Darion Monroe tallies career-high 12 tackles; defense forces three turnovers in the loss
NEW ORLEANS – Spirits were high when the Tulane University football team took the field for Saturday’s game against Ole Miss in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Donning all white uniforms and sporting the No. 18 on the left side of their helmets in support of injured teammate Devon Walker – who suffered a spine injury in Tulane’s last game on Sept. 8 at Tulsa – the Green Wave were not only attempting to pick up their first win of the year but also give their fallen family member a boost emotionally with a solid showing against the Rebels. Ole Miss, however, had other ideas as the Rebels rolled to a 39-0 victory.
Freshman defensive back Darion Monroe had a game-high 12 solo tackles, and the Green Wave defense forced a trio of turnovers via fumble recovery, but it was not enough as the Rebels scored 26 first-quarter points and never looked back. With the loss, Tulane falls to 0-3 on the year. Ole Miss, meanwhile, improved to 3-1.
“It was a tough outing for us,” first-year Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said. “The freshman quarterback played good in spots. Part of his learning curve is just being a freshman. It’s not the easiest position. The defense played well. Monroe was outstanding. Besides the high snap on the punt, I felt the special teams were pretty good. I thought the guys did a great job on the return game.
“For the most part, the efforts were pretty good. I think (Ole Miss) is a good football team. They can score a lot of points, and they showed that last week. They have some good players and we just couldn’t get it going enough offensively. I say again…we need to get better at running the ball. There’s only so much we can do with a young quarterback. He struggled a little bit and he had poor body language a couple of times. He’ll get better. It was his first true start and he’ll get better.”
Making the first start of his collegiate career, rookie quarterback Devin Powell completed 22-of-41 passes for 145 yards. He became the first true freshman to start under center for the Green Wave since Shaun King did so on Oct. 7, 1995, against Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.
Powell’s connected with nine different receivers and his favorite target of the day was junior Ryan Grant, who finished with six receptions for 55 yards. Redshirt-freshman wideout Marc Edwards set career highs with three grabs for 21 yards while sophomore Xavier Rush matched those totals. Sophomore running back Rob Kelley paced the Tulane ground game with 33 yards on 14 carries.
Things started off well for the Green Wave as Powell found Grant for a 32-yard strike on the game’s first play from scrimmage. Ole Miss forced a punt attempt and the snap got away from freshman Peter Picerelli to set the Rebel offense up at the Tulane 23. Two plays later, Jeff Scott scored on a 13-yard run to provide all the points Ole Miss would need.
The Rebels scored touchdowns on each of their first four drives – capping the second with a Ja-Mes Logan 14-yard run, the third with a 28-yard Randall Mackey score and the fourth with a 23-yard touchdown strike from Bo Wallace to Donte Moncrief – to take a commanding 26-0 advantage.
Tulane had a chance to get on the scoreboard midway through the second quarter as a forced fumble by sophomore defensive tackle Kenny Welcome and subsequent recovery by junior defensive end Wendell Beckwith gave the Green Wave the ball at the Ole Miss 23-yard line. Powell and the offense drove down to the Rebels’ two, but a fourth-down pass attempt fell harmlessly to the turf to turn the ball over on downs.
The Green Wave got another turnover – this time on a fumble recovery by senior cornerback Ryan Travis – on the second play of the third quarter, but the Tulane offense went three-and-out. Ole Miss followed Picerelli’s punt for a touchback by driving 80 yards on 15 plays capped by a four-yard Scott touchdown to extend the lead to 33-0.
A Powell interception on the ensuing drive gave Ole Miss the ball at the Green Wave 40, and the Rebels capitalized on the short field when Bryson Rose split the uprights from 40 yards out to make it 36-0. Rose accounted for the game’s final points with a 47-yard field goal with 5:09 left to play in regulation.
Undaunted, the Green Wave continued to fight and moved from their own 25-yard line to the Ole Miss three over the next six plays. On first-and-goal, however, Rebels’ defensive back Chief Brown picked off a Powell offering in the endzone to thwart the drive.
