Storyline: Which Wave?
There have been two distinctly different sets of Tulane football teams this season. The one blown out for a half against South Alabama and for an afternoon at Syracuse is full of special teams mistakes, struggles to maintain defensive assignments and coughs up turnovers with regularity. But during a six-quarter stretch from its second-half comeback attempt against USA and a road victory at Louisiana Tech, the same Green Wave controlled the line of scrimmage defensively, regularly converted third downs and produced takeaways with ease. Which one shows up Saturday?
Keep an eye on: ULM backfield standouts
ULM’s senior backfield tandem of quarterback Kolton Browning and running back Jyruss Edwards is back to full health for the first time this season, Warhawks coach Todd Berry said. Each is among the most productive at his position in school history and sparked ULM to its 6-2 start a year ago. Each also had lingering injuries in the first few weeks, limiting their explosiveness. If both are going at full speed, Tulane will have its hands full.
Key matchup: Tulane QB Nick Montana vs. ULM safeties
Tulane quarterback Nick Montana said he couldn’t learn much from watching film on ULM’s 70-7 loss at Baylor last week because the Green Wave’s system is so different than Baylor’s. But one thing he likely did see is how often the Warhawks were beaten over the top. ULM surrendered touchdown passes of 65, 65, 63 and 47 yards, often without a defender in the vicinity. Montana has yet to show himself as a deep threat.
X Factor: Pride on the line
For generations, Tulane has regarded itself as the second-best football program in Louisiana. The Green Wave has compiled a 54-7 record against in-state foes not named LSU. But after UL-Lafayette’s consecutive bowl wins and the Green Wave’s 63-10 loss to ULM last year, and going a decade without a winning season, games like this one gain importance as Tulane tries to re-stake its claim.