Tulane’s first preseason football training had many similarities to most of the other coaches that Willie Fritz has been involved with in the past 40 years – enthusiastic and neglectful.
This is the norm when a team enters the field for the first time since the end of the spring drills.
“It’s always exciting to come out and go out on the pitch and play real football,” said Fritz. “It was great fun to see the improvement the guys have made over the summer and to see the retention of what we’re trying to do. It was a great workout, but we have a lot to clean up. The new guys aren’t quite sure how we do things on and off the court (the court quickly between reps) and put their mouths in every play and the finishing plays, but we’ll get there.
The Green Wave has 121 players on the roster, including an unofficial number of 87 scholarship recipients as they attempt to take another step forward after back-to-back six-losing bowl seasons.
“We were very close last season to have a breakthrough year for Tulane, and we just know we all need to improve,” said Fritz. “I’m delighted to be able to play 15-20 guys on offense and 15-20 guys on defense, and these will be guys who will be playing the kicking game exclusively.”
Friday’s practice began at 7:30 a.m., an hour earlier than in the past, and ended at 9:25 a.m.
“We’re trying to beat the heat,” Fritz said. “Really, it was a very beautiful morning. “
Fritz added that the wave would have a few scrimmages at 11 a.m. to match the start time of its Sept. 4 opener against Oklahoma at Yulman Stadium, allowing players to get used to the heat.
Transfer Shae Wyatt, who tallied 1,412 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns for Division II Central Missouri in 2019, had a few reps with the first team as wide receiver during his opening practice. He caught a touchdown in the corner of the end zone of backup quarterback Justin Ibieta during a red zone drill.
Fritz, Central Missouri coach from 1997 to 2009, admitted he was hesitant to sign Wyatt when he entered the transfer portal and contacted Tulane, fearing it would affect his friendship with the current coach. from Central Missouri, Jim Svoboda. After talking to Svoboda, he moved all-in on Wyatt.
“He has incredible hand-eye coordination and rides some great routes,” said Fritz. “The Missouri center plays in the best Division II league in the country by far, in my opinion. There will be an adjustment (from Division II to FBS), but not as big an adjustment as some might think. “
Two other graduate transfers worked primarily with the second team in their first practice with the Wave – defensive end Jojo Dorceus (Memphis) and nickelback DJ Douglas (Alabama).
Second-year players Rashad Green and Matt Lombardi trained with the first team’s offensive line on right guard and right tackle, respectively, for much of the morning. Green was a three-game substitute last year and Lombardi didn’t play, but both got rave reviews from Fritz in the spring. Holy Cross product Josh Remetich, who started the first four games a year ago, became the first team right guard later in training. … Substitute center Michael Remondet and substitute linebacker Matthew Hightower, both in spring training, are no longer on the squad. Caleb Thomas, who moved to center goalie last season and started four times, returned to center on Friday to support Sincere Haynesworth.