Tigers Upended By Tulane, Fall To 0-2 In AAC

Tulane broke an 11-game losing streak to Memphis, winning in the series for the first time since 2000. Tulane gets a potential season-changing win after starting 1-3, while Memphis falls to 0-2 in the AAC after high expectations coming into the season.

Tulane Controls First Half

The first drive of the game by the Tulane Green Wave set the tone for the rest of the evening. Senior quarterback Jonathan Banks scrambled for a first down on the first play from scrimmage before hitting receiver Darnell Mooney for a 1st down on the very next play.

Tulane went on to convert a 3rd-and-10 as well as overcoming two penalties prior to Corey Dauphine getting into the end zone from 2 yards out. Tulane was able to do whatever they wanted on this drive as Memphis defense came out with very little energy. The opening drive went for 75 yards on 12 plays, elapsing 5:44 of game time to put the Green Wave up 7-0.

Memphis linebacker Austin Hall would recover an onside kick attempt from Tulane following the touchdown. Heisman hopeful Darrell Henderson then took a handoff on the Tigers first offensive play from scrimmage and rambled 47 yards to pull the Tigers even.

Unfortunately that would be the closest Memphis got the rest of the game, as Tulane continued to dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The Tigers defense appeared to have no answer for the Green Wave’s rushing attack as Tulane finished the game with 318 rushing yards.

Following Henderson’s touchdown to tie the game, the Memphis defense had a chance to get off the field as Tulane coach Willie Fritz decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from his own 47. Darius Bradwell took the handoff 53 yards to the house to cap off another 75 yard drive for the Green Wave.

The teams traded punts for the following 5 possessions before closing the half on a 20-yard field goal by Merek Glover. The kick capped off another drive that saw Tulane gain 71 yards and chew 6:58 off the game clock. The Tigers defense allowed Tulane to pick up 189 yards on the ground in the first half and 281 overall, compared to just 135 total yards for Memphis.


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Tigers Show Some Life

Opening the second half, Memphis appeared ready to make a run and get back in the game. Brady White came out slinging as Mike Norvell appeared intent to air it out, as the Tulane defense had been meeting Darrell Henderson behind the line of scrimmage after his 1st quarter touchdown run. Henderson would finish with just 7 rushing attempts, which is something that cannot stand. The Tigers have to find a way to open up the ground game.

White hit receivers Pop Williams and Damonte Coxie for first downs, before Henderson lined up as a receiver and hauled in a 43-yard deep ball for a touchdown. This brought the score to 14-17 and momentum appeared to have shifted the way of the Tigers. White was 4-7 on the drive, and the Memphis defense then forced a turnover on downs of Tulane’s ensuing drive.

Memphis Momentum Gone, Tulane Takes Over

Memphis responded with two plays that were absolutely blown up by the Green Wave defensive front, as Henderson was hit as soon as the ball hit his midsection on first down and White getting sacked almost immediately on the following play. A screen for 4 yards then forced Memphis to punt for a 3-and-out of their own.

Tulane appeared to be marching down the field again, before two big tackles by Bryce Huff led to another Tulane punt, this one being downed at the Memphis 5. Huff would finish the game with 9 total tackles, 5 TFL, and 2 sacks. Memphis again went 3-and-out on 3 straight incompletions by White, and Tulane got the ball back at their own 46 as an onslaught ensued.

Banks, the Green Wave QB, was injured as time was winding down in the 3rd quarter forcing Tulane to call a timeout. Backup QB Justin McMillan entered the game, and Memphis DC Chris Ball sent a blitz his way, but the backup found a wide-open Mooney on the sideline who ran 51 yards untouched to put Tulane up 24-14 to close out the quarter.

To open the 4th quarter, Henderson hesitated on the kick return when deciding if he wanted to bring the ball out of the end zone which ended with him being tackled at the 10-yard line. Following 2 incomplete passes, Brady White was sacked and fumbled the ball into the end zone, before right tackle Roger Joseph scooped the ball off the turf and fell down for a safety.

White was sacked 7 times on the night for a loss of 47 yards. Tulane was obviously comfortable stacking the box and sending heavy blitz packages to eliminate the threat of Henderson on the ground and making White uncomfortable all night. White does not seem to have great pocket awareness, or maybe he just doesn’t have great balance, but he appears to go down with the slightest of touches from the defense. He has to get better at moving around in the pocket and avoid pressure, or there will be plenty more games like this one for Memphis.

Following the safety, Corey Dauphine turned the corner on 3rd and 8 darting 46 yards to the end zone making it 33-14 Tulane. McMillan stayed in the game at QB, but would not have to attempt another pass in the entire 4th quarter as the Memphis defense could not stop the run.

Memphis then went 3-and-out and went for it on 4th and 2 yards to go from their own 27, when White overthrew Coxie. Darius Bradwell then ran the second Tulane play 25 yards putting the Green Wave up 40-14.

Memphis got a late score on a pass to Tony Pollard and Riley Patterson added a 43-yard field goal to make the score much closer than the game actually was.

Game Statistics

Darrell Henderson finished with just 7 carries for 51 yards, 47 coming on the TD run, and 2 receptions for 47 yards and a TD. White finished 14-30 with 246 yards and 2 scores. Leading receiver Damonte Coxie had 5 receptions for 67 yards coming off of back-to-back 100 yard games.

The experienced offensive line of Memphis was dominated by the defensive front of the Green Wave in a way we haven’t seen in a while. This group, along with Brady White being better navigating the pocket, will be crucial to the offense’s success going forward in conference play.

Strong safety Tyrez Lindsey finished with 13 tackles to go along with the big night from Huff. Curtis Akins added 9 stops, while linemen Jonathon Wilson and JoJo Dorceus each added 6 tackles, and a sack for Dorceus. The defense was on the field for most of the game with Tulane winning the time of possession battle, 37:35 to just 20:21 for the Tigers.

Parting Thoughts

There is no sugarcoating this one, Memphis straight up got their ass kicked from start to finish by an inferior Tulane team that simply wanted it more. We will learn a lot about this team over the next few weeks in how they respond to this loss. They can continue to compete and make something out of this season after the second disappointing loss or throw in the towel and play below their talent level like they did today.

-@BarnBurnerSlim

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[Header Image: Nola.com/ The Times-Picayune]

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