Oct. 5, 2006
NEW ORLEANS, La. - The Tulane University football team will look to pick up its first Conference USA victory of the 2006 season when the Green Wave take on league foe Rice Saturday afternoon at the Louisiana Superdome.
The Green Wave (1-3, 0-2 C-USA) are coming off a tough, 33-28 loss to SMU last weekend in their return to the 'Dome and will be facing a tough Rice squad (1-4, 0-1 C-USA) that defeated Army 48-14 win at Army in their previous contest. Saturday's game is slated to kickoff at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast live on the Tulane Network (local WIST AM 690).
The radio broadcast will also be carried live on the internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com to registered members of the All Access Pass. Live stats are also available free of the charge on the web via GameTracker.
"I think Rice is a very good football team," Tulane head coach Chris Scelfo said. "Defensively, they've been in every game they've played. The score hasn't always indicated that. They play a tremendous schedule and came out of it healthy, which is good for them. They went up to Army (and won), and we know how hard that is.
"They're on an emotional high right now coming off of that game. It was a huge win for them. It's a game that again, is going to boil down to who makes the plays - the four or five plays - and who makes the least amount of mistakes. It's going to be very physical."
The Green Wave enter the game averaging 311.8 yards of total offense per game - 65.8 rushing and 246.0 passing. Junior running back Matt Forté paces the Tulane ground game with 232 yards and a touchdown on 63 carries, and fellow junior Ray Boudreaux is next with 68 yards on 12 opportunities.
Senior quarterback Lester Ricard leads the aerial attack, completing 65-of-11 passes for 892 yards, eight touchdowns and just one interception. Eleven different Green Wave players have caught at least two passes through the first four games of the season, and senior wideout Damarcus Davis paces the bunch with 14 receptions for 192 yards and two scores. Rice counters with a defense that has allowed an average of 405.0 yards per game (226.0 rushing, 179.0 passing), but those numbers are a bit skewed based on the competition as the Owls have battled nationally-ranked Texas and Florida, as well as Pac 10 power UCLA.
Linebacker Brian Raines paces Rice with 48 tackles, including seven for loss, and is tied with Courtney Gordon for the sacks lead with three each. Andray Downs and Ja'Corey Shepherd each have an interception for the Owls, and Shepherd has accounted for three of the Owls' 11 passes defensed.
"Defensively, Rice plays a 3-3 stack," Scelfo said. "They are very disciplined on defense and they attack the line of scrimmage. Our guys have to really be aware of where their guys are and how to react to what they're doing defensively."
The Owls' offense, meanwhile, enters Saturday's ballgame averaging 266.6 yards per game (82.6 rushing, 184.0 passing) and are led by the reigning C-USA Offensive Player of the Week, Chase Clement. Clement, a sophomore, has completed 41 of 65 passes for 451 yards, seven touchdowns and a pick. He also ranks second on the squad in rushing with 91 yards on 21 carries. Quinton Smith leads the Rice ground game with 329 yards and three scores on 69 carries, while Jarett Dillard has 38 catches for 511 yards and seven touchdowns.
"Offensively, they're spreading the ball around," Scelfo said. "They have a tremendous receiver and their quarterback has been as efficient as anybody in our league. He can also run. They've changed offensively (from last year). they go into the spread set. I see a group of guys that when you cut the tape on them, they're disciplined, they play hard, and they're in the right spots."
Saturday's game between Tulane and Rice marks the 29th meeting between the two teams on the gridiron, and the Owls lead the all-time series, 15-12-1. Last season (Nov. 12), Rice defeated the Green Wave, 42-34, in Houston.
The Tulane/Rice series dates back to 1916 when Rice earned a 23-13 victory. The Green Wave have lost their last three games to the Owls, and the last time Tulane won was back on Sept. 16, 1995, when the boys in olive green and sky blue claimed a 17-15 decision at Rice Stadium. Tulane's last home win against the Owls came on Sept. 9, 1989 when the Green Wave won a nail-biter, 20-19.
"We still have to play with a lot of emotion, but it has to be controlled," Scelfo said. "We can't be too excited and it boils down to this: it doesn't matter what level you're playing on when you've got a chance to make a play, you've got to make it."
Following Saturday's ballgame, the Green Wave will play road games at UTEP (Oct. 14) and Auburn (Oct. 21) before returning to the Superdome for Homecoming 2006 vs. Army on Oct. 28. Tickets for those game, and future Green Wave contests, 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, and 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.