Senior quarterback Ryan Griffin enjoyed a solid day as the Green Wave offense took center stage during Wednesday's morning's practice at the Westfeldt Facility.
Aug. 22, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - At the midway point of the final week of preseason practice, first-year Tulane head football coach Curtis Johnson decided his team needed a break from the routine.
After watching the offense turn in several high-five moments during the morning session at the Westefeldt Practice Facility, Johnson loaded his team on buses for what they assumed would be the second half of a two-a-day practice at the New Orleans Saints facility in Metairie. Instead, the buses pulled into Rock `n' Bowl on South Carrollton Avenue - a local hotspot known for its combination of bowling alley and live musicians - for a little relaxation and team bonding.
"Today, I've got a special surprise," Johnson said. "I've got a treat for the guys. I'm going to take them somewhere and have a little team-unity thing going. It'll be fun. Tomorrow, we'll play a mock game. We'll play a fake game so that we can know what we're doing, how we're going to come out the tunnel, the things we're going to do in pregame, and then we're going to play the game. We'll go through all the situations and that'll help us for our game next Saturday."
While the team enjoyed a relaxing afternoon, the morning practice was much different as the intensity level was as high as ever. The defense made its share of plays on Wednesday with sophomore linebacker Matthew Bailey forcing a fumble that was recovered by freshman cornerback Lorenzo Doss, junior linebacker Zach Davis coming up with a big sack, and junior linebacker Logan Hamilton logging an interception.
The day, however, belonged to the offense and the quarterbacks in particular. Senior quarterback Ryan Griffin - who is entering his fourth season as the Green Wave's starter - connected with sophomore Xavier Rush for a handful of long gains, including a 35-yard touchdown down the middle of the field.
Ponder, who rejoined the team midway through camp after spending the summer playing professional baseball for the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League, has seen his timing with his receivers improve as practice has progressed and made several nice throws on Wednesday.
The play of the day, however, came from freshman signal-caller Devin Powell. After a brief team meeting quickly explaining the college football overtime rules, Powell took the second of two snaps in the period at the 20-yard line and lofted a high spiral toward the right corner of the endzone. Rush, who faced double-coverage on the play, timed his leap perfectly and won the wrestling match for the score.
"The offense looked sharp today," Johnson said. "I thought Ryan Griffin was magnificent today. Even the plays that weren't supposed to be, he made something out of all of them. He's starting to function well in our offense - real well. I thought Powell had a pretty decent day. He made some throws again today. He'll make throws every day. It's just a case of how much information he can retain. D.J. is doing well also. I like all three of those guys. We've got three good quarterbacks."
The Green Wave return to action on Thursday when they head to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for a dress rehearsal for gameday. From there, Tulane will hold a single practice on Friday at the Westfeldt Facility before closing out preseason camp on Saturday. Thursday's practice will be closed to the public and media while both Friday and Saturday's sessions will be open.
"We're starting to get an idea of where we want guys and who we want," Johnson added. "We questioned those safeties and they're starting to respond. The offensive line is starting to come into form, and we've got a wide variety of different personnel groups so we can take advantage of how we want things to go."
Tulane formally kicks off the 2012 season on Saturday, Sept. 1, when the Wave play 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.