Sneak peek: Tulane
AUBURN | Auburn’s 2019 football schedule begins with a big non-conference matchup, includes a long road trip in September and three more in October, and ends with two huge rivalry games at home.
Today, we continue an early look at each opponent with the home opener against a former SEC school.
WHO: Tulane (7-6 last season, 5-3 AAC West)
WHEN: Sept. 7, 6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2
WHERE: Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)
SERIES: Tulane leads 17-14-6
WHAT’S NEW: Memphis tight ends coach Will Hall was hired as Tulane’s offensive coordinator in December. He has experience ranging from the triple option to spread passing attacks and should bring a multiple look to Tulane’s offense behind a dual-threat quarterback. The Green Wave also added Cody Kennedy as offensive line coach. He was a graduate assistant at Georgia last season.
WHO TO WATCH, OFFENSE: LSU graduate transfer Justin McMillan returns as the starting quarterback. He took over the final six games of last season, completing 79 of 154 passes (51.3 percent) for 1,304 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. He rushed for 238 yards and five touchdowns on 59 carries.
WHO TO WATCH, DEFENSE: Defensive end Patrick Johnson led the team with 16.0 tackles-for-loss and 10.5 sacks, tying for the most sacks by a sophomore nationally. Johnson also forced four fumbles.
OUTLOOK: Auburn and Tulane have played just once since 1955, a 38-13 AU win in 2006. The Green Wave haven’t beaten a Power 5 school since 2010, but have enough playmakers to give a team like Auburn fits if they're not taken seriously.
The offense should be one of the best in the AAC this season with McMillan returning along with a talented group of playmakers. Leading rusher Darius Bradwell and his backup Corey Dauphine return. The pair combined for 1,976 yards and 18 touchdowns last season.
Leading receiver Darnell Mooney also returns and the Green Wave added Oklahoma State grad transfer Jalen McCleskey, who had 1,865 career receiving yards and 18 touchdowns for the Cowboys. The offensive line returns three starters that have combined for 91 starts.
With eight starters back, Tulane’s defense should also be improved in 2019. Johnson will move from defensive end to Joker this season, a position similar to Auburn’s Buck. TU returns three other defensive linemen with starting experience including noseguard Jeffery Johnson, a former Alabama commitment.
TU must replace its leading tackler from last season but does return two linebackers with a combined 12 starts. TU operates primarily out of a 3-3-5. The top returning defensive back is senior cornerback Thakarius Keyes, who had 11 pass breakups and one interception last fall.
AUBURN CONNECTION: No direct connection but the Green Wave have seven players from the state of Alabama on their roster including Mooney, who caught 48 passes for 993 yards and eight touchdowns last season.
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