Sept. 30, 2010
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University football team returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 2, when the Green Wave travel to Piscataway, N.J., to take on the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. (CDT) and the game will be carried live on ESPN3.com.
Tulane heads to Jersey 1-2 on the year and looking to bounce back from a tough 42-23 Conference USA loss at Houston last weekend at Robertson Stadium. Rutgers, meanwhile, enters the ballgame 2-1 so far in 2010 and aim to rebound from its first loss of the year - a 17-13 setback at the hands of North Carolina last Saturday at Rutgers Stadium.
"There's a lot of football left, and that's what I've talked to our football team about," Tulane head football coach Bob Toledo said during his weekly press conference. "A lot of people would cash it in. It's not time to do anything like that. We've got a lot of football left. It's not time to panic.
"I think the attitude on our football team is very good. We had a really good practice. It was very upbeat. Obviously, we're disappointed (being 1-2) but we're not demoralized at this point. There are a lot of good things that can happen for us this year and we're going to try and go out and do that."
The ESPN3.com broadcast gives fans an opportunity to watch the game as they would on television via the Internet. ESPN3 harnesses the quality ESPN has built through its TV networks and delivers online sports programming to fans through a rich, interactive, and easy-to-use experience. Fans can click HEREto find an ESPN3 provider.
In addition, the game will be broadcast live on the flagship radio station of Tulane Athletics, WIST AM 690, and live stats are available for free via GameTracker on the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.
The Green Wave enter Saturday's contest averaging 298.3 yards of total offense per game (107.3 rushing/191.0 passing) and are giving up an average of 329.7 yards a contest (110.3 rushing/219.3 passing). One of the most improved areas from a year ago has been Tulane's play on defense where the Wave rank third in the league in average yards allowed and are second in rushing yards per game.
As a team, Tulane has 24 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three interceptions and five fumble recoveries. Senior defensive tackle Justin Adams headlines the Green Wave with 6.0 tackles for loss (minus-38 yards) and 3.0 sacks (minus-32 yards) while senior cornerback Phillip Davis has a team-best four take-aways after recovering a pair of fumbles and posting an interception in each of the last two games.
Offensively, junior running back Albert Williams leads the Green Wave ground attack with 180 yards on 35 carries (5.1 avg.) while back-up Payten Jason has 42 yards and a touchdown on 29 totes. Sophomore quarterback Ryan Griffin has completed 42-of-64 passes (65.6 pct.) for 360 yards while senior wideout Casey Robottom and sophomore receiver D.J. Banks lead the team with 17 catches and 153 receiving yards, respectively.
"There's no question - and I've said it earlier - that we're a much-improved football team," Toledo said. "We've got guys on our scout team right now that would have played considerably for us two or three years ago. We're better...In talking to the head coach at Ole Miss and the head coach at Houston, they both agree with me that we're a much-improve football team.
"This program was a lot farther down than I envisioned it when I took over. We've had to work at it, and there's no quick fix. You don't bring in a bunch of junior college players here to get a quick fix. You've got to do it with young guys. We've played a bunch of young guys the last couple of years, but we've gotten better because of it. We've gotten more quality depth because of it."
Rutgers, meanwhile, has averaged 279.3 yards of total offense over its first three games (143.7 rushing/135.7 passing) while holding opponents to just 274.0 yards per game (94.3 rushing/179.7 passing). A big reason for their opponents' low offensive production has been the play of the Scarlet Knights' defense, which ranks second in the nation in scoring defense (10.3 points per game), 14th in rushing defense and 17th in total defense.
Antonio Lowery leads Rutgers with 23 tackles (12 solo, 11 assists) and ranks fifth in the NCAA in with 11.25 tackles per game. The Scarlet Knights have 16 tackles for loss and five sacks on the season, including four tackles behind the line of scrimmage by Alex Silvestro and 1.5 sacks by Scott Vallone. Rutgers has forced nine turnovers in 2010 (6 FR, 3 INT) as Joe Lefeged, Brandon Bing and Khaseem Greene each have an interception while Lowery and Steve Beauharnais are tied for the team lead with two fumble recoveries apiece.
"They run a lot of different defenses," Toledo said. "(Rutgers head coach) Greg Schiano is basically the defensive coordinator. He's been a defensive guy. He was at Miami. He was with the Bears in the pros. He's coached a lot of football. He was a linebacker himself. They bring the heat. They've got athletic guys so I expect them to come after us."
Joe Martinek leads the Scarlett Knights with 167 rushing yards and a touchdown on 39 carries. Mohamed Sanu paces the squad with 16 catches for 164 yards and a touchdown, and also ranks second on the team with 104 rushing yards and a pair of scores on 28 totes. Sanu has also completed a pair of passes for 31 yards and a touchdown so far in 2010. Tom Savage, a Freshman All-American a year ago, directs the Rutgers offense where he has completed 33-of-63 yards for 370 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
An additional dimension Rutgers brings to its games is the ability to put pressure on special teams as the Scarlet Knights have blocked three punts and a field goal. Blocks have been a specialty for Rutgers under Schiano as the team ranks second in the nation with 46 stuffs since 2002. The Knights' return men have been equally as effective as Lefeged ranks second in the Big East and tied for 26th in the nation with 28.0 yards per kickoff return Mason Robinson, meanwhile, has averaged 11.0 yards per punt return this season.
Saturday's game marks just the fifth time Tulane and Rutgers have ever squared off on the gridiron and the Scarlett Knights hold a 3-1 advantage in the all-time series. The last time the teams played, however, the Green Wave emerged victorious with a 52-24 decision in Piscataway during Tulane's undefeated 12-0 season in 1998.
Following the trip to New Jersey, Tulane returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 9, when the Green Wave will host Homecoming 2010 against Army in the Louisiana Superdome. For ticket information to the Homecoming contest, as well as future Green Wave Athletic events, contact the Tulane Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE. Tickets can be purchase in the Ticket Office, which is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center, over the phone or online at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.