Smiles were abound on the artificial turf of Yulman Stadium as the “all-up” whistle blew on Sunday morning at 10:02 a.m.. Some of the grins came from knowing the Tulane football spring camp had come to an end.
Over the Green Wave’s 15 practice days during the offseason, the Tulane team has been upbeat and the coaching staff constantly praised the players for their retention of the playbook. In addition, the intensity during spring practice may have been at an all-time high during the Curtis Johnson era and Sunday’s session was no different.
“I thought it was good,” Johnson said. “I was very pleased with today. The defense came out and they really set the tempo. They ran around well. They were physical. We had a good blitz period today. They came off and they had a good option period. Nico Marley was everywhere. (Darion) Monroe was everywhere. Sean Wilson looked good now that he’s back. It was a good practice for us.”
In the final official practice of the spring, the Green Wave went through the usual array of individual and position drills, while going through seven-on-seven, special teams, option and full-team scenarios.
On offense, Tulane returns four of its five starting offensive linemen, three running backs, who each ran for 100-plus yards in a game during the 2014 campaign, five of the top-seven receivers, and quarterback Tanner Lee, who started 10 games a year ago.
With so many returning veterans, Johnson was quick to give praise to the unit for the work it put in during the fall and was pleased with the overall improvement.
“The efficiency of the offense is so much better,” Johnson said. “We still have to be efficient with Tanner (Lee).
Defensively, the Green Wave are expected to return three defensive linemen, two linebackers and half of the secondary from 2014. In addition, Tulane welcomed back redshirt-sophomore linebacker/nickelback Jarrod Franklin, who missed last season with a knee injury.
One of the biggest battles during the spring came at defensive end, where sophomore Ade Aruna and Daren Williams have battled for the spot left by graduating senior Tyler Gilbert.
And now that spring practice is over, Johnson was wasted little time on what his team will focus on between now and the start of fall practice in August.
“The main thing is to get the academic stuff together,” Johnson added. “We have to get bigger, faster and stronger. This is a tough league. We have a tough schedule, especially early on.”