March 26, 2008
NEW ORLEANS, La. - While the familiar pings of the aluminum bats and the popping of baseballs pounded leather gloves at the new Greer Field at Turchin Stadium, there was a lot of hooting and hollering going on next door as the Tulane University football team opened Spring Practice 2008 Wednesday afternoon at the James Westfeldt Practice Facility.
Donning helmets, shorts and jerseys, 70 Green Wave players took the field to kick off year two under head coach Bob Toledo and his staff. And while it was the usual, vanilla drills that one would expect from the first day of practice, there was a hint of familiarity swirling the practice fields as the student-athletes showed great retention from what they learned last spring as well as during the fall.
"My initial thoughts are that we are way ahead of last year on the first day," Toledo said. "(A year ago), we didn't know the offense, we didn't know the defense and the coaches really didn't know the players very well. So there is a much better understanding. For example, we ran more plays today than we did the first day last spring.
"I think the thing that is pleasing is that it shows that they worked extremely hard in the offseason. We can't coach them on the field, but they've come out here on their own, they've worked throwing the football and doing those kinds of things and it showed today. We just kind of took over where we left off last fall and that's kind of a nice feeling as a coach."
Following team stretching, the squad broke into positional drills for a spell and went through the usual gamut of skeleton passing drills and team sessions. The bulk of the highlights came during the 7-on-7 drills when the trio of quarterbacks Scott Elliott, Joe Kemp and Kevin Moore took turns making plays.
Not to be outdone, the defense had its share of plays as well. Redshirt-sophomore Alex Wacha picked off a Kemp pass and broke up another, sophomore safety Devin Holland knocked down another pass, and senior corner Josh Lumar drew several cheers when he batted down a deep pass down the middle late in the period.
While incumbent starter Anthony Scelfo is off playing baseball for the Wave during the spring, the other three quarterbacks are embattled in a wide-open quarterback race during the spring.
"I'm really going to leave that up in the air and see what happens," Toledo said. "I want to give them all an opportunity to compete. I think they all realize that they're not the starter right now. Scott Elliott started last year and he's in the mix. Kevin Moore played a little bit last year and has some experience. And we have a young freshman named Joe Kemp who's getting some reps as well.
"I don't think (Scelfo playing baseball) sets him back in the sense that he has played. He understands the offense. He's got experience. We don't need to see what he can do. We've seen what he can do. We need to see what some of the other guys can do under pressure."
Other notables from Wednesday's practice come in the former of position changes as senior David Skehan - who played free safety the last two seasons for Tulane - lined up at weak-side linebacker. In addition, Wacha was moved from cornerback to free safety.
Only three players were held out of the opening day of spring practice as junior defensive end Adam Kwentua (back), McDonald (hamstring) and junior fullback Jeremy McKinney (back) due to injury. Kwentua and McDonald watched from the sideline and are considered day-to-day, while McKinney was excused after undergoing surgery.
The Green Wave return to practice on Thursday, March 27, when they will once again take the field in helmets shorts and jerseys at 2:30 p.m., and the squad will enjoy a day off on Friday. From there, the team returns to action on Saturday when they go full pads from 1-3:30 p.m. at the Westfeldt Facility.
Season tickets for the 2008 Tulane football season are now on sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. Being a season ticket holder allows you to receive priority seating locations and lower prices than individual game ticket purchasers. Adult sideline seats are $180, while adult end zone seats are $90 and youth (under 18) end zone seats are just $72.
For more information on 2008 Tulane football tickets or tickets to any future Green Wave home athletic event, contact the Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE.