NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Tulane is set to finish their season Friday, hosting Tulsa for senior night. Sitting at 3-8 after a loss to lowly SMU Saturday, the Green Wave will not reach a bowl game but head coach Curtis Johnson hopes to finish the season on a high-note heading into the offseason.
The fourth-year coach spoke with members of the media Tuesday and the following is the text from that session, as transcribed by Tulane Sports Information:
"Last Saturday night was probably one of the most disappointing overall games that I have been around, especially in these last few years. I thought our team was very much ready to play early on, but we couldn't get anything going offensively. Our defense was playing outstanding. We had them backed up. All of sudden, we had a field goal blocked and was returned for a touchdown. At that point, I still felt good about the game, but after that, it kind of let the wind out of our sails.
Our defense didn't attack them well from then on, and we didn't play like we've been playing. Offensively, we had a little bit of ball movement early, but we weren't able to run it like we wanted to against this team.
My hat goes off to those guys (SMU). Those seniors; this was their last game, and they had the rally cry going. SMU head coach Chad [Morris] talked to me before the game and told me that his team would have to play really well tonight. They played really well. They probably had their best game overall this season, and unfortunately, we probably played our worst. When that happens, you don't play well. Kids, coaches, players, and fans have to understand that you can't play like that, ever."
On Jordy [Joseph] starting this week and his backup this week
"Jordy's going to get the start this week. I think Glenn [Cuiellette] will be out there as well so we can see what he can do, and Devin [Powell] will be out there as well."
On Glenn playing this week
"Right now, we are planning on playing him no matter what. It's time to see what Glenn can do."
On extent of Lee's injury
"It's his other finger. He has two broken fingers."
On Senior Day and emotional day for him and seniors
"Most of these seniors, I came in with. I didn't come in with [Corey] Redwine and a couple others. Darion Monroe is the headliner of this year's class. He's the one guy that just embodies Tulane football. Looking at what he does, how he handles himself, it's incredible, so you want to send him out strong.
Royce LaFrance is another guy who came in, and some of these seniors since have been with me throughout my entire time here. I really want to send these guys off right. My whole cry this week has been to send these guys out on a win; send these guys out on a great game, a great win. They mean so much to me. Every meeting, every spring practice, in the weight room, I see these guys working hard and doing the right thing, and they just mean so much to me."
On Darion Monroe's impact to Tulane program
"He's a consummate player and a pro player. His leadership is outstanding, both on and off the field. He makes sure guys are going to class and is on guys about the meal room and stuff like that. On the field, he's a coach for the defense. He could come in right now and be one great football coach. I think one thing he did this year is he changed his body. He's gotten faster, he's more athletic, and I think he gave himself a great opportunity to play hard."
On Darion Monroe playing at the next level
"He has a great chance of playing at the next level. He's smart enough. He reminds me of a guy who played for many years in the league named Ryan Clark. He's a very smart guy, very physical and can do a lot of everything."
On how the defense can stop Tulsa's passing offense
"Our front four has to come out and play like they are supposed to. Our coverage has been pretty decent. With Parry [Nickerson] out there, he's picked his game up a lot, but we have to back him up more. We are going to have our back-ups in there this week if Richard Allen isn't playing, so we just have to continue to play both man and zone, and just keep mixing the coverages in."
On his future with the program and his progress so far
"Whenever they hire a new athletic director, I will meet with them. I will probably meet with Rick [Dickson] sometime next week. I think we did make some progress, but it's just unfortunate that the type of league we've been in has been very tough. I have 18 starters that are coming back next year and we didn't play as well as we wanted to, but I like some parts of this team. I like these running backs that are coming back. I like what Tanner [Lee] has done in his improvement. We've got to spruce up this offensive line.
Most of our defensive line is coming back, with Tanzel [Smart] and those guys. I like the linebackers and what they are doing. I like Parry Nickerson as well as a lot of our younger guys. There's a lot to be proud of this year. We found a kicker, and we found a punter. We have a lot of things moving in the right direction. It's just unfortunate that we ran into one of these seasons where we just couldn't get things going and we played against some really good football teams."
On evaluating the offense and what he's looking for
"You have to evaluate all of it. We didn't do very well on offense the last couple of years. Last year, we played a lot of freshmen, so you can attribute some of our errors to that, but as sophomores, we should play better. I have to look at the schematic, what we are doing, and all the facets of it, what we are coaching, who we are coaching, and how we are coaching them. The offense is definitely going to be very scrutinized this offseason."
On the offensive line's future
"The offensive line definitely has to play better. We've got to upgrade that. We have some young kids on a team that is very athletic, and we need to see what they can do. I'm hoping that we may get some help from a transfer somewhere, which hasn't happened, but I just hope that that can happen also."