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2013 Tulsa Preview - Offense
Posted Jun 9, 2013 2013 Preview - Tulsa Golden Hurricane Offense

Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Preview 2013 - Offense

- 2013 Tulsa Preview | 2013 Tulsa Offense
- 2013 Tulsa Defense | 2013 Tulsa Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: Coaches change. Personnel changes. Tulsa, though, remains one of the most potent and balanced offenses in the FBS. Life after star QB G.J. Kinne wasn’t so bad after all last season, as the Golden Hurricane cranked out an average of 457 yards and 34 points per game. Back from that attack are QB Cody Green, the dynamite running duo of Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas and leading receiver Keyarris Garrett. Gone, though, is three-fifths of a starting O-line that was quietly terrific a year ago. The program must retool the unit, which for years has been the unheralded hero of the offense’s success. Tulsa is also seeking far more consistency out of Green, the one-time Nebraska transfer, who did a lot of good things in his debut with the program, but also struggled with his accuracy and decision-making as a thrower.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Cody Green
228-419, 2,592 yds, 17 TDs, 11 INTs
Rushing: Trey Watts
186 carries, 1,108 yds, 3 TDs
Receiving: Keyarris Garrett
67 catches, 845 yds, 9 TDs

Star of the offense: Senior RB Trey Watts
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore LT Garrett Stafford
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Thomas Roberson
Best pro prospect: Watts
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Garrett, 2) Watts, 3) Senior RB Ja’Terian Douglas
Strength of the offense: The ground game, backfield depth, big targets in the passing game, balance
Weakness of the offense: Depth, consistency in the passing game, turnover on the line, third-down conversions


It was with mixed reviews that the Cody Green era began in Tulsa a year ago. The former four-star recruit of Nebraska certainly showed flashes, and was better down the stretch, but was also wildly inconsistent as a passer. He ended up 228-of-419 for 2,592 yards, 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, displaying choppy fundamentals as a thrower. However, at 6-4 and 247 pounds, Green can be virtually unstoppable in short-yardage, barreling for 283 yards and four touchdowns. Plus, the senior is the kind of leader that teammates rally around, a presence in the huddle and a huge luxury for the coaching staff.

In the closely-watched competition at quarterback, 6-2, 200-pound redshirt freshman Dane Evans jumped ahead of the veterans, 6-0, 210-pound junior Kalen Henderson and 6-1, 202-pound sophomore Joseph Calcagni in the spring. The youngest of the trio, Evans has impressed the staff with his maturity, overall consistency and retention of the offense. By winning the backup job in 2013, he has a leg up to be Green’s successor in 2013.

Watch Out For .... Green’s evolution in the pocket. His struggles as a passer in 2012 had less to do with inexperience and more to do with questionable mechanics. He’s had an entire offseason, including the spring, to fine-tune his motion and improve his reads. However, don’t expect an extreme makeover from a quarterback who still looks at times like a converted linebacker behind center.
Strength: The intangibles. There’s no substitute for what Green brings to the offense, and the entire squad for that matter. He’s experienced, doesn’t become unglued under pressure and provides the leadership needed at the position. Tulsa is a more competitive team because No. 7 is in the offensive huddle.
Weakness: Accuracy. The Golden Hurricane ranked last in Conference USA completion percentage, and 112th nationally, while standing at just plus-six in touchdowns to picks. It’s not as if Tulsa takes a ton of chances downfield, so there are no excuses for not completing closer to 60% of its throws in 2013.
Outlook: In Green, Tulsa has a winner behind center, a big and physical senior who’ll make plays in the clutch. Just don’t expect a next-level hurler, because that’s not his thing. Green might improve with his reads and his accuracy, but he’ll still mix in some head-scratching decisions. The Hurricane is happy to have him, though, especially on third-and-short and during the latter stages of a close game.
Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

The Golden Hurricane loses short-yardage star Alex Singleton, but will once again boast one of the FBS' most underrated and productive backfields. For the second straight year, Tulsa returns a pair of backs who rushed for at least 800 yards in the previous season. Ultra-versatile 5-10, 190-pound senior Trey Watts started less than half of the team's games, yet still rushed for 1,108 yards and three scores on only 186 carries, while catching 34 balls for 343 yards. The honorable mention All-Conference USA running back also was named Second Team All-Conference USA as a kick returner. A one-time walk-on, Watts has overcome modest beginnings with his toughness, work ethic and smarts.

The complement to Watts is long-time tag-team partner Ja’Terian Douglas,the big-play weapon on offense. The senior required only 137 carries to rush for 936 yards and seven touchdowns, ripping off an FBS-high four runs of at least 60 yards. The 5-11, 189-pounder isn't the fastest back around, but he's patient, with the vision and the cutback ability to slash his way into the opposing secondary. For his career, Douglas is averaging well over seven yards per carry, doing a particular degree of damage on misdirection plays and fly sweeps that free him from traffic.

