“Throughout the week I was just walking around like ‘this is a win or go home situation.’ We gotta play like we win or go home. We were saying, ‘this tells the whole season right here, this game right here, if we lose, we know what the season’s gonna be like. If we win, we know what the season’s gonna be like.’”
Well, now maybe we know what this season is going to be like for Tulane.
That was junior wide receiver Darnell Mooney after the game, on the importance of a win for the team, and oh what a win it was.
As recently as opening kickoff, if I told you that this game was going to end 40-24, you would have said “that’s good, I’m glad Memphis could handle their business against an underperforming Tulane team.”
Yet here we are, suddenly the Tigers are 0-2 in the AAC already and Tulane is now riding high after a dominant home win. Tulane dominated in the trenches on both sides of the ball, outrushing Memphis by a 318-31 margin and recording seven sacks on the night.
Need a stat that tells the tale of this game succinctly? Because I’ve got a bunch of them.
Memphis running back Darrell Henderson took a handoff on Memphis’ first play from scrimmage and cracked off a 47-yard touchdown run. The entire rest of the game, Henderson had six carries for four yards.
Henderson also caught a 43-yard touchdown pass – but only one other pass for four yards (on the same drive) the entire game.
Tulane’s tailback trio – Corey Dauphine, Darius Bradwell, and Stephon Huderson – carried the ball 39 times for 288 yards and four touchdowns, with three of those touchdowns coming on runs of 25+ yards.
Jonathan Banks struggled to find chemistry with his receivers, due to a mix of dropped passes and poor throws, and while Justin McMillan only threw one pass and benefitted from a good run by Mooney, the offense definitely seemed to come alive with him in the game, scoring three touchdowns in three drives.
Memphis struggled mightily on offense. After Henderson’s touchdown on the first play of the game, the Tigers only produced three more first downs the entire first half – two on big pass plays – and didn’t set foot inside the Tulane 40-yard line until their touchdown drive to open the second half.
It was a perfect storm by the fourth quarter. Brady White hadn’t found any rhythm with his receivers, because he hadn’t been on the field a lot, and when he was, he was spending a lot of time scrambling. He’s just not yet a good enough QB to succeed behind a sieve of an o-line.
Tulane recorded six of their seven sacks in the second half, and the first of those came with Tulane leading 17-14 and initiated a stretch that saw Memphis not penetrate the Tulane 40-yard line again until the last 7 minutes of the game after the score was out of hand.
“(This was a c)omplete and total team win, the defense played extremely well,” head coach Willie Fritz said. “That’s a tough team to hold under 300 yards, I’d be interested to see the last time they had under 300 yards total offense.”
Tulane actually achieved a number of streak-busters in this game, including:
- Their first win over Memphis since Nov. 18, 2000
- Memphis’ first loss on a weeknight since Oct 30, 2013 against Cincinnati
- Tulane became the first team to commit zero turnovers against Memphis since USF on Nov 12, 2016
- Tulane was the first team to hold Memphis under 300 yards of total offense since the Tigers played Auburn in 2015.
These are all great things to build on. The Angry Wave will hit the road next week to take on a Cincinnati team that is definitely more beatable today than they were yesterday.
Memphis, meanwhile, will be licking their wounds next week against UConn and will need to get things straight soon because UCF comes to town the following week.