New Orleans -- Tulane rolled to a 1-0 start to the season with a 42-14 win over Florida International University Thursday night at Yulman Stadium. The Green Wave got their first chance to show-off their new offense under first year Offensive Coordinator Will Hall, and it went fairly smooth-- to the tune of 545 yards of total offense and 6 touchdowns.
"Will [Hall] did a great job calling plays," said Tulane Head Coach Willie Fritz. "I thought our offensive coaches were in sync. It's good for all of us to get this game under our belts to see how it really happens in a game."
Tulane quarterback Justin McMillan had an outstanding performance, accounting for 250 total yards of offense (199 passing on 14-18 attempts plus 51 rushing on 9 carries) and 3 total touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing) in the three quarters he played.
"I feel really comfortable going out on this field with this with the team we have right now," McMillan said. "All respect to FIU. They're a great team. They're going to be a really great team in the future. They're going to have a good season coming up. I can say this Tulane team here is going to do the same thing. I feel like we have a lot of talent and a lot of youth and we're going to make plays on the field."
The Green Wave defense did their part too-- holding the Panthers to just 59 yards rushing in the game and 267 total yards of offense. They got after FIU quarterback James Morgan for 3 sacks, and caused two turnovers (one interception, one fumble recovery). With the large lead their offense secured early, the defense was able to make FIU one dimensional and shut them down.
"Honestly, when you've got the offense out there scoring a bunch of points, they start switching-up their offense for them to have to throw it a lot more," said Tulane defensive lineman Patrick Johnson. "I feel like that's when we really get after the quarterback and that's when our defense really shines. So I've really got to give props to the offense. They did an amazing job tonight."
Going back to McMillan's performance, what made that all even more impressive, is that he was playing with a heavy heart. His grandfather passed away no more than 24 hours before their game.
"This game was probably, with ease, probably the most important game of my life," McMillan said. "That situation happened and he was on his way to the game. Me and my family talked about it and you can't take it back. It's the way of life. Everybody has to die one day but God bless his soul and I played this game for him."
"I'm really proud of Justin," Fritz said. "He fought through a lot of adversity. His grandpa passed away last night getting ready to come to the game. He handled that as well as you could possibly handle it. The guys rallied around him and he played an excellent football game. I just want to extend our well wishes to the McMillan family going through this tough time right now."
Also of note, the Green Wave had a group of special guests on the sideline, as Pelicans rookies Zion Williamson, Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker were all in attendance. They were over by the student section for most of the first half and interacted with the fans, taking pictures with many of them.