Wave needs immediate special teams changes to win

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The Wave prepare to enter Benson Field at Yulman Stadium before its 35-20 win against Southeastern Louisiana Sept. 13. Tulane enters its first bye week of the 2014-15 season with a record of  1-4, 0-1 AAC. 

Mackenna Barker, Associate Sports Editor

Tulane football (1-4, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) heads into its first bye week this week and not a moment too soon.

Following a frustrating 31-6 loss against Rutgers Saturday, Tulane desperately needs to regroup and clean up several aspects of its game.

One major point that head coach Curtis Johnson needs to address is the special teams unit. Freshman kicker Andrew DiRocco missed another extra point against Rutgers, as well as a field goal.

Despite being one for five in field goal attempts this season, DiRocco has not yet been benched. The Green Wave’s inability to convert even the shortest of field goals has been detrimental to the offensive strategy in and near the red zone. Tulane is forced to take shots into the end zone instead of settling for three points.

Johnson should immediately make personnel changes in special teams to salvage this crucial part of the Wave’s game plan. 

The Wave has also been plagued by penalties this year. Tulane is ranked No. 1 in the country for number of penalties committed, averaging 10 penalties per game.

The Wave only committed 7 penalties against Rutgers, a season low. That, however, is not something to celebrate.

Those penalties were costly to any momentum the offense tried to summon throughout the game. 

Granted, the Green Wave is a young team with 47 underclassmen. That inexperience contributes to the high number of penalties per game. Tulane, however, needs to focus on cleaning up its game and playing disciplined, mistake-free football so it can truly capitalize on its high level of young talent.

“We’re playing a lot of young guys,” Johnson said. “They get in the game and are a little bright-eyed and just can’t sustain it.”

Tulane has two weeks to prepare for its second game of conference play the season against Connecticut (1-4, 0-2 AAC). UConn’s young team has also struggled this season with turnovers and mistakes. UConn lost its starting quarterback earlier this season to a concussion and has dealt with offensive shortcomings.

If Tulane can capitalize on UConn’s mistakes and offensive inabilities, the Green Wave, assuming it cleans up its act, will pick up a much needed win and get its season back on track.