Sophomore offensive lineman Alex Paul goes through a drill during a recent preseason practice.
Aug. 6, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Practicing outside for the first time since the initial day of preseason camp, the Tulane University football team saw both the temperature and the intensity soar as the Green Wave held a two-plus hour session at an off-campus facility.
Wearing helmets, shoulder pads and shorts, the Tulane team had perhaps its most physical practice to date and second-year head coach Curtis Johnson was pleased with the progress his team has made to date.
"I heard a couple of cracks that I hadn't heard in a while," Johnson said. "It was fun to watch. It was a very fun practice. I thought it was awesome. The weather was a little hotter than anticipated and the guys were like, `Golly, it's getting hot' as we got toward the end. But the conditioning will pay off in the fourth quarter. I thought we had an outstanding practice."
While it continues to be a slow-down, focus-on-the-details camp so far, the team went through its usual array of drills that saw highlights in all three phases of the game.
The defensive backs sported a bit of a new look as Johnson had his corners and safeties wear blinders to keep their attention out of the backfield, and the move worked as several balls were batted away and coverage was solid. Senior cornerback Derrick Strozier turned in perhaps the best play of the day on that side of the ball as he stripped the ball on a running play, scooped it up and was well on his way for a score before whistles blew to call the play dead.
Redshirt-freshman running back Lazedrick Thompson showed good power on inside runs and flashed some speed in getting to the outside at times. Sophomore corner Jordan Batiste batted down a would-be touchdown pass in the endzone and rookie quarterback Tanner Lee connected with senior wide receiver Ryan Grant on a nice scoring strike a few plays later.
Some of the biggest plays came away from the center of practice, however, as senior kicker Cairo Santos - a preseason All-American and winner of the 2012 Groza Award - drilled several 55-yard field goals while his offensive and defensive mates battled nearby.
Santos' streak of kicks was halted in full-team special team drills when sophomore safety Darion Monroe broke through the line and blocked a 42-yard effort. The stoic kicker bounced back and nailed his final two kicks to leave the field with a smile on his face.
"These guys are starting to learn how to practice," Johnson added. "They're starting to play well and they're starting to get the system down. We had a new install in today and it was a little rough early, but I loved the intensity."
The Green Wave return to the practice field on Wednesday when they will take an off-campus field wearing full pads for the first time with the single session slated to start at 8:30 a.m. From there, the Tulane team will sandwich a pair of two-a-day practice on Thursday and Saturday around a single practice on Friday before enjoying a day away from the field on Sunday.
Tulane will kick off the 2013 on Thursday, Aug. 29, when the Green Wave play host to Jackson State at 7 p.m. in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. For ticket information, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE (9283). Season ticket packages start as low as $100 for adults and $70 for youth.
The Tulane Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center and is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For additional information, log onto the official website at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.