April 10, 2008
New Orleans - The Tulane defense stole the show today with several sacks, interceptions and timely pass break-ups, and continued to display its improvement under first-year defensive coordinator O'Neill Gilbert as the Green Wave reached the one-third mark of spring practice today at the Westfeldt Practice Facility.
For the second straight day, Tulane was blessed with an ample amount of cloud cover as strong winds swept through the 24-period practice and kept the sunlight at a premium. The Green Wave completed its 10th practice of the spring and has just five remaining. Tulane will take Friday off and return to the gridiron on Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m.
Today, Tulane's defense was the main attraction, making play-after-play all afternoon. As the team opened the team passing drill, junior cornerback Josh Lumar picked off the first pass attempt from redshirt freshman Kevin Moore, and junior David Skehan, who is making the move to linebacker from safety this spring, reached high and came up with an interception of his own off a throw from junior Scott Elliott.
Not to be completely shut down, freshman quarterback Joe Kemp found sophomore receiver Jeremy Williams on a quick route and Williams turned the play into a 30-yard gain. However, several plays later Kemp's pass over the middle found its way into the hands of freshman safety Dominique Dade.
"We tried to tone down the tempo today. We were pretty physical yesterday and we wanted to work a little better together today. The offense seemed to take half the day off and the defense kept its paced and performed much better," Tulane head coach Bob Toledo said.
A year ago during his first spring at Tulane, Toledo spent the majority of the spring installing the playbook on both sides of the ball. With 10 practices under their belts this spring, Toledo was quick to point out not just the areas of improvement, but the overall practice mindset he and his staff is trying to instill in the Green Wave.
"I think the vast improvement we have made this spring as a team is the understanding the tempo of how to practice. They seem to have a better understanding of what we're asking them to do and there is a basic understanding of the knowledge of what we want to do both offensively and defensively. Yet, we're still trying to find ourselves at some positions. We are still experimenting because we don't have a lot of players out here right now. We have about 68 guys out here this spring and we're obviously counting on the 20 freshmen coming in this fall. We're taking them through the situations that happen over the course of a game and trying to expose them to as much as we can.
"I've been very pleased with our receivers and with the tight end position. We don't have a lot of running backs right now, but I'm happy with the progress of the two freshmen fullbacks. I think they are doing a nice job of learning from last year and getting better this spring. Defensively, I think the defensive line and cornerbacks are doing a good job," Toledo said.
A very detail oriented coach, Toledo and his staff have every practice mapped out from beginning to end, and from day one to day 15. When asked if his team was where he wanted it to be by day 10 of spring practice, Toledo was quick to point out that the Green Wave is right on schedule.
"I think we are where I envisioned at this point in spring practice, but I'm a disappointed that we're missing several key players like James Dillard, Chinonso Echebelem and Adam Kwentua to injury. I really wanted them to be out here, but I'm very pleased with where we are at and what we are doing," Toledo said.