New Orleans -- The 15th and final spring practice for Tulane football showcased all their work from the past 5 weeks in their spring game on Saturday. The first two drives for the Green Wave were all about the defense, as Sam Bruchhaus came-up with the scoop and score off the fumble on the second play from scrimmage. Then it was Will Harper on the next drive, picking-off Keon Howard for another one of the 4 turnovers the defense had in the game.
"Well you know when you're going against each other, you're happy with one side and you're not happy with the other," said Tulane Head Football Coach Willie Fritz. "Poor ball security on a couple of plays but it was good transitioning from being a defender to being an offensive player."
"I feel like we did a pretty good job today," said Tulane Defensive End Patrick Johnson. "We had a few mistakes here and there. We had a lot of young guys come in. They learned and did a good job."
After those few offensive hiccups, Justin McMillan's pass to Amare Jones for the 18-yard score, got them in a groove with their new-look offense led by their new offensive coordinator Will Hall.
"We turned the ball over, which is inexcusable," Hall said. "But after that I feel like we made some explosive plays. What I'm really proud of this spring as a whole is we had 15 practices but really over the course of 5 weeks, the meetings, the way the kids have responded. We're way better today than we were when we started."
McMillian tossed a great ball to Darnell Mooney for a 50-yard gain to the 14, and then got them into the endzone two plays later, hitting Jalen McCleskey for the 10-yard score.
"Our mindset toward this season is obviously very aggressive and we feel confident with ourselves," McMillan said.
McMillan and transfer quarterback Keon Howard split time in the first quarter, with Howard making some plays too. Howard hit Stephon Huderson for the 36-yard score, and then later in the quarter, Howard showed-off his wheels, on a 34-yard touchdown run. But through the highlights and executing plays in a game-like setting, Coach Fritz knows they've still got a long way to go before the season starts.
"We're not close to being in game shape," Fritz said. "That's one of the things we really work on in the summer. During the January, February, March, the off-season training program, we're trying to get bigger, stronger, quicker, faster. The endurance and stamina part we're not really working-on as much. So we limited our guys' play count. But today some of the guys had 8-9 play drives and I could tell they were a little winded so we've obviously got to get in better shape but we know that."
That first test for Tulane is now about 4 months out, when they host FIU on Thursday August 29th.