Junior running back Rob Kelley tries to break the tackle of freshman linebacker Edward Williams during Wednesday's practice.
Aug. 7, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - The scenery and the faces remained the same, but the Tulane University football team added a new wrinkle as the Green Wave practiced in full pads for the first time on Wednesday morning at a nearby, off-campus facility.
Battling the heat and humidity, in addition to the added intensity of taking the field in full regalia, made for another successful practice that saw both the offense and the defense take turns drawing praise from the coaching staff. The team went full contact for only a small portion of the day, however, as the squad continued to focus on the details and build upon what was already installed from the respective playbooks.
"I think it goes by period," second-year head Tulane football coach Curtis Johnson said when asked whether his offense or defense held the upper hand during Wednesday's practice. "In one period, I thought the offense looked good in the live period. In the next two periods, the defense won. So that's a good problem to have. The competition is very, very good and very, very stiff.
"I thought today was good. It was our first day in pads. I thought the defense flew around more. They got some opportunities to hit and make some tackles, so we finally got some hitting. The d-line played really well in individual periods."
The bulk of Wednesday's offensive highlights came in third-and-short drill as well as first-and-10 from the minus-35. Redshirt-freshman quarterback Devin Powell connected with rookie wideout Devon Breaux for a leaping touchdown, and wide receiver Kedrick Banks scored on a reverse with the assistance of a key block by true freshman signal caller Tanner Lee. Junior tight end Matt Marfisi also got into the mix, taking a direct snap and breaking off a sizeable gain.
From there, the team went into field goal drills and senior Cairo Santos - a preseason All-American and winner of the 2012 Groza Award as the nation's top kicker - hit a 37-yarder and consecutive boots from 42 yards out before giving way to sophomore Steven Broccoli, who hit his first 45-yard try before having his second blocked by defensive back Anthony Bronzo. Santos missed the first of his 50-yard kicks one snap later, but bounced back to hit the next two attempts to finish the day 4-of-5.
In the latter portion of practice, the offense appeared to pick up where it left off as junior quarterback Nick Montana completed a long gainer to a diving Breaux and later scrambled for a first down on a busted play. The defense, however, carried most of the remaining time on the field as freshman linebacker Nico Marley and senior defensive tackle Chris Davenport read a draw play and a screen pass, respectively, to both post tackles for loss. Marley later added a pass break-up and rookie defensive lineman Tanzel Smart pulled down an interception of a middle screen to spark his defensive mates into an all-out frenzy of a celebration.
Devon Breaux has been having a great camp," Johnson said. "All of the quarterbacks -Montana, Powell and Tanner Lee - played well. I really like what Tanner did today. Robert Kelley had a good day running the football. I saw Jordan Sullen make a play in the endzone to stop a touchdown, so those guys are playing well."
The Green Wave return to the practice field on Thursday, Aug. 8, when they hold their first two-a-day of the preseason. Tulane will open the day at the New Orleans Saints Facility at 7:30 a.m., when they will scrimmage part of that session, before heading back outdoors in the afternoon. The Wave will hold a single practice on Friday at 8:30 a.m. before closing out the week with another two-a-day on Saturday.
"It'll be the second day in pads and it's a two-a-day," Johnson said of tomorrow's practices. "We'll have a couple of scrimmage periods along with a special teams period in there. We're indoors so there shouldn't be any excuses."
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.