Sept. 1, 2010
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University football team will kick off the 2010 season on Thursday, Sept. 2, when the Green Wave play host to the Southeastern Louisiana Lions in the Louisiana Superdome. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
The Green Wave will be playing in their 116th season and enter their fourth season under the direction of head coach Bob Toledo. Tulane has played Southeastern Louisiana five previous times and won each contests, including a 35-27 victory on Sept. 22, 2007 in the Dome.
The game will be carried live on the flagship station of Tulane Athletics on WIST AM 690, live stats are available on the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com via GameTracker and the game will also be streamed live on the web to paid members of the All-Access Pass. In addition, Thursday's season-opening contest against the Lions will be televised tape-delayed on WHNO at 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 3.
"I'm looking forward to playing the game and I think our entire football team is," Toledo said. "We're anxious to see where we're at to be honest. We're tired of beating on each other so it'll be interesting to see how we perform in the game.
"I personally believe we're much improved. I've said this every year since I've been here that we're a better team than the previous year. I honestly believe that. This is the best team we've had since we've been here. We're bigger, we're stronger, we're faster and we're much more athletic."
The Green Wave return 48 lettermen from a year ago - including 12 starters, 11 redshirts and six squadsmen - and welcomes 31 newcomers for the 2010 season. Among the returning starters are four offensive linemen, quarterback Ryan Griffin, wide receiver Casey Robottom, defensive tackle Chris Asumnu, cornerback Phillip Davis, as well as safeties Alex Wacha and Shakiel Smith.
The offense will have a bit of a new look in 2010 Toledo plans to use a stable of running backs which include the talents of junior Albert Williams, sophomore Payten Jason and freshman Orleans Darkwa. And while the Green Wave will remain a West Coast-oriented offense, Tulane will mix in a lot more three-wide receiver packages to help spread the field.
On defense, Wacha and Smith return as the top tacklers returning from a year ago with 77 and 71 tackles, respectively. Davis led the team with a pair of interceptions and five pass break-ups while senior defensive tackle Justin Adams is back after posting two and a half sacks in 2009 from his interior line position.
Southeastern Louisiana, meanwhile, heads to town coming off a 6-5 season and are picked to finish third in the Southland Conference. In their fourth season under head coach Mike Lucas, the Lions return a solid nucleus from the previous year as 20 starters highlight the list of 51 returning lettermen.
Four players - wide receiver Simmie Yarborough, linebacker Mark Newbill along with defensive backs Tommy Connors and Re'Keem Wilson - earned Preseason All-America status in the NCAA Division I-Football Championship Subdivision.
At quarterback, Southeastern will look to replace three-year starter Brian Babin with fifth-year senior and Baylor transfer Tyler Beatty. A veteran offensive line that returns four starters with a combined 68 Division I starts will line up to protect Beatty and open holes for running backs Zeke Jones and Sam Fairley. A full complement of receivers, paced by Yarborough, will aid Beatty as he begins his first full season as a starter.
Defensively, the Lions return 11 starters including Connor, who missed the final nine games of the 2009 season, and Devin Boutwell, who missed the entire 2009 campaign.
"They've got (20) starters coming back and have a lot of guys who have played a lot of football," Toledo said of Thursday's opponent. "They've got a lot of experience. Their wide receiver, Simmie Yarborough, is really an outstanding football player and could play for a lot of people. He led their team with 57 catches, 803 yards and 12 touchdowns. He plays tight end, wide receiver, h-back, really all over the place. When they want to make a play, they try to get the ball to him.
"They have what they term the two best safeties in the Football Championship Subdivision. Tommy Connors, who was an All-American in 2008, is a heck of a player. Re'Keem Wilson intercepted four passes last year and was first-team All-Southland Conference, as was linebacker Mark Newbill."
The last time the two teams met came in Toledo's first season at Tulane and the Green Wave got a record-setting performance from current Chicago Bears running back Matt Forté, who ran for 303 yards and five touchdowns on 40 carries to help turn a 20-14 halftime deficit into an eight-point victory.
The Tulane/SLU series dates back to 1949 when the Green Wave posted a 40-0 victory in old Tulane Stadium. Since then, Tulane had defeated the Lions 48-7 on Nov. 24, 1951, 27-17 on Nov. 9, 1985, and 28-21 on Oct. 1, 2005.
"We played them my first year here and the score was 35-27," Toledo said. "It's not like we blew them out of the tub. It was a very competitive football game. I think our players realize that these guys are coming into the Dome - a place where a lot of their players have played in championship games - and they're going to be excited.
"We have to match their enthusiasm and we have to worry about ourselves. We have to keep from losing games, and that's what we've done in the past. We've lost some games that we should have won. We just have to worry about ourselves and go out and play. It doesn't matter what division they are. They've got some good football players. We've got to go out and play and we've got to beat them."
Season tickets for the 2010 season remain on sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. Season ticket prices are $199 for sideline seats, $99 for adult endzone and $65 for youth endzone. In addition, fans can purchase a Family 4 Pack (2 adult, 2 youth) for $250, as well as an opportunity to pick any two games for $60. Single game tickets are also available.
For more information or to purchase tickets please call the Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE, log onto the internet at TulaneGreenWave.com, or show up in person at the ticket office located inside the James W. Wilson Jr. Center on Ben Weiner Drive.