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Tsunami Warning: Winning Football In The Big Easy

Which bowl game was arguably one of, if not the best, bowl game of 2022? A game in which both teams combined for 1133 yards of total offense and 45 first downs. A 15-point deficit was erased in the last four minutes of the 4th quarter—the greatest victory for a program that had won just 2 games the previous season.

That bowl game was the Cotton Bowl played at Jerry's World in Arlington, TX. And that program, which cemented itself in the annals of college football history by producing one of the greatest single-season turnarounds ever is the Tulane Green Wave.

Yes, Tulane rose above its station in college football in 2022 and finished 12-2 and won the AAC Championship. They earned that trip to the Cotton Bowl as the highest-ranked Group of 5 teams.

The last time the Green Wave won that many games, QB Shaun King directed them to an undefeated 12-0 season in 1998.

Wave Runner

The Green Wave returns 14 starters from the 2022 AAC Coach of the Year Willie Fritz's squad. And they return experience and leadership to the quarterback position as 2nd Team All-AAC selection Michael Pratt returns to run the offense.

Pratt passed for 3010 yards, 27 TDs, and 5 INTs. He completed 63% of his passes. In addition, he rushed for 478 yards and 10 more scores. After missing week 5, Pratt threw 20 touchdown passes and only 2 INTs the rest of the season.

He passed for over 300 yards four times and threw 3 touchdown passes in a game four times. Against SMU, he accounted for six touchdowns (3 rushing, 3 passing). In the South Florida game, Pratt racked up four touchdowns (2 rushing, 2 passing).

In the AAC Championship Game vs UCF, Pratt passed for 394 yards and accounted for five total touchdowns in a 45-28 win to earn a berth in the NY6 bowls. They headed west to the house that Jerry built to face off against the mighty USC Trojans.

In a well-played, back-and-forth affair, Pratt threw for 234 yards and 2 TDs and added 83 yards on the ground against Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and the Men of Troy. With 0:09 left, Pratt threw the game-winning TD pass to true freshman TE Alex Bauman to secure the biggest win in Tulane football history.

Threaux Me Something, Mister!

In 2023, Pratt will have dependable targets to throw to in WR Jha’Quan Jackson (33 passes, 554 yards, 3 TDs) and the aforementioned Bauman (8 catches, 112 yards, and 1 all-important touchdown).

Protecting Pratt will be 4 of 5 offensive line starters from last year’s team.

Running Back Room: Thin on Production and Experience

The Green Wave lost their best running back, Tajae Spears, to the Tennessee Titans after he rushed for 1581 yards and 19 TDs on the ground. Spears ran for 205 yards (12-yard average) on that USC defense.

So, it is next man up.

That man appears to be Shaadie Clayton-Johnson. Johnson rushed for only 333 yards and just 2 touchdowns in 2022.

A Strong Defense Wins Championships

Tulane returns 8 starters on a defense that allowed 22 points per game:

· DE Keith Cooper: 22 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 3 sacks.

· DT Patrick Jenkins: 39 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 3 sacks

· DL Darius Hodges: 37 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 5 sacks.

· DL Angelo Anderson: 17 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss.

· DL Eric Hicks: 28 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss.

· CB Jarius Monroe: 49 tackles, 3 INTs, 1 tackle for loss, 8 pass breakups.

· CB Jadon Canady: 20 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 fumble return for TD.

· CB Lance Robinson: 34 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 5 pass breakups.

Another player to watch is LB Tyler Grubbs, a transfer from Louisiana Tech. Grubbs has 244 career tackles to his credit, including 48 stops in 2022.

Can Fans Expect More of the Same in 2023?

The Krewe of Fritz returned to the Big Easy as conquering heroes, celebrated in the streets of the French Quarter.

There has not been that much excitement around a football team since Drew Brees and the Saints brought home the Lombardi Trophy at the conclusion of the 2009 season.

What can Green Wave fans in the big easy expect in 2023?

The Green Wave has an experienced leader under center. Their defense will be stout. If they can find someone to step up at running back and be a consistent and productive nightmare for defensive coordinators in the AAC, then the Green Wave will have a 2022-ish season.

With the 86th toughest schedule in the country, according to Phil Steele, Tulane can repeat as AAC Champs.



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