Ground Game Highlights Scrimmage As Football Wraps Week 2

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Redshirt-freshman wide receiver Devin Boutte had two catches for 22 yards during Saturday's scrimmage at the Westfeldt Practice Facility.
Redshirt-freshman wide receiver Devin Boutte had two catches for 22 yards during Saturday's scrimmage at the Westfeldt Practice Facility.

Aug. 18, 2012

Stats From Saturday's Scrimmage
Video Interview With Coach Johnson
Video Interview With Junior Linebacker D.Farley
Video Interview With Freshman Running Back J.Rounds
Photo Gallery From Saturday's Scrimmage

NEW ORLEANS - Sophomore running back Robert Kelley ran for 50 yards and a touchdown on seven carries to hightlight a 139-yard rushing performance by the Green Wave as the Tulane University football team wrapped up week two of preseason practice with a scrimmage on Saturday morning at the Westfeldt Practice Facility.

As a team, the Wave averaged 4.8 yards on 29 carries and Kelley led the way with a 7.1 clip. Freshman back Josh Rounds was second on the squad with 48 yards on seven totes (6.9 avg.) while adding a 17-yard touchdown reception, and sophomore Danté Butler added 40 yards and a score on six carries (6.7 avg.).

"As an offense, we played well," first-year Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said. "I really challenged the offensive line this week and they moved the ball. They looked great. The backs were fantastic today also.

"I thought Ryan Griffin managed the game so well. We started at the minus-one and he marched them down the field. If I had let him throw the ball into the endzone, we probably would have scored. He was fantastic. I thought Devin Powell came in and did well also. He's still learning and has a ways to go, but he played well. Ponder, for the first time (with extensive action), got us in and out of plays really well."

Griffin finished the day completing 6-of-8 passes for 36 yards while Powell led all quarterbacks with 76 yards on 5-of-12 passing, including a 37-yard toss to junior wideout Ryan Grant. Grant paced the receiving corps with three grabs for 68 yards and redshirt-freshman wide receiver Devin Boutte had two grabs for 22 yards.

Junior linebacker Dominique Robertson (5 solo, 1 assist) and senior safety Shakiel Smith (2 solo, 4 assists) shared team-high tackle honors with six each. Robertson and junior defensive end Wendell Beckwith had one sack apiece while sophomore linebacker Matthew Bailey had 2.0 tackles for loss among his three stops.

Junior linebacker Zach Davis and freshman corner Jordan Batiste had interceptions on the day while the trio of Davis, junior safety Kyle Davis and rookie cornerback Darion Monroe each broke up one pass.

If there was a negative to the morning, it was that the Green Wave saw three long drives end in field goals of 18, 25 and 26 yards off the toe of junior kicker Cairo Santos and that Tulane drew a combined 12 penalties (7 offensive, 6 defensive). Johnson, however, was quick to write that off and left the field with a huge smile on his face.

"It was designed by the play calling," Johnson said of not being able to cap the drives with touchdowns. "Today, we said we wanted to run the football and that's what we tried to do. We tried to run it all in, but that won't happen in games. I think we'll get in and get six on some of those types of drives.

"Our efficiency wasn't as good. Most of the penalties were on young players. We had some special teams problems. We just have to teach them to understand that the game is a game. They have to play the game to win and winning is not beating yourself."

The scrimmage concluded with a red-zone drill where Johnson gave his offense the ball first-and-goal from the 10 yard line. The defense held twice, but the offense got a six-yard scoring run by Butler and a 10-yard touchdown gallop by Kelley before closing things out with a 17-yard scoring strike from Ponder to Rounds on the final play of the day.

The Green Wave will enjoy a day off on Sunday before returning to action with a two-a-day practice on Monday. Tulane will hold single practices on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, a two-a-day on Wednesday and will wrap up preseason camp with another scrimmage on Saturday. Each practice is slated to begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Westfeldt Facility with the second half of Monday and Wednesday's double-days - which will be closed to the public and media - scheduled to start at 3:45 p.m. at the New Orleans Saints' facility in Metairie.

"From now on, it's getting down to brass knuckles of what we're going to run against Rutgers," Johnson said. "We're starting to plan for those guys, getting the right players on special teams, getting in and out of the huddle, getting the right shifts and the right motions. We're getting there. That will be figured out next week."

The Green Wave formally kick off the 2012 season on Saturday, Sept. 1, when Tulane plays host to Rutgers at 7 p.m. in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Season and individual-game ticket sales are currently for sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr., Center on Ben Weiner Drive, and tickets can be purchased in person, over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.