Wallace led the Ole Miss aerial attack with 101 yards and a touchdown on 7-of-16 passing while Barry Brunetti came off the bench to complete 5-of-7 tosses for 45 yards and run for a team-best 67 yards on 13 carries. Vince Sanders and Collins Moore shared team-high reception honors with two grabs each for 27 and 25 yards, respectively.
Safety Trae Elston led the Rebel defense with six tackles (4 solo, 2 assists) and had one of Ole Miss’ three sacks on the day. Brown, Dehendret Collins and Denzel Nkemdiche each had an interception and Collins added a pass break-up to his tally.
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, Sept. 29, when they play host to Louisiana-Monroe in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Kickoff for that contest is slated for 2:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast locally on Cox Sports Television.
Season and individual-game ticket sales for the 2012 football season are currently for sale 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.
--get postgame notes--
NOTES FOLLOWING TULANE FOOTBALL’S 39-0 LOSS TO OLE MISS
Ole Miss 39, Tulane 0
Tulane Game 3
New Orleans, La.
· Saturday’s game marked the 71st meeting between Tulane and Ole Miss. With the loss, Tulane fell to 42-38 in the all-time series. The loss was also the 11th in a row to the Rebels dating back to a 32-28 Ole Miss win on Oct. 21, 1989, in New Orleans.
· In showing support for injured teammate Devon Walker – who suffered a spine injury in the Green Wave’s last game at Tulsa on Sept. 8 – Tulane donned white jerseys and white pants. It was the first time the Green Wave wore white in a home game since Sept. 29, 2007, when Tulane wore specially-made Nike jerseys as part of a partnership in an effort to assist the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts in New Orleans.
· The Green Wave defense forced three fumbles and recovered a trio in Saturday’s contest against Ole Miss. It is the first time Tulane recovered three fumbles in a game since Oct. 30, 2010 vs SMU. The last time the defense forced at least three fumbles in a contest came on Nov. 26, 2011, when Tulane jarred the ball free four times in the season finale at Hawai’i.
· The shutout marked the first time the Green Wave failed to score since Nov. 21, 2009, when Tulane dropped a 49-0 decision at UCF.
· The shutout also marked the first time Tulane failed to score a touchdown since Sept. 10, 2011, when the Wave fell to Tulsa, 31-3, in the then-Louisiana Superdome.
· The Tulane defense’s seven tackles for loss and two sacks were both high-water marks for the 2012 season. The last time the Green Wave had at least seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage came on Nov. 19, 2011, when Tulane had 10 at Rice. The Wave’s previous multiple-sack outing was in the 2011 season finale at Hawai’i when Tulane posted a pair.
· Rookie Devin Powell started at quarterback for the Green Wave on Saturday against Ole Miss, becoming the first true freshman to do so for Tulane since Shaun King against these same Rebels on Oct. 7, 1995, in Oxford, Miss. Powell replaced injured senior Ryan Griffin under center, snapping Griffin’s 16-game starting streak. Powell finished the day 22-of-41 for 145 yards and three interceptions.
· Junior WR Ryan Grant, who hauled in six passes for 55 yards, has now caught at least one pass in his last 11 games. The last time Grant – who missed the final 12 games of the 2011 season due to injury – failed to catch a pass in a game he played in came on Oct. 9, 2010, against Army.
· Redshirt-freshman WR Marc Edwards posted career highs with three receptions for 21 yards against Ole Miss.
· Freshman Darion Monroe, who started the first two games of the 2012 season at cornerback, opened the game against Ole Miss at free safety and tallied a career-high 12 tackles (all solo).
· Monroe was one of seven Tulane players to post career-high tackle totals on Saturday against Ole Miss – joining freshman CB Jordan Batiste with five (all solo), freshman CB Lorenzo Doss with four (all solo), freshman DT Calvin Thomas with four (2 solo, 2 assists), junior DE Wendell Beckwith with three (2 solo, 1 assist), freshman DT Corey Redwine with three (2 solo, 1 assist), sophomore DB Brandon LeBeau with two (1 solo, 1 assist)
· Senior cornerback Ryan Travis tied a career high with three pass break-ups against Ole Miss. He previously set his personal best with a trio against UTEP on Oct. 15, 2011, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
· Sophomore running back Rob Kelley’s three-yard run as the up back in punt formation marked the first time Tulane successfully faked a punt since Oct. 29, 2011, at East Carolina. In the game against the Pirates, punter Jonathan Ginsburg took the snap and ran seven yards for a first down.
