Tulane football looks to rebound in 2022

Mark Keplinger, Sports Editor

Following a disappointing 2021 campaign where the team finished 2-10, Tulane football will look to rebound starting on Sept. 3 when the Green Wave hosts the Massachusetts Minutemen at Yulman Stadium. Despite their poor performance last season, there is much optimism that the team will significantly improve this year.

On Sept. 10, the Alcorn State Braves will come to New Orleans before Tulane travels to Manhattan, Kansas to take on the Kansas State Wildcats. Tulane’s first three games will all be broadcast on ESPN+. Tulane finishes out non-conference play with a rivalry match against the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles in the Battle for the Bell.

Tulane opens conference play on ESPN on the road against the Houston Cougars on Sep. 30 before hosting the East Carolina Pirates on Oct. 8. The Green Wave will travel to take on the South Florida Bulls on Oct. 15 before Tulane has its homecoming game on Oct. 22 against the Memphis Tigers. 

After a bye week, Tulane travels to face the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes on Nov. 5 before a two game homestand on Nov. 12 and 17 against the Central Florida Knights and SMU Mustangs respectively, with the SMU game being on ESPN. The Green Wave will finish their regular season on the road at the Cincinnati Bearcats on Nov. 26. Although, this date is subject to change.

Leading the offense for Tulane once again is junior quarterback Michael Pratt. Pratt is a dynamic, tough running, dual threat quarterback who threw for 21 touchdowns against eight interceptions. His throwing has improved since his freshman year, with the Florida native averaging 37 more yards per game on a higher completion percentage — 58%. With his legs, the quarterback ran in for five touchdowns last season. 

In the backfield, the Green Wave will look for a big season from Tyjae Spears. The Ponchatoula, Louisiana product rushed for 863 yards and nine touchdowns last season, with his speed and elusiveness causing problems for defenders. Spears had a season high 264 yards rushing in last year’s loss to Memphis. Joining Spears is Cameron Carroll, who added 516 yards rushing of his own last year. His 2020 campaign saw him explode for 741 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns.

In the air, wide receivers Jha’Quan Jackson, Duece Watts, Phat Watts and Shae Wyatt will most likely be Pratt’s primary targets. Duece Watts and Jackson will need to rediscover their 2020 form as both players took a step back in production last season. Tight ends Tyrick James and Will Wallace will also look to contribute in the passing game.

On defense, Tulane’s heart is at their center, with veteran linebackers Dorian Williams and Nick Anderson leading the way. Both players are hard hitting defenders with great range and have proven themselves countless times in previous seasons.

The secondary will welcome back Jadon Canady as well as safety tandem Macon Clark and Larry Brooks. Boosting this group is transfer Jarius Monroe, who excelled and won all-conference honors in his previous two years at Nicholls State University.

At the helm once again is head coach Willie Fritz. Although the team struggled last year, Tulane has played in three-straight bowl games before under Fritz, winning two of them. Fritz’s best ever finish is 7-6 in both 2018 and 2019, with both years seeing the Green Wave win their bowl game.

Chris Hampton will return for his second season as Tulane’s defensive coordinator. Last season, Hampton’s defense was shredded in several games with particularly bad outings against the Ole Miss Rebels, SMU Mustangs and the ECU Pirates. The unit significantly improved over the course of the year, however, with the defense limiting high powered offenses in UCF and Cincinnati down the stretch. 

The offense will be under a new offensive coordinator with the hiring of Jim Svoboda. Svoboda was previously the head coach of Division II program the University of Central Missouri. The Mules were a winning team with a potent passing attack under Svoboda, and Fritz is hoping that this success will translate to the next level.

Green Wave fans should be excited about this group as another year of Tulane football is set to begin. Tulane opens against a weak UMass team, which only managed a single victory last season and was often blown out in every competition. The Tulane Hullabaloo will provide extensive coverage of the season including game recaps and a weekly column, Riptide’s Reflections, discussing all things Tulane football.

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