2011 Tulsa Preview - Offense
Tulsa WR Damaris Johnson
Tulsa WR Damaris Johnson
Posted Jun 30, 2011

CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Tulsa Golden Hurricane Offense

Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Preview 2011 - Offense

- 2011 Tulsa Preview | 2011 Tulsa Offense
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What You Need To Know: Since it isn't broken, no one will be looking to tinker with the Tulsa offense. Even with a new staff on hand in the aftermath of Todd Graham's departure, the Hurricane will continue to be fast-paced, diverse, and unpredictable. If there's a way to get one of the playmakers in space, the coaches will consider it. Ten starters return from an attack that ranked fifth nationally in total offense and sixth in scoring. Most notable are all-conference QB G.J. Kinne, All-American WR Damaris Johnson, and the entire offensive line. Kinne and Johnson were also No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on the team in rushing, but don't read those numbers as an indictment of the backfield. The Hurricane has options in the running game, including fullback-sized Alex Singleton and elusive playmaker Ja'Terian Douglas. Tulsa likes to spread the wealth around so, Kinne aside, one player rarely dominates the headlines.

Returning Leaders
Passing: G.J. Kinne
275-460, 3,650 yds, 31 TDs, 10 INTs
Rushing: G.J. Kinne
158 carries, 561 yds, 7 TDs
Receiving: Damaris Johnson
57 catches, 872 yds, 4 TDs

Star of the offense: Senior WR Damaris Johnson
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior WR Ricky Johnson
Unsung star on the rise: Junior H-back Willie Carter
Best pro prospect: Johnson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Senior QB G.J. Kinne, 2) Johnson, 3) Senior G Clint Anderson
Strength of the offense: Balance, red zone scoring, big plays, quarterback play, run blocking, protecting the ball, diverse running game, third down conversions
Weakness of the offense: Need for experienced receivers, pass protection


State of the Unit: No complaints. How could the program? The Hurricane returns its top two quarterbacks, including the reigning Conference USA all-star and a former blue-chip recruit. Barring an injury—or two—Tulsa will enjoy the league's best situation under center this side of the Houston Cougars.

Senior G.J. Kinne blossomed into a dynamite playmaker and triggerman of the Hurricane offense a year ago. A nimble all-around athlete former transfer from Texas, he displayed a good feel for the attack and an ability to make everyone around him better. As a passer, he finished 275-of-460 for 3,650 yards, 31 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. As an escape artist, he led the team in rushing for a second straight year, running for 561 yards and seven more scores. Entering his third year as a starter, he also has the necessary leadership skills to carry the team on his shoulders when it's necessary.

The undisputed backup will once again be 6-3, 190-pound junior Shavodrick Beaver . Still a little raw, he's the former hot prospect who de-committed from Michigan and Rich Rodriguez a couple of years ago in order to play for Tulsa. A tall and agile athlete, he needs work on his passing skills, getting just a handful of meaningless snaps in 2010.

Watch Out For .... Kinne to have more freedom in his final year. The staff has the utmost confidence in its veteran quarterback, who has spent countless hours in the film room. He'll initiate all audibles for the first time this season, meaning if he gets to the line and doesn't like what he sees, he'll be able to make a change on his own.
Strength: Dual-threat potential. In Kinne and Beaver, Tulsa harbors a pair of outstanding, improvisational athletes, who'll do a lot more than just buy time with their feet. Over the last two seasons, Kinne has rushed for 1,000 yards and a dozen scores, and Beaver might approach those numbers with a full-time job.
Weakness: Accuracy. Alright, it's a blatant nitpick, but considering the type of passing game Tulsa employs, the team should be able to complete more than 60% of its passes. The Hurricane uses a lot of short and intermediate routes, a recipe that should equate to a higher degree of accuracy.
Outlook: Kinne is all grown up and ready to become a recognized commodity on a national level. He's a multi-faceted, experienced quarterback surrounded by a quality group of skill position players. He'll once again pile up impressive numbers, even earning some modest Heisman buzz for as Tulsa remains unbeaten.
Rating: 8

Running Backs

State of the Unit: Just because last year's top two rushers were a quarterback and a wide receiver, respectively, doesn't mean Tulsa doesn't want to establish the running game. On the contrary. In fact, the Hurricane rushed for 2,820 yards and 32 touchdowns in 2010, averaging 5.3 yards a carry. The offense has a bunch of diverse options out of the backfield, even if it attacks in a variety of different ways.

