After the Spring Game on Saturday, Tulane fans got the most in-depth look at the Green Wave as we head into the second year of the Fritz Era.
Coach Fritz spoke to the media today to discuss his team, and he seemed to have spring ball in the rear view with a pretty positive outlook for his program. Here are six things we heard.
Fritz said he was impressed with the development of both Glenn Cuiellette and Johnathan Brantley, but JUCO transfer Jonathan Banks has put his name on the top of the depth chart:
Jonathan Banks is going to start preseason camp as our number one quarterback. He did a good job this spring. He picked things up. We evaluated practice one through fifteen, and I thought for a guy who came into a new situation, he did a very good job. He provides us with a passing and a running threat, and in our offense, that is what we need to have.
In terms of what set him apart, Banks has given Fritz confidence by picking up on the offense quickly.
He ran quite a bit of what we are doing in junior college. They called it more of a West Coast offense but he was running some zone read and running the ball. That's one of the reasons we were excited about it. He's a little bit disappointed in his performance in the spring game but he looked good in a lot of our practices... We have 70-80% of our offense in right now, and that's pretty good for a guy who is brand new to the system.
There has been some commentary about Tulane's personnel changes in spring camp. Fritz spoke to it, saying that while we'll continue with a four man base, the defense needs to have some other looks in the arsenal as well.
I've been running a four man front for about 25 years now. But we're going to mix some other looks and fronts in there. This day and age, you've got to be multiple just like the offenses are, so we've experimented with some things. Some of it was good, some of it wasn't quite so good.
In addition to Banks, Tulane is in different waters with significant depth at wide receiver. This experience has given Fritz a boost as he looks at the passing game.
I think we got quite a ways to go, but I thought we made steps this spring with our accuracy and most practices in our protection. We had nine healthy receivers. Last year at the end of spring ball, we had three. We were able to get a lot of reps in with these guys. We had a lot more competition.
This includes the introduction of some new names:
We've thrown two or three new guys into the mix. [JUCO transfer] Jabril Clewis... and Jacob Robertson, who was injured last year, and then Brian Newman, who wasn't eligible for us in the fall.
As well as seeing the experienced core of the receiver depth chart continue to push forward:
I saw a lot of improvement with Darnell Mooney, and then Jet Glenn and DJ Owens. And then I thought Terren Encalade took a big step forward. He's been sort of our bell cow there at the receiver position.
At Tight End, Fritz spoke to the development of Jones and Ardoin as pass catchers and blockers in this system:
Our tight ends got a lot better. Charles Jones, I thought he had a very good spring. He's always showing us that he could be a Division 1 receiver. Now he's showing that he's also a Division 1 blocker, and we've got to have that. Kendall Ardoin is also a receiving threat. And then we're really blessed with running backs who can catch the ball.
After boasting a strong DL for the past two seasons, the Green Wave now has a lot of experience and talent concentrated in the secondary. Fritz discussed this point:
We have a good front line group. Parry [Nickerson] and Donnie [Lewis] are as good of a tandem of corners as anyone has in our conference. Tre Jackson will be in there. Thakarius Keyes couldn't practice this spring but he should be ready in the next month. He did a good job in the limited amount of time he got in there in the fall. We feel good about the corner position, and then we signed a couple guys in Willie Langham and Jaylon Monroe, who we see a top flight guys at the corner position.
Coming off strong seasons, Teamer and Franklin have continued to showcase their talent as safeties:
At the safety position, I thought Roderic Teamer had an excellent spring for us. He's got an opportunity to be an all-conference type guy along with Jarrod Franklin. He was a more known commodity than Roderic but he's going to take advantage of his physical skill set. PJ Hall didn't go through spring ball but he should be cleared here in another week. We're going to have good depth in the secondary.
Coming off a rebound year that earned him all-conference honors, Parry Nickerson had an operation yesterday to clean out a previous injury. Fritz expects his recovery time to be short and for Parry to be set for fall camp.
We've got to figure out what there's to do with him. He's going to have an easy operation... but they're going to clean that up a little bit, and he should be back to full speed in another month. We just need to get him fully healthy. It was a good window to get it done, and our docs feel really good about it. He was a second-team all conference guy. We need him back playing better than ever.
Andrew DiRocco has left the program, and the kicking role is up for grabs. Neenan has taken the lead but the competition will remain open:
Coby has a big time leg when he's on... In spring, he had the best numbers but not by a lot. There will be some competition coming into the fall, but we feel good about Coby if he can get the consistency you need, he will be a tremendous asset for us.
With the return of both Dontrell Hilliard and Sherman Badie, Tulane's critical RB pool will get deeper as former QB Darius Bradwell transitions to running back while early enrollee Stephon Huderson has impressed:
Darius Bradwell, I thought it was a good move from quarterback to running back. We're still pushing him and getting him going. He gives us that physical, big back. He's 225, 230 and he runs behind his pads. He can make a four yard run into an eight yard run with that body lean, and he can catch the ball. He can be an every down back. [True freshman Stephon] Huderson showed us a lot, and he can be in the mix too.