Tulane football to host Rice in homecoming contest

Tulane football to host Rice in homecoming contest
Lagniappe Sports

POSTED: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 1:45pm

UPDATED: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 1:49pm

The Tulane University football team will look to celebrate Homecoming 2012 in style when the Green Wave play host to Conference USA foe Rice on Saturday, Nov. 3, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

The game is part of an action-packed day as local band Bag of Donunts will kickoff tailgating at Champions Square at 11 a.m., the 2012 Tulane Hall of Fame Class will be introduced during the first half, and the Homecoming Court along with the coronation of the king and queen will take place at halftime. In addition, the winner of the Hullabaloo Auction raffle for a Rolex watch will be announced during the second half. Raffle tickets can be purchased on Friday at the Lavin-Bernick Center in the heart of Tulane’s uptown campus as well as during the Hullabaloo Auction on Friday from 6-8:30 p.m. in the Kendall Cram Room of the LBC.

“I just want to go out there and play as well as we possibly can,” first-year Tulane head football coach Curtis Johnson said. “I want this to be our best game. We’ll have a lot of alumni and a lot of boosters here who are coming back for Homecoming. I just want to play well, try and win each quarter and at the end of the game, I’d like to have a victory this week.”

The Tulane/Rice game will be broadcast on the flagship station of Green Wave athletics, WIST AM 690, and live video streaming will be available via the web at www.TulaneGreenWave.com to paid members of the All-Access Pass. Live stats will also be on-line courtesy of GameTracker, and fans will once again have a chance to insert their opinion and ask questions interactively through “Tulane Live.”

Tulane enters Saturday’s ballgame 2-6 on the year, 2-2 in C-USA play and winners of two of its last three games after defeating UAB last weekend 55-45. As a team, the Green Wave are averaging 297.0 yards of total offense per game (42.9 rushing, 254.1 passing) while giving up an average of 493.1 (245.1 rushing, 248.0 passing).

Senior quarterback Ryan Griffin, who claimed Conference USA and Louisiana Offensive Player of the Week honors for his performance against the Blazers, leads the Green Wave offense with 1,445 yards and 11 touchdowns on 120-of-179 passing (.670) for the year.

Junior wide receiver Ryan Grant is one of six Tulane players with 10-plus receptions so far this season and leads the squad with 37 catches for 658 yards (17.8 avg.) and five touchdowns. Sophomore running back Rob Kelley is next for the Wave with 32 grabs and three scoring receptions, and sophomore wideout Justyn Shackleford is second on the squad with 407 receiving yards.

Kelley paces the Tulane ground game with 240 yards on 61 carries (3.9 avg.), and junior Orleans Darkwa has a team-best two rushing touchdowns while compiling 170 yards on 54 totes.

Defensively, the Green Wave have 11 sacks among 36 tackles for loss, 26 pass break-ups and 14 forced turnovers with eight interceptions and six fumble recoveries.

Freshman safety Darion Monroe leads the way with 57 tackles (38 solo, 19 assists), followed by junior linebacker Zach Davis with 45 (30 solo, 15 assists) while senior cornerback Ryan Travis (25 solo, 13 assists) and senior linebacker Darryl Farley (21 solo, 17 assists) have 38 tackles each.

Senior defensive end Austen Jacks paces Tulane with 3.5 sacks among a team-best 7.5 tackles for loss. Freshman corner Lorenzo Doss, who was tabbed Louisiana Co-Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, leads the team with three interceptions, Travis headlines the secondary with five pass break-ups and sophomore defensive tackle Kenny Welcome has two of the team’s eight forced fumbles.

“One thing you have to do to turn a program around the way you want it to be and turn some corners, the first thing you have to do is start winning Homecoming games,” Johnson said. “Then you have to start winning home games, and then you go on the road and you start winning. This is a first step to see where we are. It’s a good team we’re playing against and it’ll be a great challenge for us, but we’d like to come out victorious on this one.”

Rice, meanwhile, comes to town 3-6 on the year, 1-4 in league action and looking to build on the momentum of a 44-17 thumping of Southern Miss last Saturday in Houston. As a team, the Owls are averaging 410.6 yards of total offense per game (203.6 rushing, 207.0 passing) while giving up an average of 454.1 (229.1 rushing, 225.0 passing).

Quarterback Taylor McHargue leads the Rice offense with 1,928 yards of total offense after completing 131-of-231 yards for 1,415 yards and nine touchdowns through the air and running 104 times for 513 yards and eight scores on the ground.

Sam McGuffie is one of four Owls’ wideouts to haul in at least 15 passes and tally at least 200 yards receiving and leads the team with 39 receptions and five touchdown grabs while sitting second on the team with 418 yards. Jordan Taylor ranks second on the squad with 38 catches and paces the squad with 492 receiving yards.

On defense, Rice has 16 sacks among 46 tackles for loss, broke up 37 passes and forced 17 turnovers with nine fumble recoveries and eight interceptions.

Paul Porras leads the Owls with 73 tackles (52 solo, 21 assists), followed by Cameron Nwosu with 61 (33 solo, 28 assists) and Julius White with 60 (41 solo, 19 assists). Cody Bauer headlines the Rice unit with 9.0 tackles for loss and Hosam Shahin has a team-leading 4.0 sacks. Phillip Gaines leads the way with 16 pass break-ups while Nwosu, White and Bryce Callahan share team-high interception honors with two apiece.

“I think the matchup is between to very similar teams. They’ve got a quarterback that’s dynamic. He does things differently. He’ll run with decision making in his feet. Our quarterback does things with his arm a little bit, but both are team leaders. The defenses are very similar. The offenses are very similar, so it’s a very, very similar match-up.”

Saturday’s game marks the 35th time the two teams have met on the gridiron and Rice holds an 18-15-1 lead in the all-time series, including a 4-3 mark since the Owls joined C-USA for the 2005 season. Last season, the Owls defeated the Green Wave 19-7 on Nov. 19 in Houston while Tulane won the previous meeting in the Superdome, 54-49, on Nov. 13, 2010.

Tickets this weekend’s game as well as future Green Wave events are available through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the Wilson Center on Ben Weiner Drive, and tickets can be purchased in person, over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.

The ticket office at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, located at Gate A Ground facing Poydras Street, will open on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and the gates will be opened to the public at 1:30 p.m.

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