The power portion of the running game will be provided by 6-1, 245-pound junior Alex Singleton, who is coming off his best season with the program. Strictly a north-south runner, he's tough to corral when he gets a head of steam, rushing for 391 yards and nine touchdowns on 84 carries. The antithesis to Singleton, and the best playmaker of the group, is 5-11, 180-pound sophomore Ja'Terian Douglas. He averaged 7.8 yards and scored three times on 43 carries, but was mostly used on fly-sweeps. This season, he's aiming to become a complete back, who's used for more than just situational purposes.

Sophomore g> Trey Watts started four games a year ago, rushing for 197 yards and a score on 62 carries and catching 20 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns. The 5-11, 199-pound son of former Oklahoma QB J.C. Watts and a former walk-on, he's impressed the staff with his tough running and work ethic. Junior Willie Carter is yet another intriguing option and an H-back candidate out of the backfield. He moves well for a 6-2, 218-pounder, averaging more than eight yards and scoring twice on 20 carries, while catching 19 passes for 299 yards and five touchdowns.

Watch Out For … more backfield by committee. Tulsa doesn't necessarily have one feature back, and that's not such a bad thing. The offense has plenty of different unique parts, all of which will get their opportunities to make plays in the fall.
Strength: Diversity of talent. From the bulldozing style of Singleton to the excitement of Douglas, the Hurricane backfield offers a little bit of everything for the coaching staff to tinker with this fall. Plus, Watts is blue-collar and Carter is a hybrid between a fullback and a tight end, this year's version of Charles Clay.
Weakness: A bona fide feature back. That guy might be on the roster, but he's yet to emerge. No back logged more than 85 carries last season, so there are still doubts whether one of the holdovers can consistently handle 10-15 carries a game.
Outlook: In the span of a year, the Hurricane has come a long way at running back. A complete mystery at this time last season, the offense now has multiple capable runners, who can also catch the ball out of the backfield. Douglas has star qualities, provided he can navigate the competition and earn more touches.
Unit Rating: 6


State of the Unit: Always a priority in this wide-open attack, Tulsa will be looking for a few new receivers to complement its returning star. Not only is the Hurricane going to be without steady a handful of steady performers, like Trae Johnson and Charles Clay, but Jameel Owens, a former transfer from Oklahoma, decided in April to not return to the team.

Senior WR Damaris Johnson may be a well-kept secret outside of Conference USA, but he's still one of America's most exciting and versatile playmakers. In just three seasons, he's already become the NCAA's all-time leader in all-purpose yards and kickoff return yards, using his speed and elusive to slip through cracks in defenses. A 5-8, 170-pound pocket rocket with the ball in his hands, he rushed for 560 yards and seven scores on only 55 carries and caught a team-high 57 passes for 872 yards and four touchdowns. Playing in a major conference, he'd be a household name.

It didn't take 6-3, 196-pound sophomore Thomas Roberson long to make an impact in the passing game. A well-sized local product from Tulsa, he broke into the lineup, started nine games, and made 30 catches for 367 yards and two scores. Is it time for 6-2, 201-pound junior Ricky Johnson to start living up to his advanced billings? A former de-commit from Arkansas, he has the 4.4 speed and big frame to dominate opposing defensive backs. However, in two seasons, he's only caught 30 passes for 462 yards and three scores. Senior Genesis Cole will be one of the first receivers off the bench and an option in four-wide sets. He runs good routes and has a long, 6-1, 188-pound frame, catching 17 passes for 205 yards to earn his first letter.

Sophomore Willie Carter is a budding star at H-back or when Tulsa needs a short-yardage back. He caught five touchdown passes last year and averaged more than eight yards a carry. When the Hurricane uses a more traditional tight end, it'll employ 6-4, 237-pound senior Clay Sears , a three-time letterwinner since transferring from Blinn (Tex.) Junior College. Underutilized in 2010, he caught just six passes for 64 yards and two scores.