Watch Out For … the distribution of carries in short yardage. Just because Watts and Douglas are a dynamic duo in the running game doesn’t mean that Singleton’s graduation won’t be felt. He was a bruising 250-pounder who led the team with 202 carries, and produced 25 touchdowns. Senior FB Cody Wilson,but the staff will need to decide whether Watts or Douglas is more effective near the end zone.
Strength: Two feature backs. The Golden Hurricane would be in great shape with either Watts or Douglas in a full-time role. Having access to both is an immense luxury for an offense. The pair has similar running styles, but since they’re virtually interchangeable, the only entity that wears down is the opposing defense.
Weakness: A pile-driver. Okay, so it’s a bit of a nit-pick, but the graduation of Singleton leaves a void in the Tulsa backfield during short-yardage situations. The running game was near perfect in 2012. This season, the Hurricane might be slightly less successful on third and fourth downs, and when reaching the end zone’s doorstep.
Outlook: Tulsa ranked No. 9 nationally in rushing, and tops in Conference USA. Provided the line successfully inserts three new starters, there’s no reason to believe the Golden Hurricane won’t boast one of the country’s top ground games again. As stand-alone weapons, Watts and Douglas would crack the 1,000-yard mark by early November. As a tandem, they’ll give Tulsa one of the most underrated backfields in the FBS.
Unit Rating: 8


The Golden Hurricane will build its receiving corps around three of last year’s top pass-catchers. The undisputed leader of the pack will be junior Keyarris Garrett who picked up the slack after go-to guy Bryan Burnham was lost for the year in Week 1. Garrett seamlessly stepped into the lineup to catch 67 balls for 845 yards and nine touchdowns. From backup to the All-Conference USA Second Team, he laid the ground floor for what might wind up being a career in the NFL. At 6-4 and 207 pounds, he has a very long frame, with the big hands and the leaping ability to be virtually unstoppable on jump balls. Garrett is also a skilled all-around target, high-balling throws and displaying sticky hands.

Returning to flanker is 6-2, 203-pound Jordan James,a third-year starter. He finished third on the team in 2012 with 41 receptions, 568 yards and two touchdowns. The senior is a smart receiver, using his size to not only gain positioning on defenders, but also to effectively block them on running plays. While James isn’t flashy, like Garrett, he’s the kind of steady performer who’ll again rank among the Hurricane’s leaders in catches.

Last season’s split end, 6-3, 195-pound junior Thomas Roberson is back to fill the same role in 2013. Although he ranked fifth on the team with 29 receptions, his 489 stood third and his four touchdowns were second to Garrett. He developed into one of Tulsa’s big-play guys, averaging almost 17 yards a catch. Roberson has good length to along with the crisp route-running skills to be a primary target on underneath routes.

When Tulsa uses a tight end, 6-3, 259-pound junior Charlie Copa will trot off the sidelines. The Syracuse transfer started three games in his first year, but did not register any statistics. However, the coaches like his hands and his blocking ability, and are confident his role will increase now that Willie Carter has graduated.

No Hurricane backup caught more than four passes in 2012, so competition for playing time will be heated in the summer. At the end of spring, 6-1, 197-pound Conner Floyd, 6-0, 184-pound sophomore Derek Patterson and 5-10, 195-pound true freshman Keevan Lucas were listed as the backup wide receivers. Lucas is an intriguing option since he graduated early from high school to participate in spring drills, and consistently made plays in March.

Watch Out For … James and Roberson to post the best numbers of their careers. Garrett is going to justifiably receive all kinds of attention from opposing defenses, which should open things up for the other playmakers. James and Roberson are savvy receivers, who’ve developed an improved connection with QB Cody Green. When Garrett sat out the spring game, it was James who took over with three scoring grabs.
Strength: Length. 6-4, 6-3 and 6-2. From Garrett to James, the Golden Hurricane wide receivers are long and athletic, providing the quarterbacks with visible targets. Green lacks accuracy, but this corps possesses the catch-radius to float passes and entice his long-armed receivers to go up high and bring the ball down.
Weakness: Depth. While Tulsa doesn’t have much to beef about regarding its starters, the backups are another story entirely. Even after losing Burnham to injury, the program failed to develop quality depth off the bench. So thin is the situation that all of the returning non-starters at wide receiver and tight end combined for 10 catches in 2012.
Outlook: The Hurricane really likes its rotation at wide receiver, and has high hopes for Copa, but it’s imperative that the main characters avoid injury. Garrett could be a year away from a shot in the NFL, and James and Roberson are reliable in support. However, Tulsa will need to spend some time this fall getting the young reserves more involved with the rotation.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Offensive Line

Tulsa’s biggest offensive priority—by far—will be to rebuild an offensive line that lost three starters—each an all-star—to graduation. It’ll be an offseason-long quest. The most accomplished guard will be 6-2, 294-pound junior Jake Alexander,who’ll anchor the left side. He started all but a single game in 2012, and has had a terrific offseason. The thick and powerful blocker is especially effective on running plays.

The coaches are ready to turn right guard over to Gabe Moyer,the veteran of two letters and four career starts. A heady and hard-working 6-2, 291-pounder, he earned his degree in only three years.

Senior Stetson Burnett is the most experienced tackle, with 32 career starts on his resume. At 6-4 and 303 pounds, he’s big, tough and physical, and is arguably the most complete all-around blocker for the Golden Hurricane. His versatility is going to be tested in 2013, as he attempts to make a pivotal move from right guard to right tackle.

The new left tackle, 6-5, 301-pound sophomore Garrett Stafford will be facing a lot of pressure this season. He’s replacing All-Conference USA first-teamer Jared Grigg, despite starting just two games in his rookie year. Stafford took over for an injