Preview 2017: Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Previewing and looking ahead at the Tulsa Golden Hurricane season – and what you need to know.
What You Need To Know About The Tulsa Offense
Devastating, the Golden Hurricane attack finished fourth in the nation – averaging 527 yards per game – and seventh in scoring, cranking out close to 43 yards per outing. Seven starters are back, and the production will come, but there are some massive losses.
But the stars are gone. Record-setting QB Dane Evans is finished, the 1,629 yards and 18 rushing scores from top back James Flanders have to be replaced, and the 159 catches, 2,238 yards and 23 touchdowns from the 1-2 punch of Keevan Lucas and Josh Atkinson are gone.
On the plus side, the fantastic offensive line is almost all back full, with four starters back including Chandler Miller, one of the nation’s top centers. After paving the way for over five yards per carry and 33 scores, and gave up a not-that-bad 24 sacks.
D’Angelo Brewer is a good back who got more work than Flanders, there are a slew of young receivers good enough to step into the void, and Chad President and Luke Skipper battling it out to replace Evans.
Biggest Key To The Tulsa Offense
The running game has to continue to rock. The better teams were able to slow down the Tulsa ground attack, for obvious reasons – they were the better teams. In the three losses, two of them – Ohio State and Houston – were the two games Tulsa failed to hit the 100-yard rushing mark, and the other one against Navy ended with the fourth-worst rushing game of the season, even if it still cranked up 207 yards.
What You Need To Know About The Tulsa Defense
The offense got most of the credit for the success, but the defense did its part. It might have allowed a slew of yards, but it was good against most decent passing teams, kept big plays down, and was good enough against most of the teams with the stronger ground games.
Some of the top tacklers are done up the middle, but the pass rush should be solid on the outside, starting with Jesse Brubaker on one side, and Jeremy Smith on the other. Craig Suits is back in the linebacking corps, but he’s the lone returning starter.
The pass defense kept teams below seven yards per throw, while allowing passers to hit a mere 53% of their throws. Starting corners Kerwin Thomas and Reggie Robinson are back, along with S Jordan Mitchell, the team’s second-leading returning tackler.
Biggest Key To The Tulsa Defense
The D is a rock up the middle. The problems last season came when the run defensive struggled, getting ripped up by Ohio State, Houston and Navy in the three defeats. However, the defensive front did its part, with Jerry Uwaezuoke and Hayden Carman holding up well combining for 74 stops.
Now they’re done, along with leading tacklers Trent Martin and Matt Linscott in the linebacking corps. Tulsa is set on the outside, not it has to be strong defensively up the gut.
Tulsa Will Be Far Better If …
It wins all the close games … all of them. The Golden Hurricane owned overtimes, going 3-0 in OT games against three mediocre teams, but they stumbled late in the heart-wrenching loss to Houston, and lost 42-40 to Navy. Win those two, and it’s an 11-1 season with a trip to the American Athletic title game.
Of course, it’s not that simple – you don’t always win the tight battles – but that’s the difference between being good and special. Even with all the key personnel losses, this team will be good. Now it has to keep winning all the overtime battles.
Best Tulsa Offensive Player
C Chandler Miller, Jr. – The First-Team All-American Athletic Conference center is also one of the best in the country. At 6-3 and 293 pounds, he’s not massive, but he’s a technician of a run blocker and quick off the snap in pass protection. Bulked up, he’s an athlete on the inside.
2. RB D’Angelo Brewer, Sr.
3. OT Evan Plagg, Sr.
4. OG Tyler Bowling, Jr.
5. WR Justin Hobbs, Jr.
Best Tulsa Defensive Player
DE Jesse Brubaker, Sr. – Injured early in 2014 with a broken bone around his eye, he got another year of eligibility, and now he should be among the conference’s most dangerous defensive ends. The 6-3, 270-pounder led the team with 5.5 sacks, to go along with 13.5 tackles for loss and 57 tackles. He also picked off two passes, taking them for scores.
2. S Jordan Mitchell, Sr.
3. LB Craig Suits, Sr.
4. DE Jeremy Smith, Sr.
5. DE Petera Wilson, Sr.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Chad President, Soph. Or redshirt freshman Luke Skipper. Dane Evans left the school as the all-time leading passer, throwing for well over 3,000 yards last season with 32 touchdowns. While he was good, the system and coaching should make the quarterback a star.
The 6-2, 226-pound President can run and do big things on the move, and he has enough of an arm to push the ball down the field. He got a little time over the last two years, but not enough to call him experienced. He’s in a fight with Skipper, a 6-2, 208-pound bomber who put up massive numbers as a high school dual-threat star. Whoever gets the call has to keep the nation’s fourth-best offense rolling.
The Tulsa Season Will Be A Success If …
The Golden Hurricane win ten games again. Is there enough to win the West? After winning ten games last season, it might be tough to get there in the regular season with road games at Oklahoma State and Toledo – the Rockets might be the MAC’s top team – to go along with having to play South Florida and Temple from the East. But they also get Houston and Memphis at home. If they take care of the home dates, 9-3 is possible – again – going into the post-season.
Key Game To The Tulsa Season
Oct. 14 vs. Houston – The HAD them. Tulsa had a mighty Houston team in big, big trouble – or at least could’ve tied the game late – but a drop led to a tough 38-31 loss on the road. This time around, the Golden Hurricane get Houston in their house with a chance to – potentially – take control of the West midway through the season.
2016 Tulsa Fun Stats
– 2nd Quarter Scoring: Tulsa 175 – Opponents 84
– 3rd Down Conversions: Tulsa 97-for-210 (46%) – Opponents 85-for-228 (37%)
– Penalties: Opponents 99 for 861 yards – Tulsa 78 for 684 yards