Football season is finally here as the Deacons face off against Tulane on Thursday night!
Now it’s finally time to bring back the weekly “players to watch out for” series!
In this series, we’ll look at some of under the radar X-Factors of the Deacons opponent each week.
With all that said, here are the two players that we might want to watch out for on Thursday night.
This may finally be the year for Donnie Lewis. Lewis, a two-star recruit out of Baton Rouge, LA, fell into the laps of Tulane. That’s because the school was the only one to give him any sort of scholarship spot.
Throughout his first three years with the team, Lewis was never able to secure a true spot on the field. This is as a result of the team’s incredible depth in the secondary. During his freshman and sophmore campaign, he was teammates with arguably one of the best secondary corps in the G5.
This was with the likes of Sam Scofield, Darion Monroe, and Parry Nickerson. Last year, he was behind Taurean Nixon and Lorenzo Doss, and never got any true playing time. Both of whom were selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.
These moves leave Lewis on an island of his own this upcoming season. He has been given the keys to the team’s defensive backfield by defensive coordinator Jack Curtis.
On an individual level, Lewis has the capabilities of being the team’s next great playmaker in the secondary.
Having been “under the wing” of all these elusive corners, there’s a sense of knowledge and understanding of the game that Lewis has received that you can’t get everywhere. By learning his old teammates’ motions and techniques, Lewis has a real chance to emulate those skills.
The Green Wave play primarily a press coverage scheme on defense. At 6’0”, 180 pounds, Lewis certainly has the physical tools to be a hassle for Wake’s offense flow.
On game day, he will most likely cover the team’s number one option at receiver, Greg Dortch. It will be interesting to see if Lewis is ready to take command of their team’s secondary as he enters his senior season.
We’ll find out shortly, but one thing’s for sure, Tulane has an experienced corner who is ready to showcase his talents once and for all.
Darnell Mooney has a chance to change the narrative of his team’s offense. For the past five years, Tulane hasn’t been able to become a real factor throwing the football, nor have they really wanted to consistently since switching to the triple option attack.
Since Ryan Grant’s breakout seasons starting in 2012, the team hasn’t had any receiver to gain over 700 yards for a season.
Mooney might be able to break that trend. Similar to the previously mentioned Donnie Lewis, Mooney has been caught in a logjam at his position since he entered college. In fact, he was the tenth best receiver on his team during his freshman season. Now, due to the departures he has a chance to be the team’s number one man outside.
Another keynote to mention is his recent efficiency spike. During Mooney’s sophomore season last year, we saw a dramatic increase in his production from a year before. He was able to catch ten more passes, which allowed his total yardage to almost double from the season prior. During that season, he connected on 35 passes that lead to 599 yards and four touchdowns, twice as many his freshman campaign.
Another reason why he could be a problem on Thursday night is Tulane’s current option at receiver. Mooney isn’t a one-man wrecking crew. That’s because his teammate, Terren Encalade, has also seen an increase of production and should continue his dominant trend at slot receiver.
Now, the Deacons defense has to worry about two quality starters at receiver.
In all, Mooney and Lewis are two players to mark down as underrated matchups coming into the Deacons matchup against Tulane. Both players have preserved lack of playing time and now have that chip on their shoulder and are hungry to get rolling.