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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Football

Cougars back in action against Tulane following bye week


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The banged-up Cougars received a week away from game action before heading into the last three regular season games of the year. | File photo/The Cougar

The Cougars are coming off of their bye week and are well-rested for their matchup on Saturday against the Tulane University Green Wave.

The Green Wave are limping away from a 37-6 blowout loss to the University of Central Florida Golden Knights. Tulane has underperformed this season, going 3-6 overall 0-5 in the American Athletic Conference. Their hopes of a conference championship are all but over.

Although this team hasn’t played that well this season, their offensive scheme is one that could cause problems.

“Their offense is very unique,” said head coach Tom Herman in his weekly press conference. “It will be a unique test for our defense.”

The particular offense that Herman metioned is the Green Wave’s triple-option. It is similar to the triple-option the Cougars saw in the United States Naval Academy game, but it hasn’t been run as successfully.

Tulane’s offense ranks 110th in the NCAA and is averaging about 355 yards per game.

The offensive player to watch on the Green Wave is junior running back Dontrell Hilliard.

While Hilliard hasn’t done much in the receiving game, totaling just 8 receptions for 99 yards on the season, he’s been effective running the ball. He has 724 rushing yards and has added 9 touchdowns.

He is averaging six yards per carry.

The Green Wave possesses the 27th-best team defense in the nation, and the defensive player to watch is senior linebacker Nico Marley.

Marley leads the team in tackles, is tied for the team lead in sacks and fumbles forced and he even has an interception to his credit.

Players like Marley are tough to game plan against because they’re so versatile and can do so many things well. Expect to hear Marley’s name called a few times Saturday.

Teams like the Green Wave can be dangerous to the Cougars in that they have nothing to play for and will most likely play more aggressively to spoil Houston’s hopes of a conference championship.

It will be interesting to see if the Cougars play like they did at the beginning of the season now that they’ve had a week to rest, or if there will be rust from not playing a football game for two weeks.

“Our guys are as healthy and as fresh as we’ve been in a long, long time,” Herman said. “I like where we’re at.”

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