Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
2012 SEASON IN REVIEW: Tulsa finished just one win shy of a establishing a new
school record last season as it impressed throughout its 2012 campaign.
The Golden Hurricane got off to an undesirable start as they dropped a 28-23
decision at Iowa State in their opener. They bounced back with seven
consecutive victories over Tulane (45-10), Nicholls (66-16), Fresno State
(27-26), UAB (49-42), Marshall (45-38), Texas-El Paso (33-11) and Rice
(28-24), which made the Conference USA theirs to lose with four regular season
Tulsa then came up short in a late season non-conference bout at Arkansas,
falling 15-19 before it went on to trounce Houston by 34 points when it
returned to league play. The Golden Hurricane then edged UCF, 23-21, before
suffering their only conference loss of the season at SMU (35-27). They needed
overtime to defeat UCF in the conference championship game, but got the job
done and escaped with a 33-27 victory. They then closed out the season by
avenging an early season loss with a win over Iowa State (31-17) in the
Coach Bill Blankenship has been productive in his two seasons at the helm of
his alma mater, compiling a 19-8 record thus far. He was a member of the staff
as a wide receivers, running backs and special teams coach for four seasons
before stepping into the head coach position.
OFFENSE: While the C-USA featured many offensive units that loved to air the
ball out, Tulsa took a different approach and dedicated its gameplan to
establishing the run in 2012, which led to the ninth best ground attack in the
nation at 245.7 yards per game. The offense was very successful overall,
producing 457.1 total yards and 34.7 points per contest.
Three of Tulsa's top four rushers return to the fold, including superstar
senior Trey Watts. The 5-foot-11, 190 pound tailback tallied 1,108 rushing
yards, 343 receiving yards and returned a kickoff for a touchdown last season
while averaging more than six yards per carry.
"The guys we don't need to see as much are guys like Trey," said Blankenship.
"He's serious about improving himself. He doesn't have to prove himself to us,
but he's trying to improve his game, and that's what I get from the veterans.
Without Trey we wouldn't have a whole lot of offensive firepower right now."
Senior tailback Ja'Terian Douglas came close to the 1,000-yard mark on only
137 carries, which is an indication of how explosive he can be in the open
field. The Golden Hurricane will need to find someone to replace Alex
Singleton, who was the team's main goal line threat (24 TDs) and most frequent
carrier (202 attempts).
Senior quarterback Cody Green will return to his starting position under
center after an inconsistent junior year. The Golden Hurricane's quarterback
had an impressive start to 2012, throwing 11 touchdowns in his first six
games. However, he finished the year with only 17 touchdowns to 11
interceptions after throwing a pick in five consecutive games to close out the
Although the tight end position is a question mark, the presence of Keyarris
Garrett (845 yards, 67 receptions), Jordan James (568 yards, 41 receptions)
and Thomas Roberson (489 yards, 29 receptions) in the lineup gives Green
plenty of options in the aerial attack. Garrett made countless clutch plays
last season as a junior and was responsible for nine of the team's 19
Only three teams in the FBS allowed fewer sacks than Tulsa last season, but
that might not be easy to repeat as only two starters from that unit are back.
Senior right tackle Stetson Burnett (6-4, 303) is going to be the leader of a
group that is expected to feature three underclassmen.
DEFENSE: The Golden Hurricane's defensive performance was a strong factor in
the success last season. They led the C-USA in total defense (347.8) and
finished second in scoring defense (23.6 ppg). The push up front was
phenomenal, lifting Tulsa to a third place national finish in sacks per game
(3.8) along with the fifth highest tackles for loss per game average (7.9).
"I think it suits us. I think that playing defense and being tough never goes
out of style," said Blankenship on his defense's hard-hitting style. "If you
can play defense and be physically tough, you can play for championships. If I
could design it, I'd like to be a little more explosive and open with what we
do (offensively). But when you can play defense, it allows you to take care of
the football and take less chances."
Reaching those numbers again in 2013 will be difficult with only three of the
starters from last season's defense returning. There will be four new faces up
front featuring junior defensive end Brentom Todd (6-3, 239), who finished his
sophomore season with 35 total tackles, 12.5 for loss and a forced fumble.
Senior Shawn Jackson (6-0, 251) and junior Mitchell Osborne (6-2, 210) are
going to be the leaders of the defensive unit from the linebacker position.
Jackson's 88 total tackles last season make him the team's leading returning
tackler and Osborne is expected to build upon a strong campaign that yielded
40 total stops. Sophomore Trent Martin will be the third starter at linebacker
for Tulsa with 39 tackles, including 26 solo tackles, has had two tackles for
loss, one sack, one pass break-up, two quarterback hurries and two blocked
kicks to his credit after one year.
Defensive coordinator Brent Guy has a leader to rely on in the secondary in
senior safety Marco Nelson. The 6-0 defensive back has picked off eight passes
in his career and has started since his freshman year. Sophomore Michael Mudoh
(5-10, 198) will join him in the secondary, while freshmen Darnell Walker Jr,
and Darnell Williams start at the corners.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Watts is going to continue to serve as a return specialist as
well after earning a spot on the Conference USA-Second Team. Despite Tulsa's
success overall last season, it did not have great numbers in the kicking
games. Sophomore kicker Daniel Schwarz went 12-of-18 on field goal tries,
while junior punter Cole Way averaged 39.1 yards per attempt. The extra year
of experience should be beneficial for both.
OUTLOOK: Although the Conference USA will be weaker this season, Tulsa will
find it difficult tying the school record for wins again. It is hard though,
to picture a Blankenship team not competing for the conference crown.
The Golden Hurricane begin their season on the road against a defensive-minded
Bowling Green squad from the MAC before taking on Colorado State in their home
opener. They will then hit the road in hopes of upsetting Oklahoma and have
another tough non-conference tilt the following week when Iowa State pays a
visit to H.A. Chapman Stadium. After the Cyclones, Tulsa will trudge through
its conference schedule which includes Rice, Texas-El Paso, Tulane, Texas-San
Antonio, East Carolina, Marshall, Louisiana Tech and North Texas.
Blankenship's team could once again win the C-USA title, but winning at ECU
and Louisiana Tech are going to be key to that run. Tulsa is not the only team
in the league to be rebuilding and the offensive system it has in place may be
strong enough to avoid too much of a drop off.
The Sports Network