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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Editor-to-Editor: Tulane comes to Boca to face FAU

The Tulane University’s The Tulane Hullabaloo’s Sports Editors Scott Houtkin, Benny Greenspan and the University Press sports editor discuss FAU’s regular season home finale against No. 17 Tulane.
FAU+junior+wide+receiver+LaJohntay+Wester+celebrating+catching+a+pass+for+a+first+down+during+the+Owls+22-7+loss+to+the+East+Carolina+Pirates+at+Howard+Schnellenberger+Field+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+11%2C+2023.
Jaden Wiston
FAU junior wide receiver LaJohntay Wester celebrating catching a pass for a first down during the Owls’ 22-7 loss to the East Carolina Pirates at Howard Schnellenberger Field on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023.

On Wednesday, the University Press spoke with Scott Houtkin and Benny Greenspan, sports editors of the Tulane Hullabaloo, to discuss FAU’s home finale against No. 17 Tulane University (9-1, 6-0 AAC).

FAU is coming off a 22-7 home loss to the East Carolina University Pirates (2-8, 1-5 AAC). FAU redshirt junior quarterback Michael Johnson Jr. scored the Owls’ only touchdown, while junior wide receiver LaJohntay Wester, who previously had back-to-back career highs, caught six receptions for 38 yards. 

Tulane is coming off a 24-22 home victory against the University of Tulsa.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Who is the biggest threat on offense and defense?

Houtkin: Tulane’s biggest threat on offense is running back Makhi Hughes. However, I think a player FAU also needs to plan for is [sophomore] tight end Alex Bauman. Bauman is a large target at 6’5” and 245 pounds, creating matchup problems in the red zone. He has become [junior quarterback Michael] Pratt’s favorite target near the end zone, as Bauman has scored five touchdowns in Tulane’s last six games.

On the defensive side of the ball, FAU needs to prepare for [senior] cornerback Jarius Monroe. Monroe was an American Athletic Conference First-Team selection a year ago and has become one of the premier shutdown corners in college football. He can take away an entire side of the field, and his two interceptions this season along with five passes defended, showcase his elite ball skills.

Greenspan: Makhi Hughes, this is a guy who started as our 4th string running back and cemented himself as a number one option, averaging 5.4 yards per carry so far this season. Receiving wise, we have a triple threat with [redshirt senior] Lawrence Keys, [senior] Jha’Quan Jackson and [redshirt freshman] Chris Brazzell II, who are all over 20 receptions and 400 yards on the year. 

What would the Owls need to do to stop Makhi Hughes and Michael Pratt?

Houtkin: FAU needs to be able to apply pressure to Pratt without blitzing. Tulane has a veteran offensive line, but if FAU wants to slow down the Wave’s offense, they will have to apply pressure to Pratt. If FAU can throw off the rhythm of the Tulane offense, they can cause Pratt to make unforced errors. Hughes has been fantastic this season, but if FAU can slow down the passing attack, Tulane can become more one-dimensional.

Greenspan: Definitely apply pressure on Pratt while also limiting his scrambling ability. If Pratt is contained, similar to what Scott said, then Tulane becomes one-dimensional, which is good for the Owls. 

Tulane is 2nd in the AAC in scoring defense. What would FAU need to do to get points on the board against the Tulane defense?

Houtkin: Win the field position, turnover, and time of possession battles. Tulane is great at applying pressure to the opposing quarterback and forcing them to go to their second and third reads. If FAU can keep the ball out of the Tulane offense’s hands and capitalize off of great field position, they have a chance to put up enough points to compete.

Greenspan: Tulane has been a streaky team so far, so they are just capitalizing on the parts of their game where Tulane slows down a bit and capitalizing when momentum shifts in their favor. 

The past four games for Tulane have been by one score. What has caused that?

Houtkin: Tulane has a bad habit of sleeping for one half. They either start slow or finish slow, but always wake up towards the end and put the game away when it matters most. Their ability to finish games results from their veteran leadership and winning culture head coach Willie Fritz has built. However, Tulane often plays down to their competition and trusts their defense, causing reserved play-calling when they have a lead.

Greenspan: Inconsistency, simply put. In some games, we get off to hot starts and then cool off, such as against Rice. Others we start slow and rally, such as against ECU. I can’t say we have played two back-to-back great halves of football since the Nicholls win.

Tulane is on an eight game win streak and is 4-0 on the road. What has gone right for Tulane during that stretch?

Houtkin: Tulane hasn’t panicked down the stretch in close games. While many programs’ confidence may waver after losing a lead in crunch time, Tulane can maintain its composure and finish strong. Their veteran leadership and excellent coaching have allowed them to maintain consistency on the road and have demonstrated excellent depth when injuries have occurred.

Greenspan: Making winning plays when it counts,the experience of this team and Fritz’s coaching shows up when it needs to, which is why we keep winning even without playing our best.

Tulane has played a couple of newcomers to the AAC. How have the new conference opponents panned out for the Green Wave? Has it been easier than you guys thought or more difficult?

Houtkin: The new members to the AAC have given the Wave a run for their money in each outing, showing the talent of each of those programs. UAB played Tulane well, North Texas almost took the Wave down after a huge second-half comeback, and our matchup with Rice was a nail-biter. The newcomers have all been much more difficult than anticipated, and the new coaches and schemes to the AAC have posed a problem for the Wave, as there is a clear lack of familiarity. These close encounters have proven that none of the newcomers can be overlooked, so I expect Tulane to come out strong against FAU this weekend.

Greenspan: While we have won all the games against these new teams, they have been narrow wins. That is more due to us not playing at our best than them since we tend to let teams back into the game even when it starts to reach. 

What do you think the outcome of the game would be?

Houtkin: I think that Tulane will make a statement this weekend. They have looked a little shaky in recent weeks and will look to make a statement in Boca Raton. Pratt is a Boca native, so this will be a homecoming game for him. There’s added motivation for him to perform. In addition, there seems to be skepticism from the College Football Playoff (CFP) committee due to Tulane’s recent struggles, so a big win over FAU would help put some of those doubts to bed.

Greenspan: I think Tulane wins narrowly, even though I think if they want to prove themselves and move up in the CFP, they need to win this game by double digits.

Maddox Greenberg is the Sports Editor for the University Press. Email [email protected] or DM via Twitter @MaddoxGreenberg and Instagram @maddoxblade04 for information regarding this or other stories

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About the Contributor
Maddox Greenberg, Sports Editor
Maddox started writing sports for the UP in Summer 2022 with the intention of improving his journalistic writing. He is a sophomore majoring in multimedia journalism and plans on becoming a sports broadcaster. He is a broadcaster for FAU Owl Radio.

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