Senior defensive tackle Cedric Wilson and the Green Wave open the final month of the 2011 season Saturday when they take on SMU at Ford Stadium.
Nov. 4, 2011
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University football team will start the final month of the 2011 season on Saturday, Nov. 5, when the Green Wave travel to Dallas to take on Conference USA foe SMU at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. (CDT).
The Wave enter the game 2-7 on the year, 1-4 in league play and looking to snap a six-game losing streak dating back to Sept. 24. While the team is no longer eligible for a postseason bowl game, interim head coach Mark Hutson said he once again expects his team to play all out on Saturday against the Mustangs.
"When you start out the season, you look to win a conference championship and a bowl game," Hutson said. "As the season goes, we had opportunities to this point to be in a position for a bowl game. That didn't happen. But the players and the coaching staff, we're all in it together. We're all in it for the same reason. The reason these players work out all summer, the reason they go through two-a-days, the reason they go through surgeries and come back...whatever drives them to play the game is what we have to pull from these last four weeks."
Saturday's game will be broadcast live on the flagship station of Green Wave football, WIST AM 690, and both live audio and video streaming is available on-line at www.TulaneGreenWave.com to paid members of the All-Access Pass. In addition, live stats are also available on the web courtesy of GameTracker, and the new, interactive option is available via "Tulane Live".
As a team, Tulane is averaging 360.7 yards of total offense per game (120.8 rushing, 239.9 passing) while allowing opponents to tally a mark of 380.8 (164.3 rushing, 216.4 passing).
Sophomore Orleans Darkwa leads the Tulane ground game with 606 yards and nine touchdowns on 134 carries while senior Albert Williams is next with 237 rushing yards and a score on 48 totes. Junior quarterback Ryan Griffin has completed 157-of-262 passes for 1,886 yards with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and has done a good job of spreading the ball around as 19 Tulane players have at least one reception.
Darkwa paces the receiving corps with 28 catches while sophomore Wilson Van Hooser has a team-best three touchdown grabs and 317 receiving yards. Darkwa is one of four Green Wave players with at least 20 receptions as senior Joe Kemp has 25, rookie Justyn Shackleford has 24 and Van Hooser has 22.
Rookie Xavier Rush is second on the team with a pair of touchdown receptions while Kemp, redshirt-freshman tight end Matt Marfisi, junior tight end Brock Sanders, junior wide receiver Ryan Grant, and junior linebacker Trent Mackey - who has seen time on offense at fullback in goal-line situations - have one scoring grab each.
Mackey paces the defense with 115 tackles (71 solo, 44 assists) and is tied for the team lead along with senior defensive end Dezman Moses with 9.0 tackles for loss each. Mackey also has one of the Green Wave's three defensive touchdowns in 2011 courtesy of a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown against UAB on Sept. 17.
Junior linebacker Darryl Farley is second on the team with 50 tackles while junior safety Shakiel Smith and junior corner Travis Ryan have 49 apiece. Moses leads the team in sacks with 6.5 and sophomore Julius Warmsley is close behind with 4.5.
Travis leads the team with four interceptions and fellow junior cornerback Jordan Sullen paces the Green Wave with six pass break-ups. Sophomore linebacker Dominique Robertson leads the defense with three forced fumbles while Moses, freshman safety Renaldo Thomas, junior defensive end Austen Jacks, junior linebacker Darryl Farley and redshirt-freshman special teamer Taylor Bullock have one forced fumble each. Jacks headlines the defense with a pair of fumble recoveries while Moses, Mackey, Warmsley and redshirt-freshman linebacker Ray Oppman have one apiece.
SMU, meanwhile, enters the weekend 5-3 on the season, 3-2 in C-USA play and looking to bounce back from consecutive road losses to Southern Miss, 27-3 on Oct. 22, and Tulsa, 38-7 on Oct. 29. As a team, the Mustangs are averaging 410.2 yards of total offense per game (117.1 rushing, 293.1 passing) while allowing opponents to post 355.8 yards per contest (112.6 rushing, 243.1 passing).
Zach Line leads the SMU ground game with 946 yards and 14 touchdowns on 159 carries, and J.J. McDermott has taken the bulk of snaps under center for the Mustangs, completing 162-of-289 passes for 2,193 yards, 10 touchdowns and 11 picks.
Eleven Mustang receivers have caught at least one passes to date, and Cole Beasley leads the way with 52 receptions for 685 yards. Darius Johnson, who has pulled down 46 passes for 625 yards, paces MSU with four touchdown catches.
Taylor Reed leads the SMU defense with 57 tackles (28 solo, 29 assists) while Ryan Smith has 53 and Chris Banjo has 48. Richard Crawford has nine of the team's 29 pass break-ups while Ja'Gared Davis has two of the Mustangs' three interceptions
Davis also paces the squad with 6.5 tackles for loss while Taylor Thompson has 6.0 of the team's 20 sacks and four of the squad's 10 forced fumbles. Randall Joyner leads SMU with a pair of fumble recoveries.
"Most people don't view the run and shoot as a physical offense - they are," Hutson said of SMU. "Their tailback leads the conference in rushing. Looking at (Mustangs head coach) June (Jones) and having played him not only here but when I was at Tulsa, if you just defend the pass and drop eight people, he'll run the ball. He's done it well this year and throughout the previous years. On defense, they're a very physical unit. They run to the ball. They gang tackle. In looking at them in total defense, they're third in the conference."
This weekend's ballgame marks the 19th time the two teams have met on the gridiron and Tulane holds an 11-7 advantage in the all-time series. The Mustangs, however, have won the last two head-to-head matchups, including a 31-17 decision on Oct. 30, 2010, in the Superdome. The Green Wave's last win came on Sept. 25, 2008, when Tulane rolled to a 34-27 victory in New Orleans.
Following the game in Dallas, Tulane returns to action on Thursday, Nov. 12, when the Wave play host to Houston. That game will be the final regular-season contest of the year and the program will honor its 12-member senior class of Kemp, Moses, Williams, Emmanuel Aluko, Chris Asumnu, Taylor Echols, Harris Howard, Joey Ray, Kristofar Rhymes, Josh Smith, Kasey Stelly and Cedric Wilson. From there, the Wave will play at Rice on Nov. 19 before closing out the season on Nov. 26 at Hawai'i.
Single-game tickets for the Houston game, as well as future Green Wave Athletics events, are available through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. Sideline tickets are $35, adult endzone seats selling for $20 and youth endzone seats cost $10. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr., 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.