· Sophomore DT Kenny Welcome’s sack of Ole Miss Bo Wallace and subsequent forced fumble, along with junior DE Wendell Beckwith’s fumble recovery were all career firsts for the two Tulane student-athletes.
· Senior CB Alex Lauricella’s recovery of a Randall Mackey fumble was the first of his career.
· Senior CB Ryan Travis stripped Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, and the ball was recovered by freshman CB Lorenzo Doss. It was Doss’ first recovery of his career and Travis’ fourth forced fumble.
· Junior LB Zach Davis’ recorded the first sack of his career by bringing down Barry Brunetti during Ole Miss’ first drive of the fourth quarter.
· Junior punter Jonathan Gisnburgh made his season debut on Saturday against Ole Miss, punting twice for 73 yards (36.5 avg.) with a long of 43. Freshman Peter Picerelli handled the Green Wave’s other five punts, averaging 43.6 yards with a long of 53 and three downed inside the opponent 20-yard line.
· Three Tulane players extended their double-digit starting streaks on Saturday vs. Rutgers –senior DE Austen Jacks (28), senior CB Ryan Travis (28), senior OT Eric Jones (18)
· Sophomore Danté Butler earned his first career start on Saturday against Ole Miss, opening the game at running back. Butler joins freshman quarterback Devin Powell on the first-time starter list for the game, and the duo is two of 15 players to earn their first career starts during the 2012 season.
· Senior LB Darryl Farley, who did see action against the Rebels, saw his consecutive –game starting streak snapped at 16.
· Tulane’s game captains for Saturday's contest against Ole Miss were senior OT Eric Jones, senior DB Shakiel Smith and junior RB Derrick Strozier.
QUOTES FOLLOWING TULANE FOOTBALL’S 39-0 LOSS TO OLE MISS
Ole Miss 39, Tulane 0
Tulane Game 3
New Orleans, La.
HEAD COACH CURTIS JOHNSON
“It was a tough outing for us. The freshman quarterback played good in spots. Part of his learning curve is just being a freshman. It’s not the easiest position. The defense played well. Monroe was outstanding. Besides the high snap on the punt, I felt the special teams were pretty good. I thought the guys did a great job on the return game.”
On the efforts of the team
“I thought or the most part the efforts were pretty good. I think (Ole Miss) is a good football team. They can score a lot of points, they showed that last week. They have some good players and we just couldn’t get it going enough offensively. I say again because we need to get better at running the ball. There’s only so much we can do with a young quarterback. He struggled a little bit and he had poor body language a couple of times. He’ll get better. It was his first true start and he’ll get better.”
On the third down conversions
“It was a big deal; you want to keep the chains moving. I don’t think that they did anything to inhibit us on third down. I thought it was us. We have to be exact on third down and I think that’s something with Ryan Griffin we were pretty decent at. I think as a young quarterback, they pressure you on third down and that’s something that affected him.”
On the play of freshman Darion Monroe
“He was sensational. He can play anywhere, any position we need him to play he can play. He moved to safety out of necessity and he came up big. He reminds me of a young Ed Reed. He’s a fantastic player and I wish we could have more of him.”
On the play of freshman quarterback Devin Powell’s play
“What happens with young players is the game is faster than they think. For him, the game got a little fast sometimes. He said it last week, and he’ll probably say it again this week. He’ll catch up with the speed of the game.”
On the tributes to Devon Walker
“It was a collaboration of efforts by everyone. I think the players came up with twenty-one or twenty-two different suggestions, but we couldn’t do them all. I thought the t-shirts were a great idea. I don’t know if we’re going to wear them again, but I wouldn’t mind wearing them again. The helmet was sensational. Having the jersey out on the field was good, and his locker was dedicated also.”
On the emotions of Devon Walker on the players
“I think we wanted to win the game or him more than anything, but I think with the game it was about getting better on our assignments and getting our alignments down. We have to be sure to tackle and we need to convert third downs.”
