2015 Tulane Green Wave Football Preview

Tanner Lee is coming off a disappointing year and will have to rapidly improve to avoid holding back a talented offense.
Tanner Lee is coming off a disappointing year and will have to rapidly improve to avoid holding back a talented offense.

Tulane Green Wave
Head coach: Curtis Johnson
2014 Record: 3-9; 2-6 AAC
2014 Bowl: N/A
2015 Returning Starters: 6 offense, 7 defense

Odds to win 2016 CFB Championship: +990000
Odds to win 2015 AAC Title: +10000
Regular Season Wins: Over 4 (+105), Under 4 (-125)
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Tulane’s RB group should be able to propel the offense, but it’s going to need a lot more from Tanner Lee to approach respectability.


The Tulane Green Wave is as good as QB Tanner Lee, but last season that wasn’t very good, especially in the latter half of the season as it dropped five of its final six games.

Tanner Lee made his anticipated debut as a redshirt freshman QB last season but the results were disappointing. Tulane went just 2-6 in ACC play and ranked 107th in total offense and 121st in points. The team failed to score 14 or more in eight of the last nine games, too, a fitting cap on a disappointing season.

Lee was also a huge part of the problem with his interception issues (14 last year), and he only threw 12 TDs on the year. He threw for 262 yards and three TDs against Tulsa in the opener but defenses were able to confound him quite often and his receiving corp was mostly inexperienced freshman struggling to get open.

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These guys are now experienced for sophomores and should improve on that basis alone, but the improvement has to be vast given just how poor it all worked out last season. WR Teddy Veal led the team with 40 catches for 381 yards and TE Charles Jones and Trey Scott both were key offensive fixtures in spring, so expect a lot of TE sets this season for Tulane.

The RBs ranked 91st nationally last year but should be far better with an improved OL that can create some holes. The best three backs are Lazedrick Thompson, Dontrell Hilliard and Sherman Badie. Badie rushed for 688 yards at 5.7 yards per carry, while Badie was good for 533 yards and four TDs. He also had three runs of more than 70 yards on the season.

Defensively Tulane returns its key starters. It should be a lot more like its 2013 numbers when it ranked No. 22 in the nation in yards allowed. Last year, it was 55th. The biggest key will be finding a replacement for Lorenzo Doss, the CB who declared for the draft after picking off 15 passes in three NCAA seasons.

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Darion Monroe was a 4-star recruit in 2012 and is back for his fourth season at S. Sophomore CB Parry Nickerson made 51 tackles last year and led the team with six INTs. At LB there is Nico Marley who stands just 5’9” and 200 pounds but led the Conference as Co-Freshman of the Year as he had 13.5 tackles for loss and was a huge energy player in the Green Wave ‘D.’

The Wave are also good at tackle where they have junior Tanzel Smart, who had 47 stops and could be a pick for All-AAC this season. Sophomore Sean Wilson mans the other corner. The ends are weaker though with Royce LaFrance’s inconsistency and LaFrance also missed spring with academic issues. He has to be there, and good.

Losing third-year sophomore Jarrod Franklin in spring is a loss that most might not have noticed readily, but he could still make a big contribution in nickel sets.  His continued recovery is worth monitoring as he could be a key part of keeping the defensive attack versatile.  He’s placing with a brace now but doesn’t appear to be overly encumbered by it.

The kicking game was weak for Tulane last year, but special teams are a priority for the Green Wave this year. Kicking was abysmal last year, missing half of the 16 attempts, and the solution may be found in senior walk-on Trevor Simms, who has great range but middling accuracy.

Andrew DiRocco missed a 21 harder that could have won opener against Tulsa and he was rattled ever after. Incoming freshman P Zach Block could help punting units a lot. On returns, Badie may be used so that the team can improve in an area it ranked second-to-last nationally in last year. Punting teams were also poor, allowing Peter Picerelli to average just 37.8 yards per punt.

The Wave should be slightly better this year, but only slightly. The team is gaining experience and will continue to improve in through next season most likely. Lee really has to become competent and he was anything but for most of last season. He passes the eye test, initially, but a poor OL didn’t do him any favors and his accuracy just wasn’t good.

