Morgan State football’s first road game of the season is being diverted by about 350 miles.
The Bears (0-1 overall) will play against Tulane (0-1) at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama, Saturday at 1 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for 6 p.m. at Yulman Stadium in New Orleans, but the Green Wave has relocated to Birmingham due to extensive damage caused by Hurricane Ida that swept through Louisiana Aug. 29.
“Right now, what I’m understanding is that it’s going to be in Birmingham,” Morgan State coach Tyrone Wheatley said Monday morning during a Zoom conference call hosted by the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. “The game is going to be moved to Birmingham at 12 o’clock [local time], and we’ll just go.”
Ida made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane with a maximum wind of 150 miles per hour. More than 1 million people in Louisiana were left without power, and Ida later generated tornadoes and flash flooding as the remnants of the storm crossed into the northeastern portion of the country.
“Prayers go out to those and their families there,” Wheatley said. “They did it for a reason, and it’s a reason that’s naturally out of our control. There’s the health and safety, but at the same time, it’s out of our control. So we’re talking about the things that we can control, and that’s just playing football.”
Tulane was forced to move its season opener against No. 2 Oklahoma on Saturday from New Orleans to Norman, Oklahoma. The Green Wave rallied from deficits of 37-14 at halftime and 40-22 just a few minutes into the fourth quarter and intercepted Heisman Trophy hopeful Spencer Rattler twice before running out of time and absorbing a 40-35 loss.
Wheatley said it would not be difficult for Morgan State, which suffered a 31-0 shutout by Towson at Hughes Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, to turn their attention to Tulane.
“The story is going to be the team, Tulane,” he said. “They have speed. So the transition from last week where a team is going to come at you, run downhill, play-action pass to now where you’ve got guys that can run like rabbits and they’re going all over the place, a quarterback that can hurt you from the air and with his legs, so now you have to transition. So it’s about locking in, putting the blinders on, and playing within your keys. When you see a little, you see a lot as opposed to trying to take it all in and missing everything. So we just have to reverse that mindset.”
Wheatley said the Bears cannot let the change in venue and time impact their preparations for the Green Wave.
“It’s a football field with lines, hash marks, field goals, and a locker room,” he said. “Now if the field wasn’t 100 yards, then we would have to adjust that way. But other than that, there’s really no adjustment.”