February 20, 2013
OL coach John McDonnell talks about his players
Offensive line coach John McDonnell was Tulane's hardest working assistant by necessity in year No. 1 of the Curtis Johnson era after inheriting a group that was impossibly inexperienced and unaccomplished.
Now that his second spring practice has rolled around, nothing has changed. He is working just as hard to make the blockers better.
"Spring's been good, but we still have a lot of work to do," McDonnell said after Tulane's fifth practice in eight days on Wednesday. "We're not even close to where we need to be. To say we're better is yes, but that's not where I want to be, and I don't think they do either. We still have to work on the physicality of the game, but the effort has been great."
The line improved as last season went along but never really became functional, particularly in the run game, where Tulane's statistics were scary bad. Rob Kelley paced the Green Wave with 286 rushing yards, the lowest total for a team leader since George Smith's 217 in 1963. No one averaged 4.0 yards per carry. Even factoring out sacks, which count toward rushing totals in college football, Tulane averaged a measly 2.9 yards per attempt.
The Wave rushed for 20 or fewer yards in six of 12 games, had a long run of 15 yards or fewer in 11 games, cracked the 100-yard barrier only once (with 153 against UAB) and did not have a rushing touchdown until the eighth game.
"It's not acceptable," McDonnell said. "It's a little misleading in that we tried to throw the ball. That's what we felt like was the way we could get the victory the quickest, but there's not a line coach in the country that would want to have (those rushing numbers). We have to get better at that. It's schemes, it's physicality, it's pad level, footwork, assignment."
Everyone is back with the exception of starting right tackle Eric Jones, who graduated.
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