Tulane Monday morning rewind

Associated Press photo by , Dacia Idom/The(Monroe) News-StarUniversity of Louisiana-Monroe's Rashon Ceaser maintains control of the ball as two Tulane defenders attempt to tackle him during Saturday's game in Monroe. Show caption
Associated Press photo by , Dacia Idom/The(Monroe) News-StarUniversity of Louisiana-Monroe's Rashon Ceaser maintains control of the ball as two Tulane defenders attempt to tackle him during Saturday's game in Monroe.

COMING UP

The story is the same after every Tulane victory — can the Green Wave match its intensity and execution in the Louisiana-Monroe game against North Texas, something it has failed to do while dropping its last 12 games following wins? Tulane can get to 2-0 in Conference USA for the first time since its 12-0 season in 1998 as it returns home for the first time in four weeks. C-USA newbie North Texas has been better than expected through four games, blowing out Idaho, losing 27-21 at Ohio (3-1), handing Ball State its only loss in five games and staying even with Georgia for more than two quarters before the Bulldogs won 45-21. Senior quarterback Derek Thompson is among the nation’s leaders in completion percentage (.676), looking for big-play wide receiver Brelan Chancellor. The Mean Green doesn’t do much else well, though, allowing 488.2 yards per game and averaging 3.5 yards per carry. This is a huge game as second-year Tulane coach Curtis Johnson tries to build a winning program.

LOOKING BACK

Tulane dominated ULM on both sides of the line of scrimmage in its 31-14 victory, something it had not done in any game since beating UAB 49-10 in September of 2011. The Green Wave rushed for 253 yards while allowing 26 rushing yards and sacking ULM quarterbacks five times. A week after getting shredded by Syracuse, the aggressive Green Wave defense knocked quarterback Kolton Browning out of the game in the third quarter and scored a touchdown long before ULM’s offense reached the end zone. The Warhawks helped out with five turnovers, prompting coach Todd Berry to say Tulane was not a good team and his was even worse. The Wave survived an off night from Nick Montana, who went 7 of 20 for 65 yards, but he had fun handing off and watching the running backs do damage.

SATURDAY’S STAR

Running back Orleans Darkwa had his first 100-yard game since 2011, gaining 118 yards with a long run of 54. When he is healthy and gets good blocking, a combo platter that has been rare since his breakout freshman season in 2010, he is tough to stop. Earlier in the week Darkwa admitted he was embarrassed by ULM’s 63-10 stomping of Tulane at the Dome last year and wanted to avenge that loss. He went out and did something about it.

WORTH REPEATING

“It’s fun to watch when guys go out and execute a plan and it works to perfection.”

Tulane coach Curtis Johnson

KEEP AN EYE ON

The biggest surprise Saturday was the way Tulane’s beleaguered offensive line manhandled ULM’s defensive front. After struggling from start to finish last year and regressing against Syracuse a week ago, the unit may finally be jelling, but one good week does not prove anything. If the blockers open up big holes against North Texas, too, the Green Wave could be building something big.

LAGNIAPPE

Tulane is trying to end a streak of 10 consecutive losing seasons, while North Texas has finished under .500 for eight straight years. … Tulane was credited with 11 pressures against ULM, including four by linebacker Dominique Robertson, who scored a touchdown on a fumble return at the end of one of them. … Sophomore cornerback Jordan Batiste, starting for the first time this year as Tulane opened in a nickel package, forced the fumble that Robertson scored on, had an interception and made a team-high eight tackles. …Tulane and North Texas have never met. The 17-point win against ULM was Tulane’s second largest against an FBS team in the last eight years.

Guerry Smith