Football Turns Focus To Regular-Season Opener

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Junior running back Josh Rounds looks for additional yardage during a recent Green Wave practice.
Junior running back Josh Rounds looks for additional yardage during a recent Green Wave practice.
Aug. 20, 2014

Video Interview With Coach Johnson
Video Interview With RB J.Rounds
Video Interview With CB P.Nickerson

NEW ORLEANS - With the 2014 season opener just around the corner, the Tulane University football team began turning its collective attention to the upcoming game against former Conference USA and fellow American Athletic Conference newcomer Tulsa as the Green Wave went through another preseason practice on Wednesday morning at the New Orleans Saints Facility.

The majority of the key position battles have been settled, including naming redshirt-freshman Tanner Lee the team's starting quarterback last Monday, and the coaching staff began implementing the game plan for the game against the Golden Hurricane as the Wave took the gridiron donning full pads in the comforts of the climate-controlled indoor practice field on Airline Drive.

"I think we're still preparing," Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said. "This Tulsa team is a very, very good football team. Coach Blankenship, he always has his team prepared so we have to get our things together. We've got the game plan out, we're giving it to the players a little bit at a time, and they're starting to pick some stuff up.

"We've pretty much got all of those positions taken care of. There are some things we're doing by committee and in some areas we have just lone starters."

After pushing hard through individual, positional and 7-on-7 drills, the Wave held a new session on Wednesday with the No. 1 offense going up against the No. 1 defense while the twos and threes took turns going head to head as well. Tulane also held an extended special teams drill focusing on all aspects of kickoff return and kickoff coverage as well as PAT/field goal scenarios.

The Green Wave return to the gridiron on Thursday when they hit the turf of Tad Gormley Stadium for an open-media practice at 8:30 a.m. From there, the Tulane team will hold consecutive closed sessions at the Saints Indoor Facility on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.



Tulane will kick off the 2014 season on Thursday, Aug. 28, when the Green Wave travel to Oklahoma to take on Tulsa at 7 p.m. on the CBS Sports Network before opening the home portion of the schedule on Saturday, Sept. 6, against Georgia Tech at 3 p.m. in the new, on-campus Yulman Stadium in front of a national audience on ESPNews.

For season ticket information, which features packages starting as low as $200, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE (9283). 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.


Picking Teams: While some position battles are still ongoing, the bulk of the starting spots have been decided and the coaching staff held a session during Wednesday's practice with the No. 1 offense squaring off against the No. 1 defense as well as matchups of 2s vs 2s and 3s vs 3s. The biggest offseason battle for the Green Wave was at quarterback where redshirt-freshman Tanner Lee emerged atop the depth chart and was officially named the starter last Monday. Another big hold Tulane was looking to fill was at defensive tackle where junior Corey Redwine and sophomore Tanzel Smart were tabbed to replace the graduated Chris Davenport and Julius Warmsley.

Player Of The Day: Redshirt-freshman cornerback Parry Nickerson has been making up for lost time during preseason camp and Wednesday was no different as the native of nearby Terrytown made several big plays. After seeing time in the 2013 season opener, Nickerson missed the final 12 games with a knee injury but showed little effects of the setback on the day with a pair of interceptions and nearly came up with a third when breaking on a come-back route only to see the ball bounce off his outstretched hands.

Play Of The Day: Nickerson's first interception of the day was by far the most impressive in a one-on-one matchup with junior wide receiver Thomas Vaughan. Vaughan ran a good route and was in good position to pull down a potential touchdown pass, but Nickerson reached over the top of the intended receiver and snared the pass. While Vaughan was vocally recognized for running a good route by his position coach, several players in both the offensive and defensive huddles remarked on how impressive Nickerson's catch was.

More Focus On Special Teams: As has become the norm of late, the Green Wave spent an extended portion of Wednesday's practice focusing on special teams. Tulane started by running through a series of kickoff and kickoff return drills, held various PAT and field goal attempts with live defense pursuing a block, and worked on on-side kick coverage as well. With several student-athletes vying for various roles, it was all hands on deck as players constantly rotated on and off the field and from one side of the return/coverage game to the other.

Getting Their Kicks: The kicking tandem of junior Steven Broccoli and freshman Andrew DiRocco had solid days on Wednesay and combined to go 5-of-6 from various distances during PAT/field goals drills. The duo both connected from 20 and 27 yards out while DiRocco split the uprights from 32 yards away for a field goal that would have been good from much further back.

Quote of the Day: "Get square, Rounds." - Tulane assistant coach Keith Williams, ironically, to junior running back Josh Rounds when the third-year player was working on a punt return drill.