OPINION: Green Wave to be a strong contender against UMass

Aaron Wolf, Contributing Reporter

Tulane football (2-2, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) is coming off of a victory in one of the most thrilling games the program has ever experienced.  

On Saturday, after a Tulane-record four overtimes had to be played, Coach Willie Fritz and the Green Wave were finally able to take down their in-state rivals, the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (2-2, 1-0 Sun Belt Conference) in a riveting back-and-forth matchup.  

The Wave must quickly turn its attention this week to yet another difficult matchup. On Saturday, October 1, the Green Wave will play against the University of Massachusetts Minutemen (1-3, 0-0 Mid-American Conference), its fourth non-conference opponent of the year.

UMass is coming off a tough loss to a Southeastern Conference team in Mississippi State. An unprecedented upset victory seemed possible as late as the third quarter, with the Minutemen up 21-20, but in the end the team’s defense simply could not hold up against a dynamic SEC offense, allowing 598 total yards in a 47-35 loss.  

The Minutemen defense may have a tough time recovering from a disappointing performance as they go up against a Green Wave offense with a great deal of momentum on its side.

Tulane’s passing attack finally got going last week as sophomore quarterback Glen Cuillette threw for 165 yards and four touchdowns in his most successful game of the season. Cuillette played well enough to earn the starting nod this week with Coach Fritz. 

“[Glen]’s going be our guy on Saturday,” Fritz said. “He played well against [Louisiana-Lafayette], and we think he’ll do a good job.” 

Much of Cuillette’s success against the Ragin’ Cajuns can be credited to a newly-emerging offensive weapon, sophomore wide receiver Terren Encalade, who caught three of those touchdowns passes and picked up 103 yards receiving.

Look for Tulane to utilize its experienced running backs often against the Minutemen defense, which allowed 299 rushing yards last week, but not to shy away from the passing game as it had in previous games.

When comparing the two teams’ records, Tulane has the advantage, but it should be noted that UMass faced a ranked opponent in Florida week one and then another team from the extremely tough SEC in Mississippi State. For a program that was just recently promoted to the FBS in 2012, losing by just a combined 29 points in these two match-ups is quite respectable.

If Minutemen quarterback, Andrew Ford, can be more cautious with the ball after throwing three interceptions last week, he certainly has the ability to exploit some of the weaknesses still prevalent in the Green Wave defense.

This game will be the Green Wave’s final non-conference test of the season.

The game is at 2:30 p.m. CT in Amherst, Mass. and can be streamed live on ESPN3 and AMSN.

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