Junior wide receiver Ryan Grant looks for running room after hauling in a pass during the Green Wave's final preseason practice on Saturday morning at the Westfeldt Facility.
Aug. 25, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - When the final horn sounded to signal the official close of the Tulane University football team's 2012 preseason camp on Saturday morning, first-year Green Wave head coach Curtis Johnson briefly met with his team and headed toward the flock of media to answer the usual barrage of questions.
After touching on a variety of subjects, the final question was a simple yet seemingly important one - is your team ready to play? Without batting an eye and with his trademark smile plastered on his face, Johnson had a simple and direct answer: "We've got to be."
Taking the final time before classes start on Monday, the Green Wave went through their usual assortment of drills and added a handful of wrinkles. The pressure was dialed up a bit with an extended blitz period and Johnson had the defense go through a pursuit session emphasizing all 11 players running toward the ball. In addition, the Tulane squad spent extensive time on special teams scenarios.
"I thought it was pretty good," Johnson said. "This was like a prerequisite of what we're going to do every week for the rest of the season. I thought we moved around well. We did a blitz drill. We had some pursuit going.
"The blitzes were pretty much the way they were supposed to be and they were able to do the things they were supposed to do. They were in the right gaps. Guys were covering the right guys. There weren't guys running wide open. Special teams wise, we wanted to do a little punt return and a little bit of PAT/field goal. The operations were sped up a lot since the first day we had done it, so that went pretty well also. Overall, it was a pleasing day."
The kicking unit enjoyed a solid day on Saturday as senior Stephen Purcell and junior Cairo Santos combined to convert all three PATs, junior Ryan Rome was true from 37 yards out, and Santos later split the uprights twice for 47-yard field goals.
On defense, the blitz got home several times to disrupt their offensive counterparts and that led to a handful of turnovers. Sophomore safety Sam Scofield, junior safety Kyle Davis and senior linebacker Darryl Farley all had interceptions, and freshman cornerback Lorenzo Doss broke up a pair of passes - including a near-interception on a long throw down the right sideline.
Offensively, senior quarterback Ryan Griffin did a nice job of spreading the ball around and making quick throws during the blitz drills, finding junior wide receiver Ryan Grant, sophomore tight end Evan Tatford and sophomore wideout Xavier Rush for sizeable gains. The catch of the day, however, came from redshirt-freshman Devin Boutte who, despite facing tight coverage from rookie corner Darion Monroe, was able to corral a deep pass from freshman signal caller Devin Powell down the left sideline.
"I'm very much excited," Johnson said. "I'm excited for these young men. Since I've gotten here, they've embraced the challenge, they've taken on responsibility, and they've done everything right. I'm just excited about this team and what we have the potential to do. I can't wait to get out there on Saturday."
The Green Wave return to practice on Monday, Aug. 27, and will begin their normal game-week preparation from there. All practices during the season are scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. and will be held at the Westfeldt Facility.
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.