Green Wave needs improvement on special teams, offense to defeat Rutgers

Redshirt+sophomore+running+back%C2%A0Lazedrick+Thompson+runs+the+ball+in+a+47-13+loss+against+Duke+last+Saturday.+Thompson+ran+for+124+yards+and+one+touchdown+on+19+carries.%C2%A0

Redshirt sophomore running back Lazedrick Thompson runs the ball in a 47-13 loss against Duke last Saturday. Thompson ran for 124 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries. 

William Potts, Associate Sports Editor

Tulane (1-3, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) will head to Piscataway, New Jersey to face Rutgers (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) Saturday in a must-win game for Tulane. The Wave needs to rebound strongly after a 47-13 loss against Duke last Saturday.

Tulane must address several offensive, defensive and special team issues that have plagued it this season. Special teams was a point of weakness last week, as a bad snap on a punt led to a safety. Another fumbled snap was picked up by linebacker Rae Juan Marbley who tried to throw but was intercepted by Duke’s Joseph Ajeigbe for a touchdown.

Additionally, a misplayed punt return midway through the game by sophomore cornerback Richard Allen gave Duke great field position, just outside the Wave’s red zone.

Head coach Curtis Johnson said poor play by the special teams unit has been costly and detrimental to the team’s performance this season. 

“The snapper-center exchange, the snaps over the head and the direction of the kicks are the things that have really hurt us,” Johnson said. “We just have to get [those aspects] down cleaner.”

Redshirt freshman quarterback Tanner Lee’s consistency, a question mark during the first four games, will be a focus point against Rutgers’ defense. While Lee’s 9 total interceptions exemplify a lack of experience, he has demonstrated his ability and potential by fitting passes into tight defensive coverage. 

Opposing teams have consistently blitzed Lee in the pocket with success to rattle the rookie quarterback. Disciplined football with fewer careless penalties from the offense will set Lee up with better opportunities to succeed and therefore raise Tulane’s offense as a whole.

An improved and consistent offensive performance will give the Wave a great opportunity to take advantage of Rutgers’ lackluster defense, which has allowed an average of 25 points per game this season. If Tulane can clean up its mistakes on special teams, its defense should be able to control Rutgers’ rushing and passing attack, leading to a Green Wave win.

Prediction: Tulane 31 – Rutgers 28.