Riptide’s Reflections | Forming the Brick Wall

Jeremy Rosen and Mark Keplinger

Linebacker Dorian Williams had an interception against Alcorn St. (Parker Waters)

Riptide’s Reflections is The Tulane Hullabaloo’s weekly column talking all things Tulane football. Join us every Wednesday for in-depth coverage, analysis and opinion of the Green Wave.

The Green Wave defense has completely revitalized itself after the terrible 2021 season. Last season, the team had the third worst defense in the whole American Athletic Conference, giving up 34 points a game. In their last game against Alcorn State, Tulane had their first shutout as a team since 1997.

The defense’s performance last Saturday was the most impressive the program has had in recent memory. Only giving up 109 yards of total offense, the defense forced Alcorn State to fight for every single inch with little success. The Braves were only able to get four first downs the entire game, compared to Tulane’s impressive 31. The electric defense helped fuel the offense on their way to 52 points and 558 yards of offense. 

The energy on the defensive side of the ball is completely different compared to last year. The team played with effort and grit on every play, not giving their opponents any easy yards. Alcorn State had the chance to put points on the board with a 43-yard field goal on their first drive of the match. However, the Green Wave defense displayed maximum effort to block the field goal attempt.

Seniors like Dorian Williams and Larry Brooks have solidified themselves as veteran leaders for the Green Wave defense. Brooks already has 13 tackles throughout the first two games, along with a forced fumble against UMass. Williams got a whopping 10 tackles in the season opener, and got his first interception of the season against Alcorn State.

On the latest episode of The Current, head coach Willie Fritz talked highly about Williams and his impact on the team. He praised the linebacker for his tenacity and toughness, saying “he’s got some things you can’t teach.”

The Green Wave will face its first true test of the season against a dominant Kansas State team this Saturday. The Wildcats are averaging 37 points a game so far this season, and have only given up 12 total points through their first two games. Although their two wins have come against middling competition, K-State is considered by analysts to be one of the top teams in the Big 12 this season.

RB Deuce Vaughn running in for a touchdown against South Dakota
(Macey Franko | Collegian Media Group)

The key for the Tulane defense is to do everything possible to slow down the Wildcat’s star running back Deuce Vaughn. He was one of the best running backs in the nation last season, earning First Team All-American honors and rushing for over 1400 yards. Vaugh has shown no signs of slowing down this season, as he already has 271 yards and three touchdowns through the first two games.

Stopping the shifty back’s run game will be critical in this matchup. If the Green Wave defense can force K-State to throw the ball instead of running the ball down the middle every down, they can create enough breathing room for Michael Pratt and the offense to keep up.

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