Football

Q&A with Green Wave beat writer David Holden of the Tulane Hullabaloo

Syracuse hosts Tulane on Saturday, in search of its second straight home win. The Daily Orange spoke with David Holden, a beat writer for The Tulane Hullabaloo, about Green Wave (2-1) celebrities Nick Montana and Nico Marley, as well as how Tulane’s offensive scheme matches up with the Orange (1-2).

The Daily Orange: How has Nick Montana handled the role of starting quarterback on and off the field?

David Holden: He seems to be improving each game. His first game looked a little skittish, but his last two games have looked much better. He’s beginning to develop a really good rapport with Ryan Grant, and he looks really good throwing the deep ball. As for his personality, even though he’s only been here maybe half a semester, he’s already a pretty vocal leader on the team. I talked to a few of the players Wednesday and they were saying that he’s definitely the most vocal on the offense and he’s definitely leading the huddle and he’s got a pretty good command of what’s going on on the offensive side of the ball.

The D.O.: Grant seems to be the strongest offensive threat. What are some of his strengths and how does he mesh with Montana?

D.H.: Grant is probably the best player on Tulane. Right now he’s really quick. He cuts in and out of his breaks ridiculously fast. Teams are having to double cover him to be able to stop him. Right now the deep ball is doing really well, especially with Montana. They’re hooking up three or four times a game, throwing the ball deep. And the run after the catch, he’s always been really good at that. Grant is definitely Montana’s go-to guy. I think he was targeted probably 10 times or more a game, and Montana has really developed a good rapport with him. And Montana doesn’t really seem to have that with any other receiver.

The D.O.: I know Tulane was very pass-heavy last year, as no running back accrued even 300 yards. Is the team making more of an effort to run the ball?

D.H.: I would definitely say they’re trying to run the ball more. Both Orleans Darkwa and Rob Kelley have actually done a pretty good job this year. They both are combined for 300 yards already, which is much better than it was last year. It’s still not to the point where I’m sure coaches would like it to be, but they’re definitely trying to run the ball more. In the second game, they were down quite a bit so they kind of abandoned the run in that game, but other than that the run game has looked really well. They’ve rushed for over 100 yards in two of the three games, but Montana has passed probably too much already this year. In Week 2 he passed for the most passes he’s ever attempted in any game at any level so they definitely need to cut back passing the ball a little more.

The D.O.: What have you heard about Cairo Santos regarding his status for the game and how do you see the game playing out differently if he’s not able to play?

D.H.: I haven’t heard anything about his status. I went to a press conference Tuesday, and right now they’re not sure if he’s going to play in Saturday’s game. Curtis Johnson wouldn’t reveal how far his replacement could kick so I think it’ll definitely have an effect on the game when you can rely on Santos to hit from 50-plus yards, as opposed to Steven Broccoli, who might not be able to hit from 40.

The D.O.: What’s your take on Nico Marley? Is he getting playing time as a freshman linebacker?

D.H.: I think he’s a pretty quiet guy right now. He’s a freshman. He’s only been here for a few weeks, and I think he’s just starting to get acclimated to the team. I think it’s definitely shown in his play. The first game he didn’t look quite right out there, but in the last two games he’s played more and he’s played a lot better. He got a fumble recovery last week and he’s really solidified the linebacking corps, a group that’s looked pretty poor at times this year.

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