Redshirt-freshman left tackle Pete Hendrickson sustains a block during Tuesday's two-a-day practice at the Westfeldt Practice Facility.
Aug. 21, 2007
NEW ORLEANS, La. - The Tulane University football team went through it second two-a-day practice of fall drills and new head coach Bob Toledo commended the Green Wave offense as enjoying their best performance of the preseason Tuesday at the Westfeldt Practice Facility.
The Green Wave went through an 18-session practice in the morning and retook the field at 3:35 p.m. for another 24 periods. While the defense had been gathering the lion's share of praise in recent practices, Tuesday was the offense's turn according to Toledo and his staff.
"This morning, I thought it was the sharpest our offense has been," Toledo said. "We had a record number of completions today, and that pleased me. But on the other side, defensively, that means they're giving up passes. As I told the other coaches, as a head coach I'm pleased because one day our offense does something and the defense does something the next day.
"It obviously stems from some motivation, too. When the defense does well and the offense doesn't, those coaches get on those players and they step it up a little bit. Then motivation-wise and intensity-wise, they get ahead of the other group. And it's been going back and forth. As a head coach, I'm pleased because both sides are doing good things."
One of the main reasons for the overall improvement of the offense on Tuesday was the play of the offensive line, which opened some big holes in running drills and gave the Green Wave quarterbacks some nice pockets to step up into during passing drills. The interior of the line consists of a trio of veterans with senior Aryan Barto at center and the duo of juniors Michael Parenton and Troy Kropog at right and left guard, respectively.
The tackle positions, meanwhile, are manned by a pair of relatively inexperienced players as sophomore Nick Landry - who played in eight games, including one start, last season as a true freshman - and redshirt-freshman Pete Hendrickson. While the learning curve for the underclassmen has been a steep one, Toledo was pleased with their progress as a unit.
"I think they're becoming a unit," Toledo said of the o-line. "The more they play together, learn each other's moves and communicate with each other, the better they're going to get. Our stronger guys are our center and two guards, so the strength is not as good there as I'd like (at tackle). (Our tackles) are young and they don't understand intensity and finishing plays at times, and that's what they have to get better at. But overall, they're improving."
Another factor in the offense's performance on Tuesday is the healthy return of receivers Jeremy Williams and Brian King. Williams missed practice time last week with a slight shoulder injury and King suffered a dislocated toe on Saturday, but the tandem was back on the field going 100 percent and both had their share of nice grabs during team drills.
"We're pleased with the progress we're making," Toledo said. "We're trying to get better in all phases - offense, defense and special teams. We're emphasizing them all, we're working extremely hard and we're banging them pretty hard. We're having some pretty physical practices out here and our kids are responding to what we're trying to do. As a coach, that's what you want."
The Tulane team returns to practice on Wednesday, Aug. 22, with a single practice from 3:35-6 p.m. and the squad will hold another two-a-day on Thursday. From there, the Green Wave will have another single practice on Friday before having their third two-a-day session of the week on Saturday.
The Green Wave open the 2007 season on Saturday, Sept. 8, when Tulane takes on Mississippi State at 6 p.m. in the Louisiana Superdome. Season tickets remain on sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. For ticket information, visit the ticket office on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center, by phone at 504-861-WAVE or on-line at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.