November 3, 2012
Commentary: horrible start, strange finish doom Tulane
Recalling several Homecoming nightmares in the past, Tulane fumbled a kickoff, messed up two shotgun snaps, fumbled after a reception and muffed a punt against Rice, all in the first quarter on Saturday.
Unlike in the past, the Green Wave didn't curl into the fetal position after that calamitous stretch. New coach Curtis Johnson's team is mentally tougher than any of predecessor Bob Toledo's groups.
Ultimately, though, the result was the same - a crushing loss that killed the momentum from a big win the previous week and ended any chance of a bowl bid.
All credit to Tulane (2-7, 2-3 Conference USA) for coming back and actually taking the lead, 38-35, in the third quarter. The Wave just couldn't quite overcome its stunning array of blunders in the first 15 minutes, falling 49-47 to Rice (4-6, 2-4) while failing to win two Conference USA games in a row for the first time since 2007.
There is no rational explanation for what happened at the start, and not a very good one for what happened at the end.
Needing a 2-point conversion to tie the score at 49 with 56 seconds left, the Wave went away from what they had done while ripping through Rice for 37 second-half points in another record-setting Ryan Griffin performance (476 yards passing). After back-to-back Owls timeouts, Tulane lined up with two wide receivers and two tight ends -a departure from anything it had done earlier --for a play it had worked on all week in practice.
As Johnson and Griffin explained it, true freshman running back Josh Rounds and true freshman tight end Sydie London were the first two progressions on the play. When they weren't open, Griffin looked for Ryan Grant, who was running across the back of the end zone.
The design might have been excellent, but it defied the flow of the game. Rounds had three catches for 37 yards but has dropped a few passes this year. London had not been a target all day.
Xavier Rush, who had caught a 62-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter and has been white hot the past two weeks, watched from the sideline.
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