On the team’s struggles running the ball
“We have to figure out what we can do and do it. We’ve tried almost every conceivable run, I don’t know if there’s anything easier to be done.”
On the status of quarterback Ryan Griffin and running back Orleans Darkwa
“I think (Ryan) will be back next week. From the early reports, he will be back next week. I think Griffin’s our starting quarterback. Griffin will help us to win games. I think Powell can be a change of pace guy, as we bring him along. It’s just too much for him right now. As we bring him along, he’ll do great, but it’s hard for him right now. On Darkwa, he’s an experienced player. The more experience you have, the more you can lead by example.”
On the play of the offensive line
“I don’t think we’ve really solidified the offensive line yet. Four of the five guys starting hadn’t played before. That’s no excuse, but we just have to play better.”
FRESHMAN QUARTERBACK DEVIN POWELL
“My thoughts were just about getting the job done. I just need to keep working on my progressions and continue to improve. If I can do that I think we can get the job done.”
On sustaining drive
“I have to finish for my team. I have to step up because getting hit is not really anything for me. I have to keep focusing and stay in the right frame of mind. I have to do what I am asked to do.”
On what can be taken from the game
“I just have to keep my composure a little better. That’s what I need to do is just keep my composure.”
FRESHMAN SAFETY DARION MONROE
On his 12-tackle performance
“It was pretty good. Twelve tackles didn’t mean much because we still lost. We are going to get back to the drawing board and we’re going to come out and win some games.”
On the defense’s performance and turnover production
“We caused a few turnovers. Our goal every week is to cause at least three turnovers and today I think we caused three, maybe four. We just have to come out and win some games. We have to get off the field and get the offense the ball. The more chances (the offense) has, the more they chances they have to make plays and put points on the scoreboard.”
On adjusting without Devon Walker
“It’s different because now I’m in his position so I feel him with me. I try to play just like (Devon). All week, I was watching film on how he played the position and I tried to mimic him. It worked out well. He was known for attacking the ball and I came out and made some tackles.”
On his comfort level at position
“I feel real comfortable back there. Coach (Jason) Rollins worked with me all week and he made me confident. I came out and made some plays and just did what I had to do. (Shakiel Smith) lined me up, the linebackers, they did their job. We made some plays but we still have to come out with a win.”
OLE MISS QUOTES
HEAD COACH HUGH FREEZE
“We were thrilled to get win number three on the season. I thought our defense played really well all afternoon, thought they played with good heart and were pretty sound. We didn’t give up many explosive plays like we’ve been guilty of the first few games. So I thought we made improvements there. Any time you shut somebody out at the division I level, you know everyone has some playmakers so you know you’ve had a good afternoon. Really good to see Chief (Brown) get that last play there to preserve that shut out. Offensively we’re all over the map, up and down; some good, but a lot of bad. You know when you don’t take care of the ball, you’re lucky to win. And we didn’t take care of it this afternoon. We’ve got to continue to work on that, but there were some positives in that aspect also.”
On Burnetti’s performance
“I thought he played solid. For the most part he took care of the ball. He had one mishap there on the exchange. But he took care of the ball and made the right progressions in his reads. He missed a touchdown on a play we had. He didn’t see our guy in the back field who could have walked in I think. I thought he played well, moved the change for us.”
On the dropoff during the second quarter
“I was very irritated at half time. I just thought we kind of lost our edge a little bit. We worked hard all morning and all night last night gearing them up for what we knew would be a different atmosphere. We’ve been at home three straight games and a lot of these young kids have never played a morning game. To put them in the Superdome which is a totally different environment we were really concerned. I couldn’t be more pleased with how they played in the first quarter and then couldn’t be more disappointed in the way we did not pay attention to details in the second quarter.”
On the turnovers
“They are just not high and tight with the ball and then traffic happens. We’ll watch the film to see, but that’s what it appeared to me live.”
On how getting ahead 26 points in the first quarter allowed for experimentation on both sides of the ball
“We brought 75 (players) on the trip and we played all of them. We got considerable reps and we got a lot of kids rested. I don’t know that we did too much experimenting on the offensive side. Defensively there was a little bit (of experimenting) at the end. Offensively it was more about getting guys reps and getting out of the game in a classy way and also to keep everybody healthy.”
