September 30, 2013
Commentary: CJ better than OK
Recent history says the Tulane football team runs and hides when it has a chance for a real breakthrough, but the program is giving off a different vibe this time. It's palpable.
Before Tulane played its best game of the season against ULM on Saturday, coach Curtis Johnson had his best week of coaching. He hit all the right notes from the moment the Green Wave got crushed by Syracuse until it took out its frustrations on the unsuspecting Warhawks, recovering from a dismal performance by dominating ULM at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
Long-time assistants usually need some time to find their voice when they become bosses. Johnson started his learning curve in an impossibly difficult 2012 season that featured star linebacker Trent Mackey's arrest (he later was acquitted) for armed robbery, a hurricane evacuation before the season opener, Ryan Griffin's shoulder injury and Devon Walker's cervical spine fracture.
Year No. 2 is when CJ really can make a difference, and he did last week.
Instead of panicking or pouting or pointing fingers -exhibit A is ULM's Todd Berry in a shockingly unprofessional and potentially career-damaging display after the loss to Tulane -Johnson remained positive despite a litany of mistakes against Syracuse that included a special teams meltdown.
He was honest about what happened but maintained his sense of humor and hope for the future. After watching quarterback Nick Montana take far too many big hits against Syracuse, he offered this gem after last Tuesday's practice at the Superdome.
"I got a daughter 31 and a daughter 28, and they called me the day after the game and asked is Nick all right," he said. "I was like, yeah, he's all right. They said, are you sure? Are you sure he's not still in ice?"
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