Sophomore linebacker Nico Marley and the Green Wave defense battled through the heat on Thursday at Tad Gormley Stadium to post five pass break-ups, four tackles for loss, four interceptions and a forced fumble.
On Thursday morning at Tad Gormley Stadium, the Green Wave added another game-day condition - even if involuntarily - as the heat on the turf of the City Park facility reached nearly unbearable conditions. But while sweat poured from everyone from players to staff to media watching from the sideline, the team battled through the elements and turned in another praise-worthy performance, according to Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson.
"It was very, very hot," Johnson said. "I thought it was one of those testy-hot days. It was a mental preparation day for us. One of the things that we have to do is we have to learn to play in the heat. This was a good day to do that and I thought practice was pretty good. There weren't very many mental mistakes. We knew what we were doing and we knew where we were going. I definitely think the heat played a factor in today's practice."
While the offense continued to improve its rhythm and timing, the Green Wave defense took center stage on Thursday as the unit combined to tally four tackles for loss, four interceptions, five pass break-ups and a forced fumble during 7-on-7 and full-team drills.
Senior safety Brandon LeBeau, junior cornerback Lorenzo Doss, sophomore safety Leonard Davis and redshirt-freshman corner Parry Nickerson each had an interception on the day. Nickerson added a forced fumble and a pass break-up while Davis, sophomore linebacker Nico Marley, sophomore defensive tackle Tanzel Smart and freshman defensive lineman Sean Wilson tallied one tackle for loss apiece.
"The defense ran around pretty well," Johnson added. "We had some tackling issues and a couple of gap responsibilities, but we're still early on in this thing. The offense played pretty well. For a first-and-10 day and our first time out in this thing, they did well. I thought the quarterbacks threw the ball really well today."
The Green Wave return to the gridiron on Friday when they head to Airline Drive in Metairie for a closed practice at the New Orleans Saints Indoor Facility. Friday's practice is the first of three the Tulane team will hold in the pro setting as the team will go again on Saturday and Sunday mornings before the first day of classes University wide on Monday.
Tulane will kick off the 2014 season on Thursday, Aug. 28, when the Green Wave travel to Oklahoma to take on fellow American Athletic Conference newcomer 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.
NOTES FOLLOWING THURSDAY MORNING'S PRACTICE AT TAD GORMLEY STADIUM
Getting Acclimated: With the heat dominating the day at Tad Gormley Stadium, the Green Wave got a taste of what will be during the home portion of the 2014 schedule on Thursday morning. After playing in the climate-controlled comforts of the Superdome for the bulk of its home contests from 1975-2013, Tulane will return back to campus this season with the construction of Yulman Stadium. Since head coach Curtis Johnson took over the Green Wave program prior to the 2012 season, Tulane has played 16 of its 25 games indoors - 14 in the Superdome along with one each at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., and the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. In 2014, all 13 regular-season contests will be outdoors.
Player Of The Day: While an individual student-athlete has picked up this distinction in each of the Green Wave's previous preseason practice, Player of the Day honors on Thursday goes to the entire Tulane defense as the unit made play after play in the intense heat at Tad Gormley Stadium. By an unofficial count, the Green Wave's starting "D" tallied a combined four tackles for loss, four interceptions, five pass break-ups and a forced fumble during 7-on-7 and full-team drills.
Play Of The Day, Part I: As the Green Wave's No. 1 defense was fine tuning its formations and working on fundamentals against an offense composed primarily of reserves and the scout team, returning veterans Sam Scofield and Lorenzo Doss teamed up for a highlight-reel play which resulted in an interception. With freshman Glen Cuiellette directing the offense, Scofield showed some athleticism by jumping high in the air to tip a pass intended for senior wideout Devin Boutte. With the ball up for grabs, junior Lorenzo Doss left his man, pulled down the pigskin and would have had a long return on tap before whistles blew to mark the end of the play.
Play Of The Day, Part II: In an almost mirror image of the original Play of the Day, the secondary tandem of redshirt-freshman Parry Nickerson and sophomore safety Leonard Davis turned a big play which resulted in another turnover. Nickerson, who tallied two interceptions and nearly added a third a day ago at the New Orleans Saints Indoor Practice Facility, tipped a pass while Davis laid out to make a fingertip grab for the defense' final interception of the day.
Self-Imposed Penalty: While the defense was making play after play, junior cornerback Lorenzo Doss - who claimed All-America honors in 2013 - was upset with himself after seeing a potential interception bounce off his hands. Without as much as a whimper from the coaching staff and even though his defensive mates offered congratulations for breaking up a play, Doss immediately dropped to the turf and pounded out 10 push-ups. The impromptu calisthenics display is usually reserved for busted assignments or bad plays, but Doss let his own disappointment predicate the action and later bounced back to break up two more passes later in the day.
Quote of the Day: "Alright. Now that sounded like football. Good job." - Tulane assistant coach John McDonell to the offensive line after a particularly loud, pad-popping running play during 9-on-7 drills.