Green Wave run offense poses threat for Rutgers
When the Rutgers football team was set to play Navy last weekend, it was dealing with the top rushing team in the nation, which carried the ball more than any other program and ran for 40 yards more than the next closest team.
The Scarlet Knights were able to slow down Navy’s run game and force the Midshipmen to pass the ball more than they had all season. Rutgers ultimately outrushed Navy, holding it to nearly half of its season average.
When Rutgers (3-1) plays Tulane (1-3) Saturday at noon, it will be much of the same. The Knights will be tasked with having to slow down an elite running attack, as the Green Wave average 175.8 yards per game and come off a game where they ran for 240 yards against Duke.
Tulane’s impressive run game is something Rutgers already noticed after its first day of watching film Monday.
“Tulane runs the ball exceptionally well. They’ve played two Big Five Conference teams in Georgia Tech and Duke, which are two good football teams,” said head coach Kyle Flood. “They still average 175 yards per game despite that. That’s a challenge.”
The Green Wave’s only win so far this season came against FCS opponent Southeastern Louisiana. When Tulane played more competitive teams, they forfeited over 38 points to Tulsa, Georgia Tech and Duke.
Running backs Sherman Badie and Lazedrick Thompson anchor Tulane’s rushing attack. Both backs account for 93 of the team’s total carries.
Badie has rushed for 349 yards this season on 7.3 yards per carry. Thompson has carried the ball for 194 yards and averages 4.3 yards per carry.
Senior defensive lineman Dave Milewski said these two running backs are not to be overlooked. A rushing attack that gained over 200 yards against the Blue Devils also is to be noted, Milewski said.
“They are a great team, and they have great skill players. Their offensive line is really big, too,” Milewski said. “We’re hoping we get to defend them as well as we can and stop the things they do well. They rushed for over 240 yards against Duke, which is a good team. They have a lot of talent, and they are very well-coached.”
While Tulane’s offense has impressed Rutgers’ staff and players, a defense with 10 forces fumbles this season could cause trouble for the Knights.
Rutgers’ offense has turned the ball over 11 times in four games is not necessarily efficient, and senior quarterback Gary Nova has thrown five interceptions at home this season.
Senior fullback Michael Burton said Tulane’s defense can pose some challenges, specifically the athleticism and skill set it has to offer.
“The Tulane defense is very well-coached. They are very athletic, too,” Burton said. “The big thing I notice is their speed. They have great team speed and defensive speed. They do different things to confuse offenses, so we have to be on our game.”
But ultimately, the Green Wave boasts a young and less-experienced team than the Knights.
A good example of its inexperience and youth shows in its penalty yards per game. Tulane commits an average of 93 penalty yards per game.
“They are young at certain positions, so we understand some of the reasons they have come up short in some of the games are that they made mistakes themselves,” Milewski said. “It wasn’t because the other team was much better than them. We have to make sure we are executing our details.”
For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @TylerKaralewich and @TargumSports on Twitter.