Five players to watch during Tulane’s spring football practice _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Tulane wide receiver Devon Breaux (8) makes a key reception in the second quarter of the Tulane-UL-Lafayette R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Saturday in the Mercedes Benz Superdome.

It wasn’t without controversy, but junior receiver Devon Breaux got plenty of attention in Tulane’s scrimmage on Saturday afternoon.

He snagged a pair of long passes from quarterback Tanner Lee, including a touchdown in red zone drills and a 47-yarder agains the first-team defense.

“It’s been a renaissance, and since (former receivers coach and current Nebraska assistant) Keith Williams left, Devon Breaux has really picked it,” Tulane coach Curtis Johnson joked following the scrimmage. “But seriously, he is playing great.”

On the first-team offense’s second drive, Breaux sprinted behind the defense on a fly route and laid out on his chest to make a sprawled-out, diving catch. But, after reaching the 3-yard line, Breaux leapt off the turf and did a celebratory spin of the football.

It elicited a flag, and a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, which caused Johnson to erupt.

“Devon acted like he was almost surprised he did it,” Johnson said. “Act like you’ve been there before. Don’t just be surprised. Act like you do that all of the time.”

On his next possession, Breaux redeemed himself, cutting between defenders in the back of the end zone and turning at the exact right time to haul in an 18-yard touchdown pass from Lee.

“He’s a great receiver,” Lee said. “I’m very comfortable with him out there. ... It was good timing and it worked out well.”

Laying low

Tulane didn’t display its full arsenal at Yulman Stadium, since Johnson chose to sit an array of established starters who he felt who didn’t have to prove anything on Saturday.

Cornerback Parry Nickerson and safety Darion Monroe stayed mostly on the sidelines as did running backs Sherman Badie, Lazedrick Thompson and Dontrell Hilliard.

“I was trying to keep them fresh and healthy because the last scrimmage, we had Lazedrick ran real well and Sherman and Dontrell ran real well,” Johnson said. “So I wanted to get a look at Robert Kelley and (Josh Rounds). I thought Kelley was outstanding. Rounds has some work to do.”

Linebacker Nico Marley only took one snap after he was berated by Johnson for flexing after making a tackle on the first play of goal line drills and got flagged for taunting.

“Marley got me ticked,” Johnson said. “He was warned already about doing the muscleman pose. He’s 5-foot-2. He doesn’t have muscles, so just play ball and go unassuming.

“The same official who called him for that during season, called it again. So I just went ahead and benched him for the rest of the scrimmage.”

Jacquet jumps

Todd Jacquet participated with the first-team offensive line, jumping Kenneth Santa Marina on the depth chart at right tackle.

After starting three games in 2013, Jacquet redshirted last season and is now trying to fill the only position on the offensive line not occupied by a two-year starter.

“I’m always trying to make an impression and it is good to be out there with the ones,” Jacquet said. “I just want to do what’s expected of me. I felt good, there’s always room for improvement, but I feel like I’ve been having a good camp.”

Despite playing next to four established starters, Johnson said he think Jacquet has shined.

“I thought he was outstanding,” Johnson said. “He’s been, maybe, the best one overall at camp. He’s just playing. We don’t give up any sacks, and we run the ball well.”

Kicking in

Freshman kicker Steven Logan may have given himself a chance to win the job on Saturday, converting nearly all of his field goal attempts in a sight that Johnson has waited all of preseason camp for.

He’s competing against three other specialists for the role, including incumbent starter Andrew DiRocco and scholarship freshman kicker Zachary Block. But it’s Logan, a walk-on, who caught Johnson’s eye by making both of his attempts from 37 yards and an extra point on Saturday.

“This young kicker now, I hate starting a freshman again, but golly, this is the guy who makes all of them,” Johnson said. “I like what he’s doing, and he just has to continue it and I’ll play Logan.”