Rick Bouch takes a look at the Tulane Green Wave as head coach Curtis Johnson prepares them for the 2015 College Football Season.
Nov 8, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Tulane Green Wave head coach Curtis Johnson during the game against the Houston Cougars at TDECU Stadium. (Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
(C+P) — It’s Year 4 of the Curtis Johnson era at Tulane and with spring practice underway the question remains: Does the Green Wave have what it takes to keep Johnson off the coaching hot seat?
One thing that must happen is improvement on offense. Tulane was among the worst in the nation a year ago at putting points on the board. The offense averaged just 16 points a game, which was 124th in the country. The offense starts at quarterback where the Green Wave will return Tanner Lee, who took his lumps as a freshman last season. Lee, 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, completed 185-of-336 pass attempts for 1,962 yards. He threw for 12 touchdowns but did throw 14 interceptions. That ratio will have to change.
An improved running game that was led by another freshman, Sherman Badie, would help take some of the pressure off Lee. Badie rushed for 688 yards on 121 carries. Lazedrick Thompson added 503 yards on 109 carries as Tulane rushed for 145 yards per game.
Defensively, the Green Wave was not awful, but this year’s schedule will prove to be a challenge. Johnson and his defense will face Georgia Tech, Navy and Army. All three schools run the triple option and are among the leading rushing teams in the nation year after year.
Then, there is the American Athletic Conference schedule. The Green Wave does not play Cincinnati or East Carolina, both bowl teams a year ago, but will have to face defending league champ Memphis, Central Florida and Houston. If Johnson can get improved play from his offense, he could enjoy the kind of success he did in Year 2 when he took the Green Wave to a 7-6 mark and their first bowl since 2002.
That 2013 season was just Tulane’s third winning season since Tommy Bowden went 12-0 and won the Conference USA title back in 1998.