NEW ORLEANS — Despite having not won a game since Sept. 17, Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin believes success can be had this coming season.
He thinks this despite having a new coach and despite a decade passing since the last winning season.
“I don’t know the stats but I know all across the country there are teams that have turned around in one year with a new coach and I know we can do it,” Griffin said.
The Green Wave completed their first day of spring football Wednesday under first-year coach Curtis Johnson.
And by all accounts, it went successfully in spite of it coming a day after the city’s biggest party of the year.
“It was originally scheduled for Friday and he moved it up to today on purpose with Mardi Gras and so guys would get out here,” Griffin said. “Luckily I don’t think anyone puked, which is good. We all took it seriously and acted like professionals during Mardi Gras and came out here ready to go.”
Johnson put the team through a nearly two-hour up-tempo session at the team’s Uptown practice field.
For the former Saints receivers coach, though, it can still get faster.
“I want them even faster,” Johnson said. “I thought it was a little bit slow for me. I just want them to go quicker – in and out of the huddle, back to the huddle, in and out and back. I think we’ll get there.”
For the first time in a long time, there’s excitement surrounding the program.
Tulane returns 18 starters, including seven on offense and eight on defense.
Johnson understands how all the losing in the past could give those players a feeling of despair about the sport. But what he’s trying to drill into his players’ minds is that the past means little and the future should only be what they can see now, not way in the distance.
“One thing we’re doing, we’re not thinking about winning and we’re not thinking about losing,” Johnson said. “We’re thinking about the next play. One play at a time. One play after another.”
Said linebacker Trent Mackey, “I think the coaches here, they’re working for perfection and they expect a lot out of us.”
What needs to happen, Mackey said, is for the players to commit to what Johnson is selling.
“I bought into it already,” he said. “A lot of guys, everybody is showing up to workouts, putting all they have into it. Today at practice, nobody tapped out.
“I think that’s the first sign of success.”