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Today at No. 108: TULANE Coach: Curtis Johnson (12-25, entering fourth season; 12-25 overall) 2014 record: 3-9 overall, 2-6 American Athletic Conference; tied for...

lsu picksToday at No. 108: TULANE

Coach: Curtis Johnson (12-25, entering fourth season; 12-25 overall)

2014 record: 3-9 overall, 2-6 American Athletic Conference; tied for eighth in AAC

Look back: After Tulane recorded seven wins in 2013, the school’s most victories since 2002, the program took a step back last season. The Green Wave struggled to handle the shift from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference, managing just three wins. The offense had difficulty finding its footing, tying for No. 123 nationally out of 125 NCAA recognized teams in red-zone offense.

Tulane’s three wins were against Football Championship Subdivision Southeastern Louisiana and struggling FBS programs UConn and Houston.

Offensive starters returning: 8

Offensive starters lost: 3

Defensive starters returning: 7

Defensive starters lost: 4

Key losses: OT Sean Donnelly, WR Justyn Shackleford, RB Dante Butler, TE Matt Marfisi, DE Tyler Gilbert, DB Taurean Nixon, DB Lorenzo Doss, DB Sam Scofield

Top returnees: OT Arturo Uzdavinis, C Nathan Shienle, OG Colton Hanson, OG Chris Taylor, QB Tanner Lee, WR Teddy Veal, RB Sherman Badie, DT Tanzel Smart, DE Royce LaFrance, LB Nico Marley, CB Parry Nickerson, S Darion Monroe, DS Michael Lizanich, P Peter Picerelli

Strengths: While Tulane’s offense sputtered the closer it got to the end zone, the Green Wave’s defense showed remarkable strength in the same territory and ranked No. 2 nationally in red-zone defense.

Quarterback Tanner Lee is slated to the lead the Green Wave offense. He was 10-of-20 passing for 41 yards and 3-yard touchdown during the spring game. The numbers aren’t flashy, but coach Curtis Johnson has high hopes for the quarterback.

“He will win a lot of games. So far, so good. I like what he did today,” Johnson told Nola.com when asked about Lee’s performance.

Receiver Teddy Veal and running back Sherman Badie could be a potential strong playmakers if Lee can get them the ball in space.

Weaknesses: Tulane returns most of its starters from last season, but the Green Wave will have to offset the loss of some experienced members of the secondary following the departure of Taurean Nixon, Lorenzo Doss and Sam Scofield

While Lee should learn from mistakes he made last season, his turnover numbers were troubling.

He accounted for more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (12). Five of those picks were returned for touchdowns.

Outlook: Johnson is a New Orleans native who has aggressively recruited local athletes with the hope of bolstering the program, he still faces challenges leading the Green Wave to a bowl bid in 2015. Nonconference opponents Duke, Georgia Tech and Navy are all consistent winners, while UCF, Memphis and Temple are expected to be challenging American Athletic Conference foes. It leaves Tulane little room for error as the program pushes to improve.

2015 SCHEDULE

Sept. 3 Duke

Sept. 12 at Georgia Tech

Sept. 19 Maine

Oct. 3 UCF

Oct. 10 at Temple

Oct. 16 vs. Houston

Oct. 24 at Navy

Oct. 31 at Memphis

Nov. 7 UConn

Nov. 14 at Army

Nov. 21 at SMU

Nov. 28 Tulsa

Vincent Rizzo

College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com

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