Freshman quarterback Devin Powell makes a throw downfield during a recent Tulane football practice.
Aug. 21, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - The countdown to the Green Wave's regular-season opener is drawing closer and first-year head coach Curtis Johnson brought his team to its home stadium as the Tulane University football team held its 17th practice of the preseason in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Tuesday morning.
Donning full gear, Johnson had his team go through drills with the play clock running and on the same turf the Wave will take when they open the 2012 campaign against Rutgers on Sept. 1. Taking the field in a climate-controlled atmosphere and without the heat and humidity associated with the weather outside in late August, the Green Wave spent a large portion of the day focusing on special teams and the squad closed things out with seven drives in the redzone.
"It was our first day in the Dome and I think we got the guys excited again," Johnson said. "They're out of the sun. We played situation football again today and it looked much better today than it did yesterday.
"Special teams is going pretty good. We're just trying to figure out who's playing where and what, but it's going good. The kickers kicked the ball real well - good hang time today and they kicked it where we want them to kick it at. We felt that today was a good day indoors that we could get a lot of special teams work done."
The offense got a couple of scores and mixed in a handful of highlight-reel plays throughout the day. Senior quarterback Ryan Griffin connected with junior wide receiver Ryan Grant for an 11-yard score, hit junior running back Derrick Strozier for another touchdown and found sophomore wideout Xavier Rush for a 13-yard TD strike.
Sophomore Rob Kelley and freshman Josh Rounds showed nice burst and shiftiness during running plays and sophomore tight end Evan Tatford had a couple of nice grabs for sizeable gains. Rookie signal caller Devin Powell found Marc Edwards for a 20-yard touchdown strike, but the day was dominated by the defense.
Senior cornerbacks Kendrick Washington and Alex Lauricella both had diving pass break-ups while junior linebacker Logan Hamilton added a PBU, junior defensive tackle Julius Warmsley posted a sack and senior defensive end Austen Jacks had a sack and forced fumble.
Freshman corner Darion Monroe had a pair of interceptions on the day - a one-hander in down-and-distance drills and another on a tip-drill during the final red-zone period - and the defense held their offensive counterparts in five-of-seven drives starting from the 20 late in the session.
"The defense is playing very well," Johnson said. "Right now, it's easier for them to get into and out of stuff. We're a little bit banged up on offense, but the big thing about offense is execution and we executed pretty well today."
Tulane returns to action on Wednesday, Aug. 22, when the team holds its final two-a-day practice of the preseason with a morning session at the Westfeldt Practice Facility and an evening practice at the Saints Facility in Metairie. From there, the Wave will hold single practices on campus on Thursday and Friday before closing out preseason camp with a scrimmage on Saturday.
"The rest of the week, we'll go back and do some third-down and some two-minute (drills)," Johnson added. "We'll get in a good special teams period tomorrow and then we'll lay it back a little bit. We'll play a mock game and we'll do some of those things."
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.