Junior running back J.T. McDonald ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns during Wednesday practice at the Westfeldt Practice Facility.
April 21, 2010
NEW ORLEANS - Junior running back J.T. McDonald and sophomore tailback Stephen Barnett combined for 156 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries as the Tulane University football team continued its Spring Drills with a handful of situational sessions Wednesday morning at the Westfeldt Practice Facility.
McDonald bolted for 97 yards and two scores, including a 40-yard scoring jaunt and a 29-yard gallop with his team backed up against its own goal line. Barnett, meanwhile, powered his way for 59 yards on seven carries, including a five-yard touchdown in red zone drills.
"Both of them really did a nice job," Green Wave head coach Bob Toledo said of his backfield. "They ran with power and they made plus yards. [Albert] Williams didn't scrimmage today because he's got turf toe and we had a walk-on play some today.
"The running backs are doing a nice job. It's probably going to be more running back by committee next year rather than one horse running the race. With the guys that we have and the freshmen that we have coming in, I feel confident that we have a good group of players there."
While Barnett and McDonald were the stars of the day, the running game was hardly the lone focal point of Toledo and his staff on Wednesday. Following team stretching and a brief positional session, the Green Wave went through an array of punt and punt-return plays, worked third-down-and-distance plays and spent time as offensive and defensive units.
From there, the entire team reconvened for a series of first-and-10 plays where Toledo challenged his offense to gain at least four yards while asking his defense to hold the opponent to three-or-fewer yards. Over the course of 12 plays, the offense met its four-yard challenge seven times, including McDonald's 40-yard score and a 17-yard pass play from senior tight end Kevin Moore to sophomore tight end Kevin Burris. Not to be outdone, the defense had several big hts, including sack by senior defensive tackle Oscar Ponce de Leon.
Following a session focusing on kickoff coverage and kickoff return, the offensive and defensive units were back at it as the Tulane team went through various third-down scenarios. While the offense made its share of plays, it was the defense's time to shine as the Green Wave batted down three passes and picked off two. Sophomore linebacker Trent Mackey corralled a pass tipped by fellow defender Devon Walker for one of the picks, and senior defensive back Chandler Davis accounted for the other when snared a Moore pass and raced 58 yard untouched down the right sideline for a touchdown.
Toledo then placed the ball at the 20-yard line for a series of red zone drills and the offense came away with three touchdowns and a field goal while Walker picked off a pass in the endzone to thwart a drive for the defense.
The Green Wave wrapped up the day with coming-out drills where the ball is spotted at the one-yard line and 99 yards of real estate in front of the offense. McDonald broke the first run for a 29-yard gain, but he defense held for the remaining five plays from deep in the offense's own territory, including a safety.
"During the season, there will come a time when you're on your one-yard line and you've got to get out offensively so you can punt and not be on the end line and try and make a first down," Toledo said. "Defensively, you've got to stop them and hold them there for a punt so that the offense gets good field position.
"We did a lot of situations. We evaluated a bunch of people. We've got some people nicked up right now that didn't' scrimmage but who will hopefully will be ready to go by Saturday. Then we'll be done, we'll evaluate the whole spring and get ready for the fall."
The Green Wave will enjoy a day away from the field on Thursday before returning to the practice field on Friday, April 23 from 8 a.m. until noon. Tulane will wrap up Spring Practice on Saturday, April 24, with a brief practice before holding its final scrimmage of the non-traditional season, which is slated to begin around 11 a.m.
Season tickets for the 2010 Tulane football season remain on sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. Season ticket prices are only $199 for sideline seats, $99 for adult endzone, $65 for youth endzone and $250 for the Family 4 Pack (2 adult, 2 youth). For additional information or to order season tickets, please call the Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE, log onto the internet at TulaneGreenWave.com, or show up in person at the ticket office located inside the James W. Wilson Jr. Center on Ben Weiner Drive.