WHAT WE LEARNED
Tulane has playmakers on both sides of the ball. As always, the spring game was ragged, but the past three editions under coach Willie Fritz had a paucity of points. This one featured six touchdowns — four by the offense and two by the defense — plus four turnovers and four sacks. Justin McMillan threw a gorgeous 50-yard strike to wideout Darnell Mooney. Jalen McCleskey made a touchdown on a quick slant look easy. The Green Wave has plenty to work on, but the raw talent for a run at the American Athletic Conference title is there.
Tulane’s defensive depth is better than any time in recent memory. Never mind the ridiculously deep defensive line, which has been covered ad nauseum. Nickelbacks Tirise Barge and Will Harper, vying for a starting spot, each made multiple plays. Harper showed outstanding anticipation, jumping a route for an early interception, and pressured McMillan into a throwaway on a blitz a little later. Barge, who had an outstanding spring, broke up a pass and sprinted 70 yards for a touchdown on a fumble return. Cornerback Chris Joyce, No. 4 in the pecking order, defended every pass thrown in his direction.
The areas of biggest concern entering the fall will be the offensive line and safeties. The line struggled against the defensive front (although most teams will), is replacing three starters from last season and has not reached the level Fritz would like in the past. The arrival of Virginia transfer Ben Knutson in the summer should help create more competition. The graduation of three-year starter Roderic Teamer is a concern in the back end, with no proven replacement at strong safety. Free safety P.J. Hall, who can play every DB spot, needs to be more consistent in coverage.