New Mexico Football: Preview Of The Tulsa Golden Hurricane
New Mexico football will need to play a flawless game in a matchup that could make or break their season in week four
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New Mexico Football Must Win On The Road To Build Early Season Momentum
Two of the best up-and-coming college football teams will square off in week four this season. Tulsa is coming off an impressive 2016 season in which they finished 10-3 and had a 45-point victory over Central Michigan in the Miami Beach Bowl. They also went 2-0 against the Mountain West, defeating both San Jose State and Fresno State.
A few other notable victories include those over the Cincinnati Bearcats, the UCF Knights, and the East Carolina Pirates. However, they will be losing 17 seniors this season including starting quarterback Dane Evans, team-leading rusher James Flanders, and receiving leader Keevan Lucas. This is a team that averaged 42 points a game a season ago and leaned on these players to do so. Tulsa will have to find a new set of offensive leaders if they want to have the same success from last season.
The last time these two met, in 2015, Tulsa won in Albuquerque 40-21. There is no question that this Tulsa offense will be much different this time around. With Tulsa needing to build a new offense and UNM needing a new defense, this meeting could be very interesting. It could be very crucial to both teams, with Tulsa playing Navy the following week and New Mexico playing Air Force. The winner of this game could give them some momentum going into the rest of the season.
It is hard to tell what type of team Tulsa is going to be, but if they continue to be as well balanced as they were last year, they could find similar success.
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Mascot: Captain Cane
Conference: American Athletic Conference
2016 Record: 10-3, 6-2
Head Coach: Philip Montgomery will be headed into his third year with the team. In his first two seasons, Montgomery has gone 16-10, but saw his record improve from 2015 to 2016.
Montgomery previously spent five years as an assistant with Houston (‘03-’07) and seven years as an assistant with Baylor (‘08-’14). As the offensive coordinator at Baylor, he was able to lead his team to both a Cotton Bowl appearance and Fiesta Bowl appearance in back-to-back seasons.
There is no doubt that Tulsa has found a solid head coach to lead them to multiple winning seasons ahead. Montgomery provides solid recruiting for Tulsa which could lead them to compete with the other top schools in Oklahoma.
RB D’Angelo Brewer
With a quarterback competition going on this off-season, the one key piece returning to Tulsa’s offense is senior running back D’Angelo Brewer. Brewer rushed for 1,435 yards last season with a 5.4 yards per carry average.
Now that James Flanders is no longer with the team, Brewer will see a much bigger bulk of the carries. In the 2015 meeting, Brewer had one of his better games by rushing for 133 yards and a touchdown on 20 attempts.
The senior back has shown a large amount of improvement over the years as a Tulsa back; in 2014, he averaged just 10.7 yards a game, in 2015, 76.1 yards a game, and in 2016, a grand total of 119.6 yards a game. Brewer could very well be playing for an NFL job if he can continue this uphill climb to being a better back. He will be a deciding factor for this game and for the rest of the year. The Lobos will have a tough time keeping Brewer to less than 100 yards.
DE Jesse Brubaker
The defense also took a hard hit this offseason when Tulsa’s two leading tacklers left the team. Despite this, Tulsa still has a special player at the defensive end spot. Senior Jesse Brubaker has proven to be a talent who can take control of any game. Brubaker led the team with 13.5 tackles for loss last season to go along with 5.5 sacks, and was also able to rack up two interceptions and a forced fumble. Brubaker started 12 of the 13 games last year and totaled 57 tackles. There is no doubt that he is the best and most experienced player on this Tulsa defense.
Brubaker is a very poised defensive end who does not overplay any run. This will be a huge factor in the game since New Mexico is in love with the option. Sticking to his assignment will be a huge factor in limiting the Lobos running game. With the questions offensively, the defense will need to play much better this year.
Both teams will have new looks this season. Tulsa’s running game is one of the more proven things on the team. It is no secret the Lobos may have some trouble this year stopping the run, but they will need to do so if they want to win. Tulsa will also have home field advantage, which could play a huge role in the outcome of the game. Three of the Lobos’ four losses came on the road last season.
Both teams have passing games that will have many questions going into this year. Expect a ton of ground play in this game from both teams. The team that gets into the red zone and does not settle for field goals will win the game.
Everyone has heard the term that defense wins championships. The better defense will ultimately win this game. On paper, the Tulsa defense seems to be a bit more proven despite a few top guys leaving this offseason. It is also known that UNM had almost every defensive leader leave the team this year, as well.
UNM will have some issues moving the ball down the field against Tulsa. The Lobos will have to channel a pass game if they plan on getting a road win. In conclusion, Tulsa will play better defense at home and will hand the Lobos their first out-of-conference loss of 2017.
Tulsa 30, New Mexico 20.