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Tulane turns to Jonathan Banks as starter at QB

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Last season, there was just one FBS team — Army and its triple-option (967) — that passed for fewer yards than Tulane’s 1,360.  Tulane’s team passing efficiency rating of 93.12 was 128th of the 128 teams at this level of football.  Their completion percentage of 42.2 was, again, 128th in the FBS.  Their 5.3 yards per attempt was… 127th.

This season, the Green Wave’s passing hopes in a run-heavy offense will likely land on the shoulders of a junior college transfer.

Throughout the spring, Jonathan Banks had taken the majority of reps with the first-team offense.  Tuesday, Willie Fritz confirmed that Banks will be his starter under center heading into summer camp and, presumably, for the program’s season opener against Grambling at home Sept. 2.

At least for now, Banks has staked his claim to the job after a competition that included Glen Cuiellette and Jonathan Brantley, the starter and backup, respectively, last season.

“He did a good job this spring picking things up,” the head coach said according to nola.com. “We evaluated practices 1 through 15 and I thought, for a guy coming into a new situation, he did a very good job. He provides us with both a passing and a running threat, which in our offense you need to have.

“We’re excited about his development.”

ESPN acquires Miami Beach Bowl, will move it out of Florida

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The state of Florida will play host to one less bowl game when the 2017 postseason rolls around.

The American Athletic Conference, which created the Miami Beach Bowl and has owned and operated the event since 2014, announced Friday that the game has been purchased by ESPN.  The AAC will continue its affiliation with the bowl game; it’s expected Conference USA, the MAC and Sun Belt will do the same.

The conference also confirmed that the game will no longer be played at Marlins Park or in the state of Florida.  A new venue will be announced at a later date, although the state of Texas is the early favorite to land the bowl.

“We are proud of the postseason opportunities that we have been able to provide to student-athletes through our founding of the Miami Beach Bowl, and we appreciate the relationships that we have built with the Miami Marlins, Marlins Park and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach,” said AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “This transfer makes sense on many levels. We are excited to enhance our overall relationship with ESPN and to continue our affiliation with the bowl.”

Memphis (2014), Tulsa (2016) and USF (2015) have previously represented the AAC in the game.  The first two won their matchups with BYU and Central Michigan, respectively, while the latter dropped a 10-point decision to Western Kentucky.

Tulane’s starting kicker last three years no longer on team

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A long-time presence on Tulane’s special teams is all of a sudden no longer present.

By way of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, head coach Willie Fritz confirmed that Andrew DiRocco is no longer a part of his Green Wave football team. No reason for the placekicker’s departure from the football program was given.

DiRocco still has eligibility remaining and could choose the graduate transfer route if he wants to continue playing collegiately. Just what his next steps are football-wise are unclear.

“He’s going to be graduating in the summer and it was a good move for him. We’re excited for him,” the head coach, whose Green Wave kicked off spring practice yesterday, said.

The past three seasons, DiRocco connected on 27-41 field goal attempts (65.9 percent) and 83-87 extra points (95.4 percent). Only one other kicker (Randy Harvey) attempted an extra point in that span, and no one other than DiRocco tried a field goal during that same time.

Harvey, a sophomore, is still on the Green Wave’s roster, and will compete with sophomore Zachary Block and freshman Merek Glover to replace DiRocco.

Auburn adds Tulane to 2019 schedule

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A pair of old SEC rivals are set to revive their series.

Friday afternoon, Tulane announced that it has reached an agreement to play Auburn during the 2019 season.  The one-off game will be played Sept. 7 of that year at, of course, Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn.

The two teams have met 37 times previously, with 22 of those contests counting as conference matchups as both were members of the SEC (the Green Wave was a member from 1932-66).  The first meeting occurred in 1902 with the last coming in 2006.  The Green Wave holds a 17-14-6 advantage in the all-time series.

This is the second non-conference game for the 2019 season that Auburn has announced.  AU will also face Oregon in Arlington to open that season.

In addition to playing at Auburn, Tulane will host Florida International (Aug. 31) and FCS Missouri State (Sept. 14) as part of its 2019 non-conference schedule while also playing Army (Oct. 5).

Houston reportedly hires former Tulane coach Chris Scelfo as new offensive line coach

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One day before the Atlanta Falcons play in Super Bowl LI in Houston, a former assistant is expected to get a job in the same city.

According to the Houston Chronicle, ex-Falcons tight ends coach Chris Scelfo has been hired by Major Applewhite to coach the offensive line for the Cougars.

Scelfo most notably was the head coach at Tulane from 1998-2006, winning two bowl games with the Green Wave but otherwise posting a lackluster 37–57 record.