Tulane running back Sherman Badie pronounced himself 100-percent ready to play Friday night against Cincinnati after participating fully in practice Tuesday morning.
Badie, a redshirt freshman from John Curtis, injured a foot during the fourth quarter of the Green Wave’s 20-13 loss to UCF on Oct. 18 and did not return. He was limited in practice in Tulane’s two workouts during its open week, but the time off helped.
“I feel excellent,” Badie said after Tuesday’s practice. “I’m ready to get out there and play out Friday. It wasn’t a bad injury. It wasn’t serious at all. I wouldn’t even call it an injury. I’m a hundred percent.”
Coach Curtis Johnson backed up Badie’s assessment.
“Sherman’s definitely full and ready to go,” Johnson said. “Sherman got a little shaken up at the end of that (UCF) game, but I probably could have put him back in. If you watch, he was standing next to me. I just thought Lazedrick (Thompson) was battering them pretty good and we were running very well at the end.”
Badie has rushed for a team-high 582 yards on 88 carries (6.6 average), but he was less effective than normal against UCF, finishing with 48 yards on 14 attempts while Thompson gained 63 yards on 12 carries. Badie promised better numbers against Cincinnati.
“There were a few things we needed to work on, and that’s what we did in the bye week and this week of practice,” he said. “I feel like we’re going to come out and have a great game Friday night.”
Tulane is averaging 164.7 yards on the ground, a significant improvement on the last few years. Cincinnati allows 213.7 rushing yards per game, the second-worst total in the American Athletic Conference.
Opportunities for big plays should be there for Badie, who already has ripped off runs of 90, 86 and 73 this season.
“Sometimes on the sidelines they call a play (for Badie), and I’ll say this might go for 90 yards, and it goes for 90 yards,” quarterback Tanner Lee said. “It’s just nice to have somebody who can get you out of a hole when you’re backed up. He opens up the offense so much.”
Freshman kicker Andrew DiRocco, who has hit three of his past four field goals after missing four of his first five, is enjoying his best week of practice.
On Monday, he connected from 20, 28, 35 and 50 yards during field goal work, missing only a 45-yarder.
On Tuesday, he was wide left on a 40-yarder but made all of his other kicks, including a 49-yarder. He also made a field goal during a two-minute drill and split the uprights from 38 yards out on a drill in which the kicking team had to run on the field and get off a kick in 10 seconds.
Still, Johnson wants DiRocco to be tougher when he has to adjust to bad snaps.
“Everything’s not going to be perfect,” Johnson said. “If the snap is a little bit bad, just go through your same motions and kick. Former Tulane kicker (Cairo) Santos kicked a 50-something yarder the other night (for the Kansas City Chiefs) and the snap was horrid.”
Scholarship long snapper Mike Lizanich has resumed that role full-time after missing three games with a pulled hamstring. He returned against UCF when his backup, Matt Marfisi, sent a snap over punter Peter Picerelli’s head.
“He’s been pretty good in practice,” Johnson said of Lizanich. “I’ve always felt comfortable with him.”
Tulane tied for sixth nationally with 19 interceptions last year and is tied for 19th this season with 10.
Getting picks is a primary point of emphasis in practice. On Tuesday, Johnson ripped reserve defensive back Tristan Cooper when he knocked down a deep pass on the sideline instead of trying to catch it.
“Intercept the ball,” Johnson screamed.
Linebackers Matthew Bailey and Eric Thomas then dropped interception opportunities in quick succession. The mistakes forced the defense to spend extra time on the field at the end of practice working on catching the ball.
“They didn’t catch enough interceptions in practice,” Johnson said. “Those defensive coaches have set high standards.”