elite triple option offense that torched the Wave Sept. 6 at Yulman Stadium. If Tulane is to have any success Saturday, the defense must keep Duke’s running game in check. 

The Green Wave folded early in its first road test against Syracuse in a similar situation last September, allowing 42 points in the first half and eventually losing 52-17. Head coach Curtis Johnson has to keep the defense disciplined, so the Wave can keep Duke’s versatile offense off the field.

The defensive line wreaked havoc against Southeastern Louisiana, but hardly got into the backfield against Georgia Tech. Southeastern Louisiana is a Football Championship Subdivision team, with less talent than Georgia Tech and with a weaker offensive line. Duke’s offensive line is strong and its running game has the ability to wipe Tulane out of the game immediately.

The Wave’s secondary is solid. Senior Sam Scofield and junior Darion Monroe keep the football in front of them, and junior Lorenzo Doss puts any receiver on an island. Duke will do its damage on the ground and put more pressure on the defensive line, who have shown inconsistency the first three games.

Tulane’s offense should keep up with Duke, as redshirt freshman quarterback Tanner Lee continues to run the offense efficiently. Lee, who was shaken up toward the end of the game against Georgia Tech, will face his toughest defense yet. Duke allows only 11 points per game, which is No. 8 in the nation.

Lee has shown flashes of brilliance, as he has a knack for fitting bullet passes through tight windows in triple coverage. But he is trigger happy, which could cost the Wave heavily with turnovers against the fastest defense Tulane could see all year.

Though Duke has won its previous three games against Elon, Troy and Kansas by an average of 31 points, the Blue Devils have not faced a competitive adversary so Tulane might just turn some heads.

Prediction: The Wave will make this game closer than skeptics might think, but Duke’s prominent rushing attack will ultimately wear the defense down and Tulane will lose 35-27.