Tulane football looks to shine in national spotlight in 2021

Jude Papillion and Mark Keplinger

Tulane Green Wave football will kick off their 2021-2022 season on Sept. 4 with a tough matchup against the University of Oklahoma Sooners. Last season, the team finished 6-6 and fell to the University of Nevada in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. In 2021, the Green Wave hopes to improve on its record in conference play after finishing 3-5 in the American Athletic Conference last season.

Tulane’s 2021-22 campaign will kick-off on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 11a.m. against the nationally second-ranked University of Oklahoma Sooners at Yulman Stadium. The game will also be broadcast nationally on ABC. Oklahoma is undoubtedly the most prominent opponent to travel to Yulman Stadium in its history. According to FanDuel, the Sooners are 25.5 point favorites over the Green Wave.  

On Sept. 11, the Morgan State University Bears will travel to Yulman to face the Green Wave in a matchup slated to be broadcast on ESPN+. On Sept. 19, Tulane will play in its second Power Five conference matchup of the season, this time traveling to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi to face the Ole Miss Rebels. The matchup against the Rebels will be broadcast on ESPN2. The Green Wave will then return home on Sept. 25 to face the University of Alabama Birmingham Blazers. 

The Olive and Green will begin conference play on Oct. 2, when the team travels to Greenville, North Carolina to battle the East Carolina University Pirates before playing the University of Houston in a Thursday night battle at home on ESPN on Oct. 7. Following a bye week, the Green Wave will play on ESPN again, this time in a road matchup against Southern Methodist University in Dallas on Thursday Oct. 21. 

The Green Wave will wrap up its regular season with five more interconference games beginning with University of Cincinnati at home on Oct. 30, before traveling to Orlando to face the University of Central Florida. Tulane Football will return to New Orleans for a two-game homestand, facing University of Tulsa on Nov. 13 and University of South Florida on Nov. 20 before ending the regular season with a road matchup against the University of Memphis Tigers on Nov. 27. 

Sophomore quarterback Michael Pratt will look to continue off of a strong freshman year campaign. Pratt threw for 20 touchdowns and ran for eight more as he led the Green Wave offense to average 34.7 points per game, the 22nd best in the nation.

Jha’Quan Jackson and Deuce Watts headline a receiving corps that will hope to add versatility and danger to the Tulane offense. Jackson hauled in eight touchdowns last season, while Watts received six. Both had minor injuries during the offseason but should be healthy to start week one.

Leading the defense is linebacker Dorian Williams, who led the team in tackles last season. A strong and capable defender, Williams will be without former teammates Cameron Sample and Patrick Johnson, both of whom were drafted into the NFL.

Tulane hired Chip Long as its new offensive coordinator during the offseason, replacing Will Hall. In two years at Tulane, Hall had the second and fourth highest scoring offenses in Tulane Football history. Long is Hall’s best friend, and Long previously coached at Notre Dame from 2017 to 2019 as offensive coordinator, leading the Irish to a 32-6 record and a College Football Playoff berth in 2018. Long was a finalist for the Broyles’ Award, honoring the nation’s top assistant coach in 2018.  

Head Coach Willie Fritz is back for his seventh season in Uptown New Orleans, continuing to improve on a program he helped revitalize. In 24 seasons as an NCAA head coach, Fritz holds a record of 183-102. In his previous six campaigns with the Green Wave, Fritz is 29-33 which includes two postseason bowl game victories.