March 29, 2007
NEW ORLEANS, La. - The Tulane University football team donned pads for the first time during the Bob Toledo as the Green Wave suited up for day three of spring practice Thursday morning at the Westfeldt Practice Facility.
The squad went through a 24-period, two and a half hour practice, which culminated with a full-team session. The Green Wave continued to pick up the intricacies of a new offense and defense, and the coaching staff also learned more about the team they it inherited following Toledo's hiring back on Dec. 11.
"It's exciting because he get to see them hit a little bit," Toledo said. "But once you put the pads on, things become a little raggedy, too. I think that's what happened. They get so intent on hitting people, they kind of forget what they're supposed to do and they kind of go out of control a little bit."
One of the coaching staff's major challenges during the spring is to evaluate the talent on the team and figure who will be making major contributions next fall. As a result, several players have been asked to change positions and are learning on the job during spring practice. Among those making position moves are Charles Harris, Pete Hendrickson, D'Metres Hill and Adam Kwentua. Harries moves from receiver to cornerback, Hendrickson is seeing time at both tackle and tight end, Hill is undergoing the transition from quarterback to wide receiver, and Kwentua is shifting form linebacker to defensive end.
All have had their highlights over the first three spring practices, including an acrobatic interception by Harris in Thursday's skeleton drills. Hill has also flashed the ability to get open and made a few nice catches in traffic.
"We're trying to get the best 11 guys on the field on both sides of the ball," Toledo said. "We're looking at guys in different positions. We're moving some guys around to try and put them in the best position. We're just looking at a bunch of people right now. We're not worried about a depth chart at this point. We're just trying to find out who the best players are that can fit into our schemes."
The team went through its usual array of drills during Thursday's practice, but with full pads on, went through a version of the "Nutcracker Drill" where a blocker goes head to head with a defender as a running back tries to advance. Both the offense and defensive player won their fair share of battles during the drill, much like they did in the full-team session of practice which closed out the day.
Senior running back Matt Forté made some nice cuts and long gainers, junior quarterback Scott Elliott connected with redshirt-freshman wideout Casey Robottom for a 20-yard gain, and sophomore receiver Chris Dunn hauled in a pass from sophomore quarterback Anthony Scelfo on a stop-and-go route and turned it into a long touchdown.
Defensively, sophomore defensive end Logan Kelley knocked down a pass after making a nice rush off the edge, sophomore defensive tackle Oscar Ponce de Leon and junior linebacker Jordan Ellis collaborated for a sack, and sophomore defensive back Cory Sonnier intercepted a pass on a short curl.
"I thought the first three days were good," Toledo said. "We're putting a lot of things in and we're learning right now. As I told them, we're going to scrimmage on Saturday, but we're here to practice, too. We've got to learn. It's not just to scrimmage. They've got a lot of things to learn yet. Before you can scrimmage, you've got to learn some plays, learn some defenses and learn what we're doing in the kicking game. We will scrimmage, but it won't be a full-practice scrimmage. It'll be about a half-hour scrimmage."
The Green Wave will take a day off from practice on Friday, and will return to the field on Saturday at approximately 8:30 a.m. The team will go through its usual schedule of individual and group sessions, and will end the day with a 30-45 minute scrimmage, which is slated to start around 10:45 a.m.
Season tickets for the 2007 Tulane football season are now on sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. Adult sideline seats are $200, while adult end zone seats are $100 and youth (under 18) end zone seats are just $80. For more information, contact the Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE.