Aug. 20, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University football team opened its final week of the 2012 preseason with the first half of a double-session on Monday morning at the Westfeldt Practice Facility.
The defense, which gave up 139 rushing yards during Saturday's scrimmage, came out with a vengeance early on and made life difficult for its offensive mates. The offense, meanwhile, settled in late and was able to find its rhythm late in the morning practice to help even things out. The Green Wave will hold the second half of its two-a-day practice this afternoon in a closed session at the New Orleans Saints' facility in Metairie.
"I thought things went real well," first-year head coach Curtis Johnson said of the morning practice. "I think the defense was a little ticked off during (Saturday's) scrimmage because we ran the ball well on them. They came out today with vigor and the ambition to prove us wrong. They had a great day today.
"What we wanted to do today was play the game a little bit. We wanted to get everybody off the field. We wanted to do some substitutions and get them in and out of the huddle. It really went well for the first time in a non-scrimmage situation, but this time we wanted to concentrate on switching personnel groups. I thought the offense picked it up. They came back. We're doing a good job of running the ball and I like the way we ran it."
Early on, the defensive line got plenty of penetration to disrupt both the passing and running game. In addition to a handful of big hits, the defense caused several false starts and got a big interception by senior safety Shakiel Smith. As the day progressed, the offense changed the tempo a bit and used the defense's aggression to its advantage by mixing in draw plays and screen passes.
Senior quarterback Ryan Griffin hooked up with junior running back Derrick Strozier for a 35-yard catch and run on a middle screen, freshman running back Josh Rounds hit the hole quickly for a sizeable gain around right end, and sophomore back Robert Kelley dealt out a big hit of his own by bowling over freshman defensive back Jordan Batiste out of the I-formation.
"Now, we're getting ready for the games," Johnson added. "Our first game is 10 days away. We're trying to back off a little bit and let them get their legs. I want them ready and fresh for the game."
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 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.