By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
Devin Powell was thrown into the fire unexpectedly at Tulsa.
He’ll likely be pitched into the flames again, but this time he’s had a week to prepare.
Powell, a lightly recruited local product, is expected to start at quarterback for Tulane on Saturday morning against Ole Miss.
His first collegiate action came in the Green Wave’s 45-10 loss last week to Tulsa when he replaced fifth-year senior Ryan Griffin for the final 21⁄2 quarters.
Griffin was the starter two years ago when Ole Miss won at Tulane 27-13. He completed 21 of 30 passes for 203 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
A shoulder injury knocked him out of the Tulsa game and has kept him out of most practice this week.
It was Powell who guided the Green Wave (0-2) to its only touchdown, a 66-yard completion to Ryan Grant.
“You never really anticipate that, never really anticipate that when a freshman comes in he will be starting the third week of the season,” Tulane quarterbacks coach Mike Neu said.
Powell was rated a unanimous two-star prospect by the recruiting websites. He was all-district, Class 4A honorable mention all-state and was rated the 67th-best prospect in Louisiana last year.
He drew a lot of interest from Sun Belt Conference teams, some from BCS-level programs including a little from Ole Miss.
Powell is more mobile than Griffin.
“He’s definitely got that New Orleans swagger. He’s relaxed and laid back,” Tulane wide receiver Wilson Van Hooser said. “Even though he is relaxed, he does take control of the huddle.”
The Green Wave will try to keep the game plan simple.
Powell finished the Tulsa game 8 for 16 passing for 110 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions.
Tulane’s quarterback shuffle comes as Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze makes multiple changes in his secondary after a 66-31 loss to Texas.
Freshman Trae Elston will start at safety, and it’s possible freshman Channing Ward, at end, could make his first start also. Junior safety Charles Sawyer was moved to cornerback, his original position, at the beginning of the week.
Ole Miss opponents are completing 74 percent of their pass attempts through three games and ranks 112th nationally in pass efficiency defense.
Praying for Walker
Tulane will be playing its first game since senior safety Devon Walker suffered a cervical spine fracture on the final play of the first half at Tulsa.
Walker was moved to a rehabilitation center this week. His long-term prognosis remains unclear.
“It’s tough, it’s tough,” Ole Miss offensive lineman Emmanuel McCray said. “We’re all out here every day, and that could happen to any one of us no matter the position. My prayers go out to him.”
Ole Miss players will honor Walker with “DW” decals on their helmets Saturday.