Sept. 20, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University football team returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 20, when the Green Wave play host to Ole Miss in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m. and the game will be televised nationally on the Fox Sports Network.
The game has several underlying stories as the Green Wave (0-2, 0-1 Conference USA) are looking for their first win of the 2012 season, fans are encouraged to "White Out The Dome" in honor of injured safety Devon Walker and true freshman Devin Powell is slated to start at quarterback.
"We've done everything that we possibly could so that these guys can move in a direction to do what they love to do (following Walker's injury)," first-year Tulane head football coach Curtis Johnson said. "They're moving in a much better direction. I thought they were very spirited this morning. All of a sudden now, they've seen the film. They see that the team we're playing against is a pretty good football team - it's a really good football team. They're eager to get back to things as normal as they can and get back to playing football."
In addition to the televised broadcast, the Tulane/Ole Miss contest will also be carried on the flagship station of Green Wave athletics, WIST AM 690, and can also be heard via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com to paid members of the All-Access Pass. Live stats are also available on the web courtesy of GameTracker, and fans will once again have a chance to insert their opinion and ask questions interactively through "Tulane Live."
Powell's scheduled start, meanwhile, is the first by a Tulane true freshman since Shaun King did so against the same Rebels on Oct. 7, 1995, in Oxford, Miss. King will actually be in attendance on Saturday as part of the FSN broadcast team.
"The first game of the season, we had a situation where we really wanted to play him against Rutgers," first-year head football coach Curtis Johnson said of Powell. "The game kind of went back-and-forth, back-and-forth, and it wasn't the right situation to put him in...He's a wonderful player. I like what the young man is doing. He's a big plus for us."
Coming off a bye week, the Green Wave are averaging 219.5 yards of total offense per game (7.5 rushing/212.0 passing) while giving up 480.0 per contest (257.5 rushing/222.5 passing). Powell, who came in to replace senior Ryan Griffin late in the second half of the game with the Golden Hurricane, completed 8-of-16 passes for 110 yards at Tulsa - including a 66-yard touchdown strike to junior wideout Ryan Grant.
Grant is one of 11 players to catch at least one pass so far during the young season and leads the way with 11 receptions and 219 yards while sharing the touchdown lead at one along with sophomore running back Rob Kelley. Kelley paces the Green Wave ground attack with 48 yards on 17 carries.
Defensively, junior linebacker Zach Davis is one of four players with double-digit tackle totals to date with 15 (10 solo, 5 assists) while sophomore safety Sam Scofield and senior safety Shakiel Smith follow closely with 12 each. Senior cornerback Ryan Travis paces the Green Wave with a pair of take-aways - one interception and one fumble recovery - and junior defensive tackle Julius Warmsley has 1.0 sack among a pair of tackles for loss.
"We have to run the football," Johnson said of his offensive production. "Instead of using one to set up the other, you have to be balanced. With a young team, what you don't want to do - like the first game - is you don't want to be behind in down-and-distance. That's one of the things we did in the first game. In the next game, we got into a track meet with a track team. You've got to play balanced, play our football game. Run and have a balanced attack. If we can stay balanced, I think we can play with anyone."
Ole Miss, meanwhile, comes to town 2-1 on the year and looking to bounce back from a 66-31 loss to then-No. 12 Texas at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. As a team, the Rebels are averaging 500.7 yards of total offense per game (245.0 rushing/255.7 passing) while allowing 444.7 yards per contest defensively (162.3 rushing/282.3 passing).
Jeff Scott is one of three Ole Miss players with 100-plus rushing yards through the first three games and leads the way with 206 on 20 carries. The Rebels have used a two-quarterback rotation so far in 2012 and Bo Wallace leads the aerial attack with 616 yards and six touchdowns strikes on 48-of-70 passing while running 36 times for 143 yards and a team-best two rushing touchdowns.
Barry Brunetti, meanwhile, has played in all three games and is 10-of-14 for 117 yards and a score throwing the ball while running 14 times for 86 yards and a touchdown. Donte Moncrief leads the receiving corps with 18 catches for 320 yards and three touchdowns while Korvic Neat is second with 14 grabs for 151 yards.
Mike Marry headlines the Ole Miss defense with 19 tackles (7 solo, 12 assists) and is one of eight Rebels to tally at least 10 stops to date this season. Charles Sawyer (10 solo, 8 assists), Denzel Nkemdiche (9 solo, 9 assists) and C.J. Johnson (7 solo, 11 assists) are all tied for second on the squad with 18 tackles apiece.
Nkemdiche has 3.0 of the team's 21 tackles for loss and Ole Miss has nine sacks so far. Cody Prewitt and Frank Crawford share team-high honors with one interception each, Chief Brown has the Rebels' lone fumble recovery, and Cliff Coleman has five of the unit's 10 pass break-ups.
"I think both of their quarterbacks are pretty good. I think the one guy (Wallace) is more of a read-option guy and he can throw the ball pretty good. The other kid (Brunetti) can run. He's an athletic guy. We've got to have a plan for both of those guys. This receiver (Moncrief) is a heck of a play. You just have to play your defense. I hate to say - knock on wood - but these freshmen DBs are playing pretty decent...We just have to finish off plays and continue to play those guys. I'm starting to trust those freshmen DBs a lot."
Saturday's game marks the 71st time the two teams will meet on the gridiron, and Ole Miss holds a 42-28 lead in the all-time series. The Rebels have won the last 10 matchups - including a 27-13 decision on Sept. 11, 2010, in the then-Louisiana Superdome - and the last time Tulane claimed a victory over Ole Miss was in a 14-9 win on Nov. 5, 1988, in Oxford, Miss.
"I think they will get a `W' soon," Johnson said of his team. "I don't know when, but we just have to go out and play every play one play at a time. Since I've been here, these guys have done everything that we've asked them to do - from the weight room to early morning practices to discipline. They've been tremendous.
"For me, it's like a father with your son. You want to reward them and the best reward in the world is a victory. As soon as we get one, I think we'll get some confidence. They'll feel it and we'll start rolling this thing downhill a little bit. We're (going) uphill right now."
Season and individual-game ticket sales for the 2012 football season are currently for sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the Wilson Center on Ben Weiner Drive, and tickets can be purchased in person, over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.
Tickets to Saturday's game against Ole Miss can also be purchased on Saturday at the Superdome Will-Call window, which opens at 8:30 a.m., and gates will open at 9:30 a.m.
Devon Walker Recovery T-Shirts: Fans can purchase their Devon Walker t-shirts at either the Tulane Bookstore in the Lavin-Burnick Center in the middle of campus or the Team Shop located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr., Center. In addition, t-shirts can be purchased on gameday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at Garage No. 5. T-shirts sell for $20 and all net proceeds will go toward helping Walker's medical expenses. For additional information, click HERE