Tulane football coach Willie Fritz on Saturday was quick to point out his favorite development after the Green Wave finished its second week of preseason camp with a scrimmage that featured live tackling for the second consecutive day.
No one got seriously hurt Friday morning in the New Orleans Saints' indoor facility or Saturday morning at Yulman Stadium.
“Probably the best thing about the scrimmage is we got out of it healthy,” he said. “It was just good for the defense, being able to play with leverage and tackle and get guys to the ground. We’re not going to have very many of these opportunities. I don’t want to go from having good depth to not having depth.”
The highlight Saturday was a picture-perfect pass from first-string quarterback Jonathan Banks to wide receiver Jacob Robertson, who beat freshman cornerback Jaylon Monroe down the sideline and ran under the ball in stride, coasting into the end zone for a 53-yard touchdown.
The offense did not have many other significant gains in his stint, but Fritz liked what he saw from Banks as a passer and a runner after giving lukewarm reviews of his quarterback’s play earlier in the week.
“I saw some good things,” he said. “Banks had a good day today. A lot of times, the defense thinks they made the tackle (because Banks and backup Johnathan Brantley are off limits to hitting), but maybe they didn’t. I don’t know if they would have tackled Banks on a bunch of those.”
That question was answered by freshmen Khalil McClain and Dane Ledford in the first Tulane scrimmage in seemingly forever allowing any quarterbacks to be hit. Ledford had the longest play, hooking up with wideout D.J. Owens on a wobbly deep ball, but McClain earned higher praise in the competition for third string.
“McClain showed a lot of poise for a true freshman,” Fritz said. “He’s a big guy, and he’s fast.”
Freshman Corey Dublin of Jesuit held onto his spot with the first-team offensive line after Friday’s scrimmage, continuing to work at left guard Saturday.
Dublin (6-foot-4, 290 pounds) ascended to the top spot after coaches reviewed video last Sunday, and he remained there all week.
“I’m being tough, playing hard and going all the way through the whistle,” he said. “Showing a lot of effort has helped me out a lot, and the older guys have really been helping me with the plays and where to go and how to do everything.”
Dublin signed with Tulane after a last-minute offer from Georgia Tech this February. If he holds onto his position, he will be the first true freshman offensive lineman to start a season opener for Tulane since Andrew Nierman in 2007.
“He’s done a great job,” Fritz said. “He’s tough, he’s knowledgeable and he’s been well coached.”
Junior-college transfer Dominique Briggs was the first-team right guard Saturday, supplanting 2016 starter Leeward Brown.
It's a snap
With Miami graduate transfer Hunter Knighton injured, the Wave has struggled to find a reliable shotgun snapper in practice other than starter Junior Diaz.
After Briggs blew too many snaps, Fritz put starting left tackle John Leglue in that role late this week. Leglue started nine games at center a year ago after Diaz suffered a season-ending broken ankle.
Snapping is taken for granted until someone messes up, but if Diaz stays healthy, Tulane should be fine.
“I’ve been snapping since I was 4 years old,” he said. “The more you do it, the better you’ll be, so it’s just like second nature to me at this point.”
Tulane will take off Sunday, returning to practice Monday morning. … Senior Luke Jackson was a first-team weakside linebacker in both scrimmages in the absence of Zach Harris, who missed four straight practices to rest a bothersome knee. … Senior Quinlan Carroll has the edge as the starting pass rusher opposite Ade Aruna. … Tulane will nominate Leglue for the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award. … Fritz on the National World War II Museum, which the Wave visited Thursday: “It was outstanding. If the film (they show) doesn’t get you proud to be an American, nothing will.”