It’s not exactly a kicker-by-committee, but Tulane coach Curtis Johnson said he understands the options at his disposal.
Just days after freshman Andrew DiRocco connected on the biggest kick of his career — a 38-yard, fourth-quarter field goal in Tulane’s 12-3 win over Connecticut — Johnson said there’s still some intrigue at the position. It’s just a lot less than it was at this time last week.
He reopened the position before the UConn game because DiRocco had missed four of his five attempts, all of which were within 36 yards. But in the end, the freshman beat out walk-on Steven Broccoli and kickoff specialist Trevor Simms.
“The kicking situation is simple,” Johnson said. “We opened it up and DiRocco made a big field goal for us and probably put the game on ice. That was big-time achievement for him because we all know the struggles he’s had, since they are very well-chronicled.”
On Tuesday, however, Johnson also saw the opportunity to add some distance to the Green Wave’s kicking game. Simms, a baseball player who joined the team midway through the second week of the season and served exclusively in a kickoff role, drilled a 45-yard field goal in practice with plenty of room to spare.
However, unlike DiRocco, he missed wide right on attempts from 20, 32 and 39 yards. But his leg strength gives Tulane another option.
“I like Simms,” Johnson said. “We tried him out today and he made some, but he missed badly on some, so we have to get his accuracy down.”
If the time is right during Saturday’s 11 a.m. game at Central Florida, Johnson said Simms could get the call.
“I wouldn’t be afraid to (use Simms),” Johnson said. “If there’s a long one and it’s for the win, I’m going to put him in.”
There was a reason defensive line coach Kwahn Drake ran nearly 40 yards and wouldn’t let go of cornerback Lorenzo Doss following his interception last week.
“That was the highest I’ve ever seen Drake jump,” Johnson said. “I didn’t think that a big guy could jump that high. I don’t know if you saw the play live. It was the most fantastic interception because (Doss) kind of just threw his hand out and the ball just stuck to his hand.
“It was amazing. Lorenzo is a former receiver, but it was one of those plays that you can’t do justice to unless you see it up close.”
It was the second interception in two weeks for the preseason All-America cornerback, who is now tied as the NCAA’s active leader in career interceptions (14). After undergoing his longest turnover drought to start the season (four games), Doss said the unlikely play he made along the Tulane sideline was a welcome sign that turnovers are starting to come easier.
It was the first of three takeaways in the game, including a pair of fumble recoveries by safety Darion Monroe.
“I thought I had a chance to knock it down, so I broke on the route,” Doss said. “But I really only got a hand on the top of the ball. It’s like I just caught the top of the ball, and I’m not sure I’ve ever done that — but once it got it there, I wasn’t going to let it go. Then coach Drake was absolutely hyped and almost tackled me and ran me down the field.”
Johnson’s wife, Angel Johnson, underwent surgery on her trachea Tuesday and is expected to recover in a few days. Curtis Johnson joked he was adding her to his injury report. ... Johnson said officials informed Tulane that at least two penalties against the Green Wave last Saturday should have been rescinded. Monroe’s unnecessary roughness for hitting a quarterback at the end of a slide and Leondre James’ holding penalty during an outside run were both deemed to be legal in retrospect. ... The broadcast of Saturday’s game at UCF will be broadcast on ESPNU, the Green Wave’s first appearance on that network this season.