Aug. 20, 2008
NEW ORLEANS - Junior running back André Anderson ran for 121 yards and three scores on eight carries while the defensive duo of sophomore Phillip Davis and senior David Skehan each returned interceptions for touchdowns as the Tulane University football team held a 100-play scrimmage in day 13 of preseason camp Wednesday afternoon at the Westfeldt Practice Facility.
The Green Wave held nine four-period practices beginning at 3:30 p.m. and the day did not conclude until after 6 p.m. In between, head coach Bob Toledo had his team go through a vast array of scenarios, including mounting drives, red zone and the kicking game.
"We'll go up and evaluate the whole thing, but I saw that we're not in playing shape," Toledo said following the grueling practice. "We're dragging a little bit. I saw a bunch of missed tackles because we're tired. I saw a couple of interceptions, which was bad for the offense but really good for the defense because they returned them for touchdowns. I saw some kicking game stuff where we had some flaws.
"But I also saw some pretty good efforts by some people. I liked the running backs. I thought some of the linebackers did some good things. But again, without watching the film, that's just off the top of my head."
Anderson averaged over 15 yards per carry on the day, including a 61-yard touchdown romp on his final run of the afternoon. Davis picked off a pass tipped by junior linebacker David Kirksey in the scrimmages third series and returned it 42 yards for the score. Skehan, meanwhile, jumped a route in the flat and went untouched up the right sideline for a 37-yard touchdown.
Starting quarterback Kevin Moore completed 8-of-17 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown, while redshirt-freshman backup Joe Kemp was 11-of-20 for 121 yards, a score and two interceptions. Not to be left out, freshman Ryan Griffin connected on four of his five pass attempts for 37 yards while fellow rookie D.J. Ponder was 1-of-5 for 14 yards.
"Kevin's got a great grasp of the offense right now," Toledo said. "You can tell that he's been here. He knows what's going on. He did a nice job of getting rid of the ball (when he had to) and then making a play afterward. Quarterbacks sometime think they've got to make a play every play. They have to learn that sometimes the defense wins, too. You have to get rid of the ball and live to play another play. He did a nice job of that today, particularly in the red zone."
The emphasis on Wednesday, however, was the running game. As a team, the Green Wave offense ran for 242 yards and seven touchdowns on 49 carries, averaging 4.93 yards per tote. Anderson set the tone for the day with several nice runs before jaunting down the left sideline for his final touchdown of the day. He also had one reception for 16 yards.
"He's had a really good camp," Toledo said of Anderson. "I think the thing he's doing, as opposed to the other guys, is he's not getting tackled. That sounds crazy, but a lot of the young guys get hit and they go down right away. I tell them they're not tackled until both of your feet are up over your head. That's why he broke that long run. He just kept his feet alive, just like we do in our `thud' drill, and just keep running."
Freshmen running backs Nathan Austin and Albert Williams ran for 49 and 27 yards on 13 and 10 carries, respectively, and walk-on Greg Friedman added 41 yards on nine carries. Austin scored three times in the red zone drills and added a pair of receptions for six yards in a workman-like effort.
Williams, however, had the highlight plays. He was twice caught behind the line of scrimmage on running plays, but turned a pair of screen passes into big gainers as he converted one short toss in the flat into a 62-yard gain down to the two-yard line and later added a 16-yard touchdown reception in the red zone.
"We have to evaluate the freshmen - the fullback and the two running backs as well," Toledo said. "We wanted to see what they could do running the football in a game-like situation. I think they're pretty good. The little guy (Williams), you don't know where he's going to end up. But it could be exciting. It could be a 15-yard loss or he could run for an 80-yard touchdown. The other kid (Austin) is a big physical guy, and the fullback (Kasey Stelly) blocks really well. I'm really pleased with not only those guys, but the freshmen class. I think we hit a home run on that group."
Converted tight end Cody Sparks posted three catches for 48 yards, and freshman Adam Krueger equaled Sparks' reception total while tallying 22 yards through the air. Freshman defensive back Ian Harson and sophomore defensive end Justin Adams paced the defense with seven tackles each. Senior defensive tackle Julian Shives-Sams, meanwhile, had two of the team's five sacks on the day.
The Green Wave return to action on Thursday, Aug. 21, when they hold their fourth two-a-day practice of preseason drills. The Tulane team will take the field at 9:30 a.m. before coming back out at 3:35 p.m. Tulane opens the 2008 season on Sept. 6, when it travels to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for a showdown with Alabama. From there, the Green Wave open the home portion of their schedule on Saturday, Sept. 13, when Tulane plays host to Conference USA opponent East Carolina in the Louisiana Superdome.
Season tickets for the 2008 Tulane football season are now on sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. For more information on 2008 Tulane football tickets or tickets to any future Green Wave home athletic event, contact the Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE.