By Craig Fields
Saturday – October 5 – 2:30 PM
Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans
The North Texas Mean Green had the week off and will undoubtedly be the fresher team when they take on the Tulane Green Wave.
They will be the fresher team, but will they be the more confident of the two teams? That is hard to say at this point. The Green Wave are coming off of a 31-14 trouncing of the University of Louisiana-Monroe.
Last year Tulane was slaughtered by ULM 63-10. This current result just goes to show that this is a different team. With the win over ULM, Tulane’s record sits at 3-2, their highest win total since 2010 when they won four games.
“It just goes to say how far we’ve come because you can never told me after we played this game last year we’d be on the road and win this game going away and then splitting the three game road trip. …. I think our coaches and our players really believe in what we’re doing and they didn’t flinch,” Tulane coach Curtis Johnson said. “They had no fear. They came up here and took care of business.”
With a confident bunch coming to Denton this week, the Mean Green just might have their hands full. Now the Mean Green are coming off of a chance to rest with the bye week. That also meant coming off of an extra week to think about that hard fought loss to then #9 ranked Georgia Bulldogs.
Even though they did lose, the Mean Green now knows that they can hang with the “big dogs” (pun intended) at least for a little while. The senior leadership on this team on both sides of the ball continues to be an asset that Coach Dan McCarney can utilize when adversity hits his team. We have seen it in the first game and third game of the season when North Texas was down big and continued to fight.
Through four games this season senior quarterback Derek Thompson has completed 67.6% of his passes for 1020 yards and six touchdowns with three interceptions. Not bad. The Mean Green has a total of 529 yards on the ground as well. They will look to improve those numbers against a team that allows a total of 361.6 yards per game. The Green Wave also allows 26 points a game. Not terrible but not great.
The main thing the Mean Green will need to do is limit the big plays early. In four straight games this year the Mean Green have had to overcome early deficits because of carelessness on defense. Tulane has weapons and they are not afraid to use them.
Green Wave receiver Ryan Grant is one of the top pass catchers in the NCAA with 461 yards and four touchdowns in just five games. He is a short, medium and long threat, meaning that he has the speed, agility, and eye sight to turn a five yard completion into an 80-yard catch and run. North Texas sophomore defensive back Kenny Buyers will have to be on alert every time Grant is on the field.
The weapons do not stop there. Tulane senior running back Orleans Darkwa has 303 yards rushing the ball to go along with six touchdowns. At 6’0 and 210 pounds he is not only a load to take down but is also shifty. North Texas’ front seven will need to be able to get off of their blocks to tackle this guy.
This Saturday we will see which Green will come out on top. Will it be the Mean Green of North Texas or the Green Wave of Tulane? Only time will tell.