New Orleans -- Week two presents a big challenge for Tulane's football team, as they travel to take-on SEC power, Auburn. This is the first road game for the Green Wave this season and they know they'll have their hands full against the Tigers in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"We've got a real big one this week against Auburn," said Tulane Head Football Coach Willie Fritz. "They've got all 4 and 5 star players that they've recruited over the years. Coach Malzahn and his staff do a super job coaching those guys. I've been a big fan of his. He's kind of come-up the same way as me-- former high school coach and made his way up from a coordinator and done a super, super job there at Auburn so this will be a tremendous challenge for us Saturday evening."
Tulane starting quarterback Justin McMillan, who transferred from LSU, knows all about the level of play in the SEC, but is also confident that his team is up for the task and won't be intimidated by playing on the road against a Power 5 program.
"I feel like this team is going to take it just as normal as the next game," McMillan said. "It's a big game of course. To me, every game is big so I can't really say this game is being treated any different than the next one would. But like I said, we've got to practice every day. We're going to practice every day no matter what the opponent is. It's a faceless opponent to us but we've got to work hard practicing and execute."
In Tulane's opener against FIU last Thursday, the Green Wave excelled in nearly every statistical category on the way to a 42-14 win. One area they needed to work on though was penalties. They had 12 penalties for 103 yards, which Fritz said after the game was "12 too many."
"The big ones that we try to eliminate are the pre-snap and post-play penalties," Fritz said. "Those are the ones anybody in the crowd can call. Most teams are about 50-50. The best teams that I've had have been in the high 20s for pre-snap penalties. When you do that, you're a pretty disciplined team. When you have 50% of them though that's showing that you have a lack of discipline so we've got to eliminate those."
"I feel like those were first game jitters," McMillan said. "People were excited to play. It's just how football is. I've been watching football this past weekend and I've noticed the first games of everybody it's been a lot of penalties. You learn to take it as the first game comes and we go to film and we go to correct it. I can say we're going to have more corrections and we've been working on it a lot more and the first game jitters are out of the way so we should be better and smoother."
The anticipated crowd noise at Auburn could pose a problem in that regard but McMillan is putting a lot of that on his shoulders to make sure his offensive unit is disciplined despite the hostile environment.
"We are prepared," McMillan said. "I feel like as the quarterback, making sure the offense for the most part can hear and understand and everything is running smoothly-- I feel like I can put that on myself to make things better but you know at the end of the day there's still excitement in the game and it can happen. We've just got to move-on from it if it does."