2023 Louisiana Football Preview: Tulane

Tulane Green Wave

By Grant Chachere

Tulane QB Michael Pratt (Photo courtesy of Tulane Athletics)

Outlook

The Tulane Green Wave had one of the greatest turnarounds in football history. After going 2-10 in 2021, Tulane defeated UCF in the American Athletic Conference Championship and stunned USC in the final seconds to win the Cotton Bowl to finish the season 12-2.

Head coach Willie Fritz has done a fantastic job with the Green Wave. Since 1980, the Green Wave had only gone to five bowls. Since Fritz arrived in Uptown new-orleans in 2016, Tulane has been to a bowl game in 4 out of the past five years going 3-1 in the postseason.

Tulane center Sincere Haynesworth (Photo courtesy of Tulane Athletics)

Although they will miss former star RB Tyjae Spears who has since gone to the NFL, the Green Wave will still retain some key members from last season’s team.

Moreover, with the talent that they have and the exodus of AAC powers Cincinnati, Houston and UCF, the Green Wave will have a chance to repeat as conference champions which hasn’t happened in over 90 years.

Offense

You cannot talk about the Green Wave offense without talking about fourth-year starting quarterback Michael Pratt (6-3, 220, Jr.). Pratt threw for 3,010 yards with 27 touchdowns and just five interceptions in 14 games. He also was deadly on the ground as he rushed for nearly 500 yards with 10 rushing scores.

Tulane WR Jha'Quan Jackson (Photo courtesy of Tulane Athletics)

Pratt should be well protected this season as the offensive line returns four out of its five starters from last season. The most notable name among the group is first-team All-Conference center Sincere McCormick (6-1 310, Sr.), who will enter this season as a rare fifth-year starter as he gained the role midway through the 2019 season. Left tackle Cameron Wire (6-6, 305, R-Sr.), who is a transfer from LSU, is the only new starter among this group.

Tulane TE Alex Bauman making the game-winning touchdown catch against USC in the Cotton Bowl (Photo courtesy of Tulane Athletics)

Despite losing his top two receivers to graduation, Pratt will still have some weapons to throw to. Wide receiver Jhaquan Johnson (5-11, 185, Sr.) returns after having a solid year last season where he tallied 33 receptions for 554 yards with three touchdowns. His biggest touchdown came when he caught an 87-yard touchdown pass from Pratt in the Cotton Bowl against USC. Johnson’s touchdown catch was the longest pass play of the year for Tulane. Former Notre Dame transfer wide receiver Lawrence Keys III (5-11, 170, R-Sr.) and tight end Alex Bauman (6-5, 245, So.), who caught the game-winning touchdown against USC in the Cotton Bowl, also return.

Former Colorado transfer and new-orleans native Shaadie Clayton-Johnson (6-1, 205, R-So.) will have to fill in the very big shoes that Spears left behind. Clayton-Johnson rushed for 333 yards with two touchdowns on 5.8 yards per carry.

Tulane DT Patrick Jenkins stuffing USC in the redzone for the crucial safety in the Cotton Bowl. (Photo courtesy of Tulane Athletics)

Defense

Although the Green Wave lost its defensive coordinator Chris Hampton to Oregon as well as its top five tacklers, they should be fine as they still have some pieces from last year’s team. Tulane also brought in former Troy defensive coordinator Shiel Wood. Wood coached a defense last season that was ranked 18th nationally and was most responsible for helping Troy win the Sun Belt last season.

Tulane DL Darius Hodges (Photo courtesy of Tulane Athletics)

Tulane’s defensive line will return some major pieces in Patrick Jenkins (39 tackles, nine for loss, three sacks), Keith Cooper (22 tackles, four tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks) and Darius Hodges (39 tackles, eight tackles for loss, five sacks). Jenkins had 39 tackles (nine for loss) and three sacks the year before. He was also the one who made the stop in the endzone to give USC a safety and to allow Tulane's offense to get the ball for the eventual game-winning drive at the end of the game in the Cotton Bowl.

Although Tulane lost two talented linebackers, Dorian Williams and Nick Anderson, they will bring in Louisiana Tech transfer Tyler Grubbs (6-2, 230, Jr.) to help fill that void. At Louisiana Tech, Grubbs had 241 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and four sacks throughout his three-year tenure with the Bulldogs.

Tulane DB Jarius Monroe (Photo courtesy of Tulane Athletics)

The defensive backfield is also very strong for the Green Wave as they return Jarius Monroe (49 tackles, three interceptions, eight pass break-ups) and Lance Monroe (34 tackles, two tackles for loss, five pass breakups). They also brought in UL Lafayette transfer safety Kam Pedescleaux (5-9, 185, R-Sr.). A fifth-year player, Pedescleaux had 197 tackles (17 for loss), three scaks, three interceptions and 16 pass breakups during his time with the Ragin' Cajuns.

Special Teams

Tulane will return starting kicker Valentino Ambrosio. Ambrosio did not miss a single extra point attempt (43-43) and went 11-for-12 on field goal attempts last season. Ambrosio’s longest field goal was 47 yards.

Returning starter Casey Glover will handle the punting duties once again. Jha’Quan Jackson will handle punt returns again where he hopes to continue his success as he housed one return last year for a touchdown. Lawrence Keys will kick return duties.

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