Sept. 28, 2006
NEW ORLEANS, La. - The Tulane University football team returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 30, when the Green Wave take the field at the Louisiana Superdome for the first time in nearly two years against Conference USA foe SMU in a nationally televised game at 6:30 p.m.
In what has been a media whirlwind surrounding the Green Wave's first contest in the 'Dome since Dec. 4, 2004, Saturday's ballgame will be televised on College Sports Television (DirecTV Channel 610, DISH Network Channel 152). In addition, the game will be broadcast on the Tulane Network (local WIST AM 690) and both the video and audio broadcast are available on TulaneGreenWave.com to registered members of the All Access Pass. Live stats will also be provided free of charge on the internet via GameTracker.
"I've sensed some anticipation for a few weeks now," Tulane head coach Chris Scelfo said about his team playing its first game in the Superdome after opening the regular season with three straight road games. "There's a lot going on around campus...I've sensed the excitement building towards this for a while now."
That excitement will come to a head once the ball is kicked off, and from there, the Green Wave (1-2, 0-1 C-USA) will have to focus on a solid SMU (2-2, 0-0 C-USA) team that is fresh of back-to-back, lopsided wins that saw the Mustangs score a combined 100 points in victories over Sam Houston State (45-14) and Arkansas State (55-9).
The Mustangs average 339.8 yards of total offense per game (162.5 rushing/177.2 passing) and are led by redshirt-freshman quarterback Justin Willis. Willis has completed 57 of 78 passes for 580 yards and 10 touchdowns, and his 172.72 quarterback efficiency rating ranks sixth in the nation.
Reynaldo Pellerin paces the Ponies with 13 catches, Bobby Chase leads the squad with 231 receiving yards, and Ryan Kennedy has a team-best four TD receptions. James Mapps leads a full stable of SMU running backs with 200 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries (6.7 avg.).
"They're really operating well," Scelfo said. "That quarterback has been very efficient and their special teams have been very strong. What it tells me is they're operating efficiently on offense. What their quarterback can do is run and we better be able to account for that. And we've got to have a hat for him."
Tulane will counter with a defense that has shown steady improvement throughout the season as the young linebacking corps and secondary unit continues to gain game-time experience. Junior defensive backs Joe Goosby and Louis Thomas rank 1-2 on the Green Wave team in tackles with 19 and 14, respectively. Eleven of Tulane's 113 tackles in 2006 have come behind the line of scrimmage, including three sacks.
The Green Wave offense, meanwhile, comes into the 'Dome opener averaging 294.0 yards per game (98.7 rush/171.3 pass). Junior running back Matt Forté leads the ground attack with 215 yards on 52 carries (4.1 avg.), and senior quarterback Lester Ricard orchestrates the Green Wave's aerial attack.
Ricard, who did not play in the second half of last week's contest at LSU, has completed 36 of 63 passes for 498 yards and five scores. Forté and senior wideout Preston Brown have been his favorite targets with seven catches each, but Tulane has spread the ball around so far as 11 different players have at least one reception.
The Green Wave will be going up against a Mustang defense that has given up an average of 346.5 yards (110.2 rush/236.2 pass). SMU, however, has forced 16 turnovers in its first four games and posted 10 sacks to date. Joe Sturdivant paces the Ponies with 27 tackles, while Wilton McCray and Randall Goode follow closely with 26 and 24, respectively.
Saturday's contest marks the 15th meeting between Tulane and SMU on the gridiron, and the Green Wave lead the all-time series, 10-4. Last season, Tulane defeated SMU, 31-10 (Sept. 24), at Gerald Ford Stadium to run its winning streak vs. the Mustangs to five dating back to the 1992 season.
The series against SMU dates back to 1943 when Tulane won 12-6 at Tulane Stadium. The last time SMU defeated the Green Wave was on Oct. 5, 1991, when the Mustangs upended the Green Wave, 31-17.
Tickets to the Tulane/SMU contest, as well as season-ticket packages remain for sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center. Tickets can be purchased in person, via the telephone at (504) 861-WAVE or via the internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com. In addition, single-game tickets are also available via Ticket Master at www.TicketMaster.com and at all Ticket Master outlets.