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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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New era of Tulane football takes center stage in spring game

Kai Horton to compete for starting quarterback job at Tulane’s spring football game (Courtesy of Courtney Luquet)

This Saturday, while most Tulane University students stuff themselves with crawfish, a new era of Tulane University Green Wave football begins. Led by new head coach Jon Sumrall, the Wave are set to take the field Saturday at Yulman Stadium for the first time since the conference championship game in their spring football game. 

This time, however, it will be against themselves. 

With many new faces as well as the return of some familiar ones, here is everything to look out for on Saturday at the spring game: 

Competition at quarterback

The main storyline throughout spring practice has been figuring out the next starting quarterback. The two candidates are returning former backup quarterback Kai Horton and star transfer Ty Thompson. Horton has experience as Tulane’s starting quarterback, taking on the role namely against the Ole Miss Rebels this past season, as well as leading the team against the University of Houston two seasons ago. 

His competitor, Thompson, is arguably the best transfer Tulane football has ever gotten. As a five-star overall prospect coming out of high school, Thompson has never started a college football game. His minutes at the University of Oregon came at the end of blowout wins. 

Throughout practice, both quarterbacks have taken reps with the first team and had highs and lows throughout the scrimmages. The spring game will be a good test to see who is ready to take on that starting role and replace the record-breaking Michael Pratt. 

Skill players

While Makhi Hughes is set to remain the starting running back after a great freshman season, the outside of Tulane’s offense will be filled with many new faces. 

One of the standouts has been Shazz Preston, a four-star high school recruit who transferred to Tulane from the University of Alabama. Preston’s speed has shined throughout the preseason, including taking a screen pass from Thompson 56 yards to the end zone. 

It will also be fun to see the speedy Mario Williams this weekend. A transfer from the University of Southern California, Tulane fans will be familiar with Willaims after his debacle in the Cotton Bowl. With over 1,000 yards receiving throughout his collegiate career, Williams is sure to make a big splash in a Tulane uniform. 

Defense

Throughout his tenure at Troy University, Sumrall hung his hat on defense. Last season, the Trojans ranked 14th in the nation in total defense, holding opponents to the 10th fewest points

Thankfully for Tulane, Sumrall was able to bring a lot of that defense with him, including former Troy defensive coordinator, Greg Gasparato. One standout so far has been safety Chris Rodgers, who had 15 total tackles last season at Troy. Rodgers has already made an impact at practice, blowing up a handoff during the scrimmage on April 13. 

In addition to the former Trojans, Tulane has seen returning players take a leap forward under Sumrall and the new defense. One of these players is linebacker Makai Williams, who despite only finishing last season with two tackles in a reduced role, has taken advantage of his opportunities in the scrimmages. Williams recorded two sacks in one possession, ending the Thompson-led drive. 

While fans will certainly want to see the offense put on a show at the spring game, the defense will have to prove themselves and live up to expectations placed under them after Sumrall’s hiring. 

The spring game will take place on Saturday, April 20, with scrimmages set to start at 10 a.m.

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