Watch Out For … the progress of Ricky Johnson. Tulsa needs a complement to Damaris Johnson, and No. 5 has all of the necessary skills to be that guy. He scratched the surface in 2010, but should really start turning the corner now that he's at the halfway point of his college career.
Strength: Playmakers. Considering that the offense relies on a quick-hitting, shorter passing game, it did well to average more than 13 yards a reception last year. That level of production had a lot to do with the receivers' ability to pick up yards after the catch.
Weakness: Consistency. While the raw talent is undeniable, the little things still need to be refined. To take their game to another level, the wideouts and H-backs must reduce their number of dropped balls, run crisper routes, and improve in downfield blocking.
Outlook: Depending upon who steps in 2011, the receiving corps could be in for a decline this fall. While Damaris Johnson's star burns brightly, it remains to be seen whether or not he'll be a one-man gang for QB G.J. Kinne. Carter will be a very interesting option in the middle of the field, but the offense will still need more out of receivers, like Ricky Johnson and Roberson.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Offensive Line

State of the Unit: The unsung heroes of last season's offensive revival, the maligned front wall finally took a step in the right direction at Tulsa. The Hurricane paved the way for the nation's No. 15 running game and cut down on its number of sacks allowed. Even better, just about everyone returns from that group, lending hope that 2010 was no one-year anomaly in the trenches.

The most celebrated of the Hurricane blockers is 6-2, 285-pound senior G Clint Anderson , who played his way on to the All-Conference USA second team. A third-year starter on the inside and one of the offensive leaders, he gets out of the blocks quickly and can be explosive on running plays.

The team's best tackle is 6-4, 305-pound senior Tyler Holmes, a Canadian who's already been drafted by the CFL. Entering his fourth season as a starter, he was named honorable mention All-Conference USA, blending good footwork with a strong upper body. Over at right tackle, the staff is banking on the healthy return of 6-3, 301-pound junior Brian DeShane, who's coming back from shoulder surgery. A good athlete at the position, he broke into the lineup in September and started the final 10 games. Massive Joe King is hoping to crack the rotation right away. A 6-6, 319-pound junior, he started his career at Texas Tech before transferring, and is being looked at as a tackle or a guard.

Rounding out the interior along with Anderson is 6-2, 285-pound junior C Trent Dupy and 6-4, 305-pound sophomore G Stetson Burnett . Dupy is veteran of 24 career starts, showing a good feel for the offense and his role within it. Burnett started 10 games in his rookie year, suffering through some growing pains, but getting better as the season unfolded. His stiffest competition will come from 6-4, 308-pound senior Eric Sproal, a former transfer from Santa Ana (Calif.) Junior College. He's lettered twice and started four games last fall.

Watch Out For .... King to be one of the fastest risers of the line. He has outstanding size and enough know-how to provide immediate relief on one of the first two units. Even if he can't secure a starting spot, he'll still get plenty of reps in his Tulsa debut.
Strength: The left side. In Anderson and Holmes, the Hurricane boasts a pair of all-star-caliber blockers to the left of center. Beyond just being skilled at opening holes and protecting the quarterback, both are senior leaders who bring an infectious attitude to the rest of the unit.
Weakness: Pass protection. No doubt, the Hurricane improved after ranking 118th in the country in 2010. However, a 75th place finish is still not where line coach Denver Johnson wants this unit to be. There's not a wealth of next-level talent, which becomes evident against the faster defenses on the schedule.
Outlook: The Achilles' heel of this program last summer, Tulsa addressed its issues up front and made positive strides in 2010. With so many regulars back on campus, even more progress is expected this fall. There are no major holes, and even the team's depth has been bolstered from a year ago. The Hurricane may still struggle in pass protection against quality defenses, but the leaks won't be nearly as prevalent as they were in the past.
Rating: 6

- 2011 Tulsa Preview | 2011 Tulsa Offense
- 2011 Tulsa Defense | 2011 Tulsa Depth Chart
- Tulsa Previews 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006