NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Tulane Green Wave has spent the past two weeks balancing football with much larger concerns for senior safety Devon Walker, who fractured his spine against Tulsa.
Still, coach Curtis Johnson senses Tulane (0-2) will be ready to get back on the field when it hosts Mississippi (1-2) in the Superdome on Saturday.
"We're doing pretty good — about as well as can be expected," Johnson said.
Walker has been transferred from a hospital to an undisclosed rehabilitation facility, but his family's requests for privacy has prevented Tulane from discussing the extent to which Walker may be dealing with paralysis often associated with spinal injuries.
Back on campus, the school arranged for players to have counseling if they wished, and Johnson said practice has been "spirited."
"We've done everything that we possibly could so that these guys can move in a direction to do what they love to do," Johnson said.
Ole Miss seeks to bounce back from a humiliating 66-31 home loss to Texas in which the Rebels yielded a whopping 676 yards.
First-year coach Hugh Freeze is trying to get his players to take a more clinical approach to correcting the errors from that game rather than allowing any bitter emotions to linger and become a distraction from the next game on the schedule.
"You've just got to learn from the mistakes. We can't let Texas beat us twice," Freeze said. "It's done. It's history. It's gone. We can't go back and play them. We can't go back and change anything we did in that game."
The loss to Texas put a damper on what looked like a promising start for the Freeze regime after victories against Central Arkansas and UTEP. The last thing Mississippi wants now is to slide into a two-game skid against a team it has owned since the year George H. W. Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan as president.
Tulane and Ole Miss have met 70 times, dating back to 1893. The Rebels have won 42 of those games, including the past 10 meetings since last losing to the Green Wave in 1988. Tulane 19-year-old freshman quarterback Devin Powell, who will be pressed into his first start this weekend because of a shoulder injury to senior Ryan Griffin, was born four years after the last time the Wave beat the Rebels.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Powell showed promise after relieving Griffin at Tulsa.