March 27, 2008
NEW ORLEANS - One of the biggest questions facing the Tulane University football team since the end of the 2007 football season has been the issue of who will become the running back to replace Matt Forté in the backfield.
The answer may not lie in any one individual, but the role may be filled by a system of tailbacks and fullbacks getting the job done next season. The most prominent tailbacks currently at practice are junior André Anderson and redshirt freshman Andre Agers. Anderson is a 6-0, 207-pound power back who can also shift away from defenders and catch the ball out of the backfield. Agers is decidedly smaller at 5-9, 180 pounds, but he is quick and shifty, and can run away from defenders with good speed.
"André Anderson is a real good running back in my opinion," Tulane head coach Bob Toledo said. "He's got size, he's got speed, and he's worked extremely hard in the offseason by himself to catch the ball better because our tailbacks catch the ball. So he's done a great job of working catching the ball.
"Andre Agers is a freshman who redshirted a year ago. He was on the scout team, but he's shown real quickness. He's making some mistakes as far as plays because he doesn't know them all yet, but he's got a lot of ability."
The Green Wave has a couple of fullbacks who both played as true freshmen in 2007 in Cody Blackwelder and Jordan Stephany. The pair will fill the typical fullback duties of blocking for the tailbacks and occasionally running or catching the ball out of the backfield, but they will also each have a shot to play some tailback next season, said Toledo.
"I'm pleased with both Cody Blackwelder and Jordan Stephany," Toledo said. "They both played as true freshmen. They do the things that we want. Number one, they'll block. Number two, they can catch the football, and they're good runners. As a matter of fact, there will be some times where both of them will actually have to play tailback as well. I'm trying to teach them some tailback so we will have depth at that position."
The team continued spring drills on a Thursday that was much warmer than the first day of practice and brought more intensity from the defensive side of the football in team drills even though the team was still in shorts and helmets. The practice began with the same position drills that one is used to at the beginning of practice, but the group portions brought some high-spirited play on both sides of the ball.
The quarterbacks threw in the 7-on-7 drills and the team offense and defensive scrimmage to end the practice. Senior Scott Elliott completed 6-of-16 passes, redshirt freshman Joe Kemp was 13-for-16 and sophomore Kevin Moore went 13-of-18 passing on the day. The offensive play of the day came from a connection from Kemp to junior Chris Dunn for 30 yards early in the 7-on-7 drills. All three quarterbacks worked hard spreading the field from sideline to sideline and checking down receivers in the flats and at the line of scrimmage.
The defense played a big role in forcing the quarterbacks to roll through their progression of receivers so quickly and dump off to the running backs near the line of scrimmage with tight coverage downfield. The defenders brought some hits to their offensive counterparts and so much intensity at times that the coaches had to calm them down.
Sophomore Safety Alex Wacha came up with an interception of an Elliott pass, but the best defensive play happened when senior linebacker Jordan Ellis stole a bobbled Kemp pass away from redshirt freshman Taylor Echols and returned it for a touchdown.
The Green Wave will enjoy a day off on Friday before donning full pads on Saturday for the first time this spring from 1-3:30 p.m. at the Westfeldt Facility. Fans who wish to see the Tulane football team in action during the spring can park for free on the sixth floor of the Collins Diboll Memorial Complex any time after 2:30 on practice days.
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.