Video: Curtis Johnson's Weekly Press Luncheon; 1-on-1 with RB Orleans Darkwa
It's not even October yet, and Tulane could be starting its third different quarterback of 2012 on Saturday when ULM visits the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Senior D.J. Ponder, who returned to the team midway through preseason camp last month, is going to "definitely play" on Saturday against the Warhawks, Green Wave coach Curtis Johnson said at his weekly news conference on Tuesday. And, he added, "(Ponder) may be the starter."
Last week's starter, freshman Devin Powell of O.P. Walker, has an injured big toe and spent Tuesday morning's practice in a walking boot. Senior incumbent Ryan Griffin remains sidelined with a shoulder injury, and Johnson said he "didn't do very much" in practice on Tuesday.
Ponder, a two-sport athlete at Tulane who signed a professional baseball contract earlier this year with Evansville Otters of the independent Frontier League, would be making his first career start. In 21 career games, he has completed 26 of 62 passes for 266 yards. Nearly half of those attempts and yards came in a relief effort against UTEP last year.
"Ponder is a blessing to us," Johnson said. "Not only is he back, but he's a veteran guy."
Ponder may be handing off to another player seeing his first action of the season - junior running back Orleans Darkwa, who has missed more than a month with a high ankle sprain.
"I think Orleans will be back this week," Johnson said.
Darkwa, who has rushed for 1,849 yards and 24 touchdowns in a Tulane uniform, would be a huge boost to the Green Wave offense. Tulane ranks last among 120 FBS schools in rushing offense (9.67 yards per game), total offense (199.33) and scoring offense (7.33).
While its offense has struggled, Tulane (0-3) will also face a stiff challenge on defense from a ULM team that has defeated Arkansas, taken Auburn to overtime and lost a shootout to Baylor in its most recent game.
"This quarterback (ULM's Kolton Browning) is something else," Johnson said. "He makes their ship go. They should have won all those games."
Johnson did not have much to say regarding suspended linebacker Trent Mackey, who reportedly was arrested for a second time Monday night on burglary charges.
"I just heard about it," Johnson told sportsNOLA.com. "I hope it's not true."
Kickoff for Saturday's game, which is only the third-ever meeting between Tulane and ULM, is at 2:30 p.m. CST will televise the game live.
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