If you thought Tulane’s 52-17 loss at Syracuse was bad, consider what Louisiana-Monroe went through at Baylor on Saturday. The Warhawks trailed the Bears 70-7 midway through the third quarter, giving up five touchdowns in the first quarter, three in the second and three more in the first 7:09 of the third before Baylor shut it down. Whichever team recovers more quickly from its emotional and physical beating will have the edge on Saturday when the Wave and Warhawks meet in Monroe. ULM crushed Tulane 63-10 in the Superdome last September when the Green Wave was still traumatized by Devon Walker’s cervical spine fracture from two weeks earlier against Tulsa. Tulane also started D.J. Ponder at quarterback in place of the injured Ryan Griffin. Ponder, a senior who had never thrown a touchdown pass, came back to the team after 2012 training camp started at the coaches’ invitation.
He had given up football for baseball.
Though outmanned by Syracuse, Tulane’s toughest opponent was itself. The Green Wave handed three first-half touchdowns to the Orange with horrendous specials teams play. Blocked punts gave Syracuse the ball at the Tulane 6 and 17. Redshirt freshman Kedrick Banks muffed a punt at the 14 after inexplicably following the ball closely while it rolled and letting it touch his leg. Then, after the Wave closed to 35-17 late in the first half, two hits out of bounds handed 30 yards to Syracuse, allowing the Orange to score another touchdown with four seconds left. At halftime, Tulane trailed 42-17 despite running the same number of plays as Syracuse (39) and gaining nine fewer yards.
Receiver Justyn Shackleford emerged as a complement to Ryan Grant, who got little help in the first three weeks. After catching two passes in the first three games (both for touchdowns), Shackleford had seven receptions for 106 yards, including a 45-yarder when he outjumped a defender for a Nick Montana heave and a leaping catch in the corner of the end zone on fourth down.
“I think we got a little bit demoralized. Our kids didn’t play well.”
Curtis Johnson, Tulane coach
KEEP AN EYE ON
Montana will get hurt if Tulane’s pass blocking does not improve quickly. He showed incredible toughness while getting hammered repeatedly, throwing for 213 yards and a score. He had to leave for one play in the first half after having the breath knocked out of him and was wobbly as he got up several other times. Syracuse’s three sacks don’t tell the whole story. It is the clean shots Montana absorbs right after he releases the ball that will have a cumulative effect. Without him, the Wave would be rudderless.
Tulane kicker Cairo Santos played seven days after his father, a stunt pilot, died in an airplane crash. His streak of 26 consecutive field goals — four shy of the NCAA record — ended with a blocked kick in the second quarter. … Tulane has a chance to get to 3-2 for the first time since 2003. … The Wave is 2-1 vs. ULM, winning 52-9 in 2002 and 24-10 in 2008 before last year’s lopsided loss. The 2002 game was played in Monroe. … Rob Kelley’s 45-yard touchdown in the first quarter was Tulane’s longest scoring run since Andre Anderson’s 63-yarder against McNeese State in 2009.