April 4, 2009
New Orleans - The Tulane football team completed its first week of spring practice today with a rousing two and a half hour practice that culminated with 23-play scrimmage and third-down situational drills, and it was the Green Wave defensive unit that came out of the day with the upper-hand over the TU offense.
On a warm and sunny day amid a light breeze at the Westfeldt Practice Facility, the Green Wave spent time working on punt and punt return, seven-on-seven drills and the popular alley and score drills before splitting into offense and defense and scrimmaging live for the first time this spring.
In the punt return drills, Phillip Davis and Ian Harson each returned a punt for a touchdown, while punter Ross Thevenot boomed all six of his attempts and showed the crowd why he finished as the nation's second-best punter a year ago.
Both the alley drills and the scoring drill drew raves from both the players and fans on hand with the physical contact on both sides of the ball and from the team's raucous enthusiasm.
"Obviously, we've finished the first week of spring practice and we've had four days-- two in helmets and two in full gear," Tulane head coach Bob Toledo said. "Today was a padded, scrimmage-type day, but I'm not a big believer in scrimmaging all the time because you have to learn and you cannot learn by just scrimmaging. As we went through practice, we had an alley drill, which is a very physical drill, and we incorporated what we call the scoring drills where we go 3-against-3 with a runner and the offense has to go 10 yards and score in three plays and that was pretty enthusiastic. Everyone was excited about that.
Toledo maintained a controlled scrimmage that was split into two parts. All players started at the 50-yard line and the offense was expected to average four yards per down, while defense was only to give up three yards per down. The TU offense ran off 23 total players (14 pass/9 rush) and the defense came out on top on the ground, holding the Green Wave rushing attack to just 2.3 yards per carry and surrendered just 6.3 yards in 11 pass attempts.
The team completed the day in third down situational drills with varied yardage and the defense once again rose to the occasion by stuffing the run, forcing TU's quarterbacks out of the pocket and defensive backs Corey Sonnier, Alex Lauricella, Charles Harris and Phillip Davis each came up with big plays.
However, the Wave coaches were forced to hold out several key players for precautionary reasons, including starting running back Andre Anderson and reserve back Albert Williams and receivers Jeremy Williams, Casey Robottom and Taylor Echols. Defensively, Reggie Scott did not scrimmage while Logan Kelley and Adam Kwentua saw limited action.
"I think the first week of practice was very good. The attitude is very good and the enthusiasm is great. The tempo has been very fast and we were very physical the two days we were in pads. All-in-all, I think the guys that have needed to show some things have shown us some stuff, particularly the young and inexperienced guys. The nice thing is the players that are coming off surgeries, with the exception of Albert Williams, are able to practice in a lot of the basic drills without scrimmaging," Toledo said.
Tulane returns to the practice field on Monday, April 6 from 9-11:30 a.m. All practices are held at the Westfeldt Practice Facility located behind the James W. Wilson Jr., Center on Ben Weiner Drive and are open to the public.