On the importance of the defense getting a shutout after last week
“I think it was huge. I thought we needed some confidence there. Our confidence was shaken a little bit after last week and obviously we’re still young in a lot of spots. We’re fishing to get into a great stretch of football teams so we needed some confidence going in. I think anytime you can pitch a shutout at this level you got to gain some confidence from it.”
On how prepared he feels heading into SEC play
“Only time will tell that. I wish we would have played four great quarters of offensive football today, but we didn’t. We’ve struggled to do that somewhat, but you know when SEC play comes around we’re going to have to be more competitive.”
On playing on the road for the first time
“I think for us to show our young players what it’s like to be on the road with us, how we’re going to prepare on the road and how we treat it as a business trip (was important). I thought it was very good for us to do that. It was great to see all of Rebel Nation show up today. It certainly wasn’t a hostile environment like we’ll face next Saturday night. There will be some adjusting to that to with these young kids and even the ones that haven’t been in that atmosphere, like it will be. We’ll have some things we have to work on this week to handle that.”
On his thoughts on the secondary after this week
“I’m going to have to watch the film, but on the headsets I know (the coaches) were pretty pleased with the safeties and Charles (Sawyer) at cornerback was solid. We struggled a little bit at the field corner, they just weren’t understanding what the call was, where when you help and when you can be more aggressive…We have to continue to get better at all those places, but no doubt there was some improvement.”
DE C.J. JOHNSON
On the defensive performance this week
“We still had a couple of letdowns there in the fourth quarter, but we played pretty well.”
On if the front seven had a good day
“That was our goal the whole week, to get ten sacks. I don’t know if we got ten, but we got pretty close.”
On the defense’s feelings after Chief’s interception
“It was a sigh of relief, because the whole week all we’ve been talking about is getting that shutout. I’m sitting here thinking, ‘Alright, we’re winning, we got this, and now the whole defense is falling apart.’ Then we get to the goal line and Chief gets the pick. I don’t know, it was a sigh of relief. It was exciting.”
On carry over into next week versus Alabama
“Definitely confidence. Anytime you get a win you gain some confidence, especially with the state that we’ve been in the past two years. It’s great to get a win, but we just have to put our hard hats on and get prepared for Alabama next week.”
On the defense heading into the game versus Alabama
“We feel pretty confident. We can play with anybody in the country, the only thing about it is, when you’re playing college football, you can’t beat yourself and expect to win. That’s just the bottom line. If we do our assignments and what our coaches teach us to do, we can beat anybody.”
CB TRAE ELSTON
On his comfort with the play calling
“I think I did very well. These last three games I’ve been getting a few reps and I think I did very well.”
On the hardest part about the adjustment to the college game
“Just catching up to the speed of the game, but I think I did very well. What I mean is, just reacting to plays, learning the formations, you need to react very quickly, and I think I did very well adapting to that.”
On the defense and the team in terms of being ready for SEC play
“I think we’re ready. We just need to stay focused on the plays and our alignment assignment and we’ll be good.”
On the team’s confidence following last week’s big loss
“Our confidence is very high right now, you know I think we did ourselves in against Texas, it was mainly our alignment assignments, and if we pay attention to those little things, we’ll be good.”
On how hard was for him not be a part of the Texas game last week
“I just pushed on my teammates. It wasn’t that hard (for me). I mean, I was still there for my team so it was alright.”
CB CHARLES SAWYER
On how it felt for to be back at cornerback
“Good, it’s going to be a lot of fun. I can’t wait for the next game and every game after that.”
On getting a shutout
“The shutout was very important. This was a big part of what our coaches were talking about. They told us that we have to have a shutout. We had to have a shutout. That’s what they preach and that’s what we did.”
On handling the early lead
“Good. (Tulane) drove it down the field and we stopped them. It just seemed like everybody was on the same page.”
On if turnover and interceptions are infectious
“Absolutely. Anytime you win the turnover battle, you have a much better chance of winning the game. That’s what coach always tells us.”
On how the defense is going into SEC play with Alabama
“Good, we are getting better. Every day is a test for us and we just need to work together to get better every single day.”
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