Look good, feel good, play good. College football players the world over know this saying and let’s just say that Tulane players were certainly feeling it on Friday night.
The Green Wave used a surprisingly feisty defense and scored on a number of big plays on the other side of the ball to thump Memphis 40-24 and make quite the statement during their AAC opener.
But first, let us all marvel in the debut of the newest edition of the “angry” Green Wave helmet. While you could nitpick with the black uniforms it was paired with, that helmet design is one of the better designs out there in college football. Given how well things went against the Tigers, we’re guessing they’re going to be a semi-permanent addition to the wardrobe too.
As impressive as those helmets were though, the play on the field was just as stellar. Quarterback Jonathan Banks was a solid triggerman in keeping the offense going, throwing for 127 yards and rushing for 32 more. He exited in the second half with a minor injury after a scramble and backup Justin McMillan (who used to play at LSU) proved there was not much of a drop off by promptly throwing a 51 yard touchdown to Darnell Mooney (94 yards total on the night) on his first snap behind center.
Darius Bradwell led the way on the ground with 143 yards rushing and two scores while Texas Tech transfer Corey Dauphine was even more efficient with 87 yards on 12 carries with two more touchdowns.
Still, the story of the game was probably the Tulane defense. The front seven dominated in the trenches and recorded seven sacks, more than they had in their previous four games. Even more impressive was the manner in which they shut down the nation’s leading rusher in Darrell Henderson. The Memphis tailback — who came in averaging 12.2 yards per carry — took his first touch 47 yards to the house but had just six more carries for four yards the rest of the night (he did add a 43 yard touchdown reception as well).
Tigers QB Brady White was not any better, completing only 14 passes for 246 yards and two scores as the previously high octane offense stalled out completely in the face of some serious pressure. After they went down by multiple scores, things just compounded and got worse, including the team giving up a safety that all but signaled the game was over.
The win was Tulane’s first against Memphis since 2000 and snapped an 0-11 streak against the Tigers, which surprisingly dropped to 0-2 in the AAC already after beginning the year as the West Division favorites.