The RBs are an interesting group of combining talents and the Wave may have a reasonably good rush game this season. That will help a lot in the AAC and having a top-25 defense would round this all out to a pretty good team. The thing is, the defensive improvement may not be quite that great, and the likely scenario is that the unit ranks around 35th nationally. Even that improvement, however, should be good enough to push Tulane to the ‘over.’

Tulane coach Curtis Johnson said “We’re on the rise.” We agree with that.

Prediction: 5 wins

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  1. This is absolutely the worst preview given. The things that are being said aren’t valid at all. Tanner Lee is a very good quarterback who had his freshman share of mistakes and will capitalize this year from what I have been seeing. He was asked to lead a young offense in maybe the most complicated playbook in the country, while being young himself. Tanner will be stellar. Also, defensively there is no weak spot, especially at defensive end with Lafrance and Aruna. LaFrance is a all conference defensive end, 1st team preseason ALL AAC player, and Lombardi award watchlist player for a reason. Don’t discredit the young men’s efforts on the field.

  2. Thanks for commenting, but I’m mostly basing a lot of things on last year and Lee was bad. If he turns it around this year, you’ll be mostly right, but if he doesn’t and performs much the same, 5 wins is the top out… That’s actually one win more than Vegas gives them, so I’m not the only one that thinks the team is mediocre as two day old soup. You can protest the Vegas prediction and mine, but all it does is reek of homerism, and that’s not the greatest look for people trying to be taken seriously.

  3. And if you say the defense is so great why was it 55th in the nation? That’s pretty damn average, and there’s really no reason to think it improves back to what it once was in a single season. Yes, much like winning more games, it may happen, but odds are against it and LaFrance was inconsistent. It’s as though you are modeling this defense on the talents of its best players while also ignoring their faults. Again, the homerism I spoke of.

  4. In seven of the ten losses last year, Tulane’s defense gave up 31 or more points. That isn’t good, especially when you consider apart from a double overtime loss to Tulsa, they didn’t score more than 21 in any of the losses. As for Lee, throwing for less than 2,000 yards with 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions are not great numbers by any stretch, regardless of missing two games. Complicated playbook or not, most of the quarterbacks who throw for less than 2,000 yards are dual threat quarterbacks who do more damage running. Lee certainly doesn’t fit into that category.

  5. Have you seen or even got a glimpse of this teams talent, how many of those guys from last season that have a year of playing time under their belt and have matured both mentally and physically, many of those kids who had played last year was just playing on Friday nights before that. They now have a year under their belt and are very much seasoned.
    Remember 2013 Tulane team was very young in 2012 and after those kids got a year under their belt they were a bowl team. Sometimes research the ends and outs to make a prediction if you want it to be close to the finished product.

  6. And as for Ken Langston, you obviously haven’t watched any Tulane games or even keep up with them to comment on this discussion. Tulane held Georgia Tech to the least yardage that they had on anyone that season, including Mississippi State, Florida State, and Miami. Against Memphis Tulane held those guys the whole game until towards the end when the defense began to get worn down because of offense 3 and outs. You’re also a person who should research before giving ignorant input.

  7. James, I do admire your passion for your team. You are right I didn’t watch a lot of Tulane football last year. I don’t waste time watching terrible three win teams. I did watch the Georgia Tech game you referenced. While they did lead 21-14 early in the second, Tulane would never score again while Georgia Tech outscored them 24-0 for the rest of the game.

    In that game, Georgia Tech rushed for 389 yards and only passed for 15 yards. Against the other three teams, Georgia Tech passed for at least 53 yards. That partly explains why Tulane held them to less yardage than those teams.

    As for the Memphis game, yes, Tulane held them to 334 total yards. Memphis did have two pick sixes in that game. However, Tulane lost that game 38-7. Only a late meaningless touchdown prevented a shutout.

    What you are describing in both games you referenced are moral victories. We didn’t get killed by as many points as we should have. Yayyyy team!

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