March 31, 2008
NEW ORLEANS, La. - With experience at four of the five offensive line positions, Tulane is seeking to fill perhaps the most important piece of the unit, the one which begins every play and alerts his teammates on blocking assignments - the center.
Last season, Aryan Barto started all 12 games, and in 2006 Michael Parenton, who now plays guard, stood ground at the position for most of the year. The answer to who will be the one to hold the anchor in 2008 is up in the air.
Tyler Rice is a 6-5, 296-pound junior who started two games at right tackle, but is now challenging for the starting position as the anchor of an experienced offensive line. Joey Ray is a 6-3, 317-pound redshirt-freshman who redshirted in 2007, but receives a lot of high remarks from the coaches.
The coaches have also said that Parenton, a senior, and sophomore Andrew Nierman, who started all 12 games in 2007 at right guard, also have a chance to grab the role. The experience of the two is a big factor in their candidacy.
"We've got three guys right now - Rice, Ray and Parenton," Tulane head coach Bob Toledo said. "Even Nierman's playing right now to be honest with you, but we're trying to find the best guy at that position and we'll work out the guard and tackle position from there. We're going to play the five best guys. We're looking to anchor the center first, and the next best guy will be the guard. But we need a center first because we can't play with the ball just sitting on the ground.
"It's a real skill and only so many people can do it. That's what practice is for. We want to find out who can do it. If they can do it, they'll play center. If they can't do it, they'll play somewhere else or they won't play at all."
The defense had a hard-working practice, according to Toledo, and did a much better job of "thudding" than hitting offensive players to the ground. The best defensive effort of the practice came when senior Charles Harris stepped in front of a Joe Kemp pass on the left sideline and picked the ball clean.
"I thought the one thing we got better at was we were very physical, yet we stayed off the ground on defense," Toledo said. "We were falling down all over the place on Saturday and it was like a scrimmage. That's not what it's all about. We call it `thud.' That means that everything is full speed, but we're not cutting people, we're not tackling so nobody gets hurt. I thought our defense did a great job today of having that discipline and yet playing hard."
The Green Wave returns to the practice field Wednesday from 2:30-5 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.