Hurricane engages in extremely physical practice, scrimmage
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Thursday, March 14, 2013
3/14/13 at 8:38 PM
At the beginning of what became an exceedingly physical University of Tulsa football practice on Thursday, players engaged in the W Drill – known as such because two V-shaped lanes form a W shape.
Essentially, the W Drill is Tulsa’s version of OU’s Oklahoma drill. Within a tight space are a defender, a blocker and a ball-carrier. At the whistle, mayhem ensues.
Cody Green, Tulsa’s senior starting quarterback, did the W Drill gauntlet four times. Redshirt freshman defensive back Jeremy Brady clocked Green – knocking him completely off of his feet.
“I had to retaliate,” Green said. “I was like, ‘OK, if you guys are going to hit me like that, then I’m hitting the next person I see.’ I knew the whole day was going to be tough like that. It’s good to compete like this, and we didn’t have any injuries.”
During a spring-practice scrimmage that lasted nearly an hour, Golden Hurricane players pulled no punches. During the team’s final session before spring break, the hitting was vicious. Coach Bill Blankenship appreciated the physical effort, but admits he wasn’t terribly excited to see his starting QB confronting defenders in the W Drill.
“That surprised me a little,” Blankenship said. “Cody thinks it’s important to get in there and remind his teammates that he’s a football player. I probably didn’t notice (Green in line for the W Drill), or I probably wouldn’t have let him do it.”
Among the highlights at H.A. Chapman Stadium:
* After Green released a deep fade pass down the east sideline, 6-foot-5 wide receiver Zach Epps reached high, collected the football with one hand and secured it for a 30-yard gain.
* After running for gains of 16 and 39 yards, tailback Trey Watts scored on a 2-yard burst.
Watts also had a 20-yard TD run.
* On consecutive plays, QB Kalen Henderson ran for 41 yards and passed 14 yards to Conner Floyd for a touchdown.
* Pressured by a heavy pass rush, redshirt freshman QB Dane Evans rolled away from trouble and was near the west sideline when a teammate’s voice urged him to “throw it away!” Instead, Evans fired a strike back to the middle of the field. It was caught by first-year freshman wide receiver Keevan Lucas, who wound up with a 76-yard gain.
The 5-10, 195-pound Lucas was the only member of TU’s 2013 recruiting class who enrolled early. “He still has a lot to learn about the way we do things,” Blankenship said, “but he’s a playmaking machine.”
The play of the day involved Henderson and junior linebacker Mitchell Osborne. Chased from the pass pocket, Henderson bolted downfield. Instead of sliding or taking an angle toward the sideline, Henderson was upright and in the middle of the field when Osborne delivered a blast of a hit. The popping of pads was so loud that there was an echo.
“It’s rare that you get an opportunity like that,” Osborne said. “In high school (at Texas Class 5A powerhouse Southlake Carroll), we never hit our quarterbacks. The opportunity to hit a quarterback is one you relish. Coach Blankenship has emphasized that we’ve got to become a tougher team.”
Because of next week’s spring break, the Hurricane does not practice again until March 26. The Spring Game is set for April 6.
At the end of Thursday’s session, Blankenship conveyed this message to his players: Enjoy spring break. Have fun. Don’t do anything stupid.