After an enormous win against the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus last week, the Oklahoma Sooners are back in Norman for a matchup with the Tulane Green Wave and their option attack. JP Gooderham of Fear the Wave was nice enough to fill us in on all things Tulane and other stuff, so we hope y’all enjoy!
Tulane's original starting quarterback, Jonathan Banks, was injured against Navy. His replacement, Johnathan Brantley, came in and gave Tulane a different look. How does the Tulane offense change with Brantley at QB?
Losing Banks is certainly a bad break for Tulane. In his first start with the Green Wave, he was the Louisiana Offensive Player of the Week and showed a lot of comfort with both the running and passing concepts of Fritz's offense. That said, we've now seen Brantley run the offense, as he took the reins for the second half against Navy. He's confident on the run, and he used his size effectively to break tackles and turn in some explosive runs. The question mark is around his development as a passer -- especially against a top tier secondary that we'll see Saturday. Coach Fritz loves to control the clock and limit possessions in games like this, and with Brantley's skill set, I would expect the running attack to be an even higher priority than usual.
Tulane's senior-laden defense has looked pretty good, and they even held a potent Navy option attack to 3.7 yards per carry last week. Which defensive players should OU fans keep an eye on this Saturday?
The defense was billed as the strength of the team this year, and I agree -- they have lived up to it so far. Tulane will be without safety Rod Teamer due to injury. Teamer has been outstanding and returned a fumble for a touchdown against the Mids last week. That being said, the Green Wave has got some dudes on this defense.
Parry Nickerson is a ball hawk corner and former freshman All-American. The senior CB projects as an NFL talent, and he hauled in his first pick in the end zone with Navy charging last week.
On the front, Ade Aruna is our other senior who has attracted attention from scouts. He's a disruptive DE with great size and athleticism. He started in football late in life, and he's continued to evolve as a pass rusher. Saturday will be a great test for him against a QB who did a great job escaping pressure against the Bucks.
I'd also give a shout out to Luke Jackson. He wasn't expected to be a star on this team at DE, but he's looked great this year and forced a fumble against the Mids. Jackson beat cancer early in his Tulane career and ended up becoming a starter for the first time as a redshirt senior, so it's been great to see his development.
Tulane uses a lot of different running backs in their attack. What does each back bring to the table?
Taking the bulk of the carries will be Dontrell Hilliard and Sherman Badie, who are both veteran backs who are expected to do a bit of everything in this offense. That is especially true for Hilliard, and we've seen him score in the passing game this year (and he has TDs in both games so far). Badie has breakaway speed once he gets into space, and we've used him to return kicks as well.
Depending on the personnel set, the other two backs in play will be Darius Bradwell, a QB converted to a RB, and true freshman Stephon Huderson. For Bradwell, he's the bulldozer. He's a big dude, and he's a guy who could be called on to convert the key 4th and 1 if Tulane is trying to extend a drive. Huderson has seen some reps this season, and he's an undersized back who uses the size disadvantage to evade defenders.
We've reached the point of the Q&A in which I have to ask some New Orleans-related questions. Do you enjoy hanging out on Bourbon Street, or do you prefer to have fun in the less touristy areas?
Yeah, man, the Sooners are coming down our way in a few years, so keep that on the radar. And no, skip Bourbon Street. You'll leave New Orleans with fewer emotional scars and might be able to reuse your shoes when you get home.
Tulane (as well as our new stadium) is in Uptown, and the school has its own bar scene that I would encourage the younger crowd to check out (most notably, America's top college bar, The Boot). If you're staying around the French Quarter though, head to Frenchmen Street instead of Bourbon and hit the Blue Nile or Maison for live music. You can legally walk the streets with a go-cup from the bar, so you can do some exploring.
What's your go-to place for live music in New Orleans?
I think Tipitina's is one of the coolest music venues in America, so that's definitely my pick. If you are ever in town and Galactic happens to be playing, drop everything and go.
Who makes the best Po Boy in Louisiana?
It's all about Parkway for me, just avoid it or go before if you're in town for Jazz Fest because it gets crazy on tourist weekends.
Why won't the Saints just give AD the damn rock?
Don't look at me. I don't think any rational person could explain the mysticisms of the Saints offense. Signing AD and then not using him might not even make the Top 5 list of crazy things the Saints' front office has chosen to do over the years. It'll be a win/win though, we'll either see him come into play more or get more clips of AD glaring at Sean Payton's back.
How long will former Green Wave running back Fat Rob be able too keep former Sooner Samaje Perine from taking his starting spot?
Yeah, we're all huge Fat Rob fans, so I followed Washington's camp fairly closely, and there were certainly some questions if Perine would eclipse Rob Kelley. So far, so good for the former Green Wave back. His position is still solid, and it seems like Chris Thompson is still ahead of Perine in the pecking order (he got the 3 carries that weren't Fat Rob's last week). That said, that offense looked like a mess against Philadelphia, and Kelley will need to find a way to make it work to keep that job long-term.
What are some fun facts about Tulane that you think Oklahoma fans should know about?
Alright, I'll hit you with one that has some Sooners trivia too. While Oklahoma's first bowl appearance came in 1939 against the Vols of Tennessee, the Sooners' first major bowl win came in the Sugar Bowl in 1949 at old Tulane Stadium. Bud Wilkinson led OU to a 14-6 win over UNC in their first-ever Sugar Bowl appearance.
On Tulane's side, I'll need to think of a new one for this year now that LB Nico Marley (grandson of Bob Marley) has graduated. For anyone who likes uniform watch stuff, you may have seen that the Green Wave rebranded this year to the vintage Angry Wave.
This was an old-school logo for the Green Wave, and it's not only the helmet decal but the official logo for Tulane Athletics, including our field logo.
What does Tulane have to do to beat the 35-point spread, and what is your final score prediction?
We can be realistic here. The Sooners are an excellent program, and it's going to take a big-time effort from the Green Wave to shock some folks. Coach Fritz scared some larger programs (including nailbiters against Georgia and Georgia Tech) while at his last job at Georgia Southern, and he'll want to do the same here.
I think three things need to happen:
- The Green Wave has been one of the best turnover margin teams in America over the past two seasons. We can't count on Baker Mayfield to throw a pick or two, and we'll need to find a fumble or two elsewhere. On our side, that means playing a clean game, and that has been a strength. They'll need to keep it up in the toughest environment they have seen this year.
- Bend but don't break on defense. Baker Mayfield will complete passes, and the Sooners have the running backs to move the ball. The Green Wave's defensive identity of this era has been keeping opponents out of the end zone. If the corps of upperclassmen on defense can stop the Sooners from finishing drives, that will be critical.
- Force Sooners' LBs to make plays and get to the second level. Tulane has the playmakers who can be dangerous in space, and the Sooners have a young group of linebackers. On top of that, they will be seeing an option-oriented offense that will necessitate assignment football and eye discipline. Get your runners into space early and scare the defense a bit, and I think this will be an interesting ballgame.
I'll take Tulane to beat the spread but the Sooners stay out ahead with offensive firepower. 46-20 Oklahoma.