One win over FCS Grambling, and what did you just say?
Tulane’s thumping of Grambling 43-14 Saturday night was impressive. The Green Wave dominated the game with zealous defense and an offense that put the ball in the air. Tulane nearly doubled Grambling’s total yards with 481-225. In addition, the air assault was exciting to watch.
Last year, the Green Wave beat another SWAC FCS team Southern 66-21.
That being said, the results vs. this year were like “night and day.” First and foremost, the Southern Jaguars were not as talented as Grambling. Grambling beat them head-to-head 52-30 in their annual Bayou Classic in 2016. Furthermore, looking at the box scores tell a story of two completely different teams.
Tulane had a total of only 12 passing yards against Southern in 2016! On the other hand, Tulane’s QB Jonathan Banks threw 10-15 for 185 yards and 3 TD’s against Grambling on Saturday. Most importantly, Banks had zero interceptions. Just that alone can make Greenie fans hopeful.
But there’s more. The defense was swarming to the ball all night long. Once again, the difference between 2016 and 2017 is a transformation in itself. In 2016, against Southern, Tulane gave up 335 total yards. In 2017, against a much better Grambling team only 225 yards.
Above all, this team has a totally different presence on the field. In any case, it’s now Willie Fritz’s team in whole. Fritz has the players that finally fit his spread option offense. Running this type of offense means recruiting the correct players. Now in his 2nd year, Fritz has all the tools he needs.
Fritz’s teams in the past ran 70-80% of the time. Against Grambling, Tulane ran the ball 51 times against running the ball only 15 times. The run percentage against Grambling was approximately 78%. In 2016, Tulane only ran the ball just over 69% of the time. That extra 10% is gonna be a huge difference, if that continues forward into the season. Fritz has won with that philosophy everywhere he’s been.
At the same time, Tulane has eight returning starters on offense and defense that gives him the experience and wisdom to move this team forward. Even though it’s only been one year.
Presently, the Wave sit at 1-0 and have all the momentum going into a tough match-up next week with Navy. The Midshipmen is known for pounding the ball more than any other team. Last week, they beat Florida Atlantic 42-19 with 416 rushing yards. quarterback Zach Abbey accounted for 235 of those yards on 32 carries. Ultimately, Navy ran the ball about 87% of the time last week. By and large, they are the kings of running the option smooth.
Both teams are gonna be battling it out on the ground all day on Saturday. That being said, Tulane may have a slight advantage with quarterback Jonathan Banks. He’s not afraid to put it up in the air when called upon. Banks gives the Green Wave a little bit more firepower in the air than Navy.
On the other hand, Navy’s linebacker rank #1 in the AAC by Phil Steele’s 2017 College Football Preview. Furthermore, Navy has a winning tradition as of late. Since Ken Niumatalolo has taken over in 2008, the Midshipmen has had a winning season 8 of those 9 years. Moreover, what he’s done against Notre Dame is simply unheard of. His Navy team has beaten Notre Dame three times in that span. Notre Dame owns the series 76-13-1.
For one coach to have three victories of those 13 is simply incredible Think about that for a second. In almost 100 years, Navy has won three of those games in the last nine years under Niumatalolo.
Fans are gonna see how this Tulane team really fares against some stiff competition in Annapolis. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. CDT and 3:30 EDT on the CBS Sports Network.