Coming off a tough overtime loss to Rutgers, the Orange head down to the Big Easy to face a Tulane squad in turmoil. The last two weeks have both resulted in 20+ point losses for Bob Toledo’s squad, and a rash of injuries have left them thin at wide receiver.
“Right now, we’re playing two walk-ons, Carlos Wilson and Jacob Davis,” Toledo said. “We’ve lost a bunch of guys who are hurt. We don’t have a lot of depth at that (wide receiver) position.”
Ryan Grant, the team’s second-leading receiver from last year with 515 yards and 4 scores and a Biletnikoff watchlist honoree for 2011, was lost to a sports hernia in the opener. Promising freshman Brandon LeBeau sustained a concussion in week 4 against Duke.
Only three players on the roster have double-digit receptions on the season, and one of those players is starting running back Orleans Darkwa.
The injuries have placed added pressure on quarterback Ryan Griffin to carry the offense. He’s had to put in extra time with the freshman in order to get on the same page.
“He wants to win so badly that he may be pressing a little bit. He wants to do everything himself,” Toledo said. “He wants to make all the plays right now. He’s got to play within the system.”
This game is a bit of a homecoming for Doug Marrone, a former assistant for the New Orleans Saints in the NFL.
“Coach Toledo and I lived in the same neighborhood,” Marrone said. “Early on when Coach Toledo got there, I went to practice. I wish I would have studied it more than just going down and watching them.”
The Orange could benefit from the returns of safeties Shamarko Thomas and Olando Fisher, but the loss of backup running back Prince-Tyson Gulley looks to force a number of inexperienced players into action.
“We’re going to play those players because if, God forbid, something happens to Antwon (Bailey), now everything is increased. As coaches, we always want to be ready in developing the players behind him,” said Marrone. “You don’t want to change your demeanor all of a sudden with an injury. You want to be the same way all the way through, so for us we have to get those players involved in the system and you’ll see all of those players involved in the game plan.”