April 11, 2007
New Orleans - The Tulane football team completed its ninth session of spring practice on Wednesday with a spirited outing that culminated in a short yardage contest between the offense and defense. The Green Wave continues its spring campaign this Thursday and Saturday from 8:30 to 11:00 a.m. at the Westfeldt Practice facility.
After Tuesday's inclement weather forced TU to cut short its preparations, the Wave picked up where it left off on Wednesday and the coaching staff made sure its implementation of its new systems stayed on schedule.
"We repeated the last half of practice from yesterday, so we really missed that part of practice, but the enthusiasm and effort were both good and that's the main thing," head coach Bob Toledo said. "We can make gains if we keep the intensity up and I thought it was really good today. Although we missed some reps of practice time, we still meet and our players have been able to learn a lot during those meetings, so I feel like we're caught up."
Tulane began the morning with a tackling circuit and moved into live punt and punt return drills. The Wave then moved to positional drills before heading back to special teams with kick-off coverage.
The highlight of the day came at the end when the offense and defense squared off in a series of six third-and-one short yardage drills. At stake was a fitness exercise for the losing side. Despite overcast skies and a few drops of rain during the first two hours and 15 minutes, the sun peeked through the clouds as the two teams began their competition. By the time the final whistle blew, both sides battled to a 3-3 draw, which meant both sides were spared the extra conditioning.
"We tried to improve today on our short yardage situations, both offensively and defensively, and in particularly on third-and-one. We had a scrimmage last Thursday and we were not very good in that situation, so we tried to emphasize that today. Everyday, we try to emphasize a situation, either red zone or long yardage, and today it was short yardage," Toledo said.
We had a little enthusiasm today. We had a contest between the offense and defense in short yardage situations with the loser having to do up-downs. But they tied, 3-3. If you are an offensive coordinator, you're happy if the offense does well and the same goes for the defensive coordinator if the defense does well. If you're the head coach, you can never be pleased, but today they were equal so I feel good coming off the field."
With both sides, coming up even in the short yardage drill, Toledo was quick praise individuals on each side of the ball.
"The receivers caught my eye today. I thought (Brian) King and Jeremy (Williams) did a great job. The running backs continue to impress me with their running ability and all three of the tight ends are doing well. Offensive line-wise, we're moving guys around and trying to find the best five players. We've got some guys nicked-up, so that's been a little bit of problem, but we'll continue to get better there," Toledo said.
Defensively, I like the way our defensive backs are progressing. I think (David) Skehan and (Joe) Goosby are really solid, and (Chinonso) Echebelem and (Corey) Sonnier are really coming on and very impressive, so we'll have quality depth there. The defensive line is showing a lot enthusiasm and work ethic and they are continuing to get better as well."
With just nine practices remaining in the spring slate, Toledo remains upbeat about the quick learning curve he and his staff are throwing at his first-year team and said Tulane remains on course despite weather delays.
"I'm really pleased with the progress of the team up to this point. We have put a lot in offensively and defensively and we are will installing things. We are trying to find out what is the best fit for these guys and what do they do best. We'll come back in the fall and actually put them in position to do what they do best, and when we add it will be something they were exposed to this spring," said Toledo.