Tale of the Tape: Tulane’s comeback against Oklahoma bodes well for the rest of the season

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NORMAN, OK – SEPTEMBER 4: Quarterback Michael Pratt #7 of the Tulane Green Wave gets enveloped by defenders Kelvin Gilliam #44, Danny Stutsman #28, and Reggie Grimes #14 of the Oklahoma Sooners in the third quarter at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 4, 2021 in Norman, Oklahoma. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — It was the middle of the third quarter, with Oklahoma holding a 37-14, playing a 4th and 1 at their own 46.

That’s when linebacker Kevin Henry made a play that changed the game. Henry crashed from the left edge, penetrating and forcing the running back Kennedy Brooks wide, where he was tackled for a loss.

From then, it was a different game. Tulane fell 40-35 to Oklahoma, but we learned several things that will serve the Green Wave well throughout the 2021 season.

No one can question the toughness of quarterback Michael Pratt. Pratt was getting accolades throughout the second half of Saturday’s game, including one from former LSU Tiger Tyrann Mathieu.

Pratt rebounded from three second quarter fumbles, to lead his team to an impressive comeback.

Pratt threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for a score. But, his leadership skills, and that toughness, bouncing back from a hit that knocked his helmet off and bloodied his forehead was impressive.

Here’s what else we learned from the Green Wave.

Offensive coordinator Chip Long’s offense is a dream for a tight end. Of Pratt’s 27 completions, 9 went to Tyrick James and Will Wallace. The ability for both tight ends to catch and run, and their ability as blockers make the Green Wave extremely hard to defend. In the game, Oklahoma played off the Tulane tight ends, and they were open on several occasions.

James looks like a tight end who can play in the National Football League. He has size, good hands, the ability to make yards after the catch, and he can block. If James wants to know what greatness in a Tulane uniform looks like, he should watch tape of former Tulane tight end Rodney Holman. Holman played 14 seasons in the NFL, catching 365 passes, 36 for touchdowns. He averaged an astounding 13.1 yards per reception.

In my 58 years of watching Tulane football, he is the best player to ever wear the uniform.

Those tight ends and a talented offensive line, led Tulane to 396 total yards, and an average of 5.1 yards per play against perhaps the toughest defense they will see all season.

Against spread teams that want as many possessions as possible in games, Tulane’s ability to run the football will be something that is critical to its success this season.

When Tulane signed Macon Clark from Destrehan, it was obvious the Wave was getting a very good player. Clark had an interception, and a big pass breakup near the goal line. His hit, led to a missed field goal attempt by Oklahoma.

After major knee surgery, it will take running back Tyjae Spears time to get back to 100 percent. But, when Spears finds his stride, he and fellow running back Cam Carroll, Michael Pratt, and a talented offensive line and tight ends will be tough to handle.

To Tulane’s upcoming opponents, Saturday’s comeback was no gift.

Tulane climbed back into the game with a physical brand of football. Yes, Oklahoma may have taken its foot off the gas in the second half, and it almost cost them the game.

The only negatives for Tulane Saturday were the turnovers, a handful of dropped passes, and those power blue uniforms.

Tulane’s primary color is green. Power blue belongs to North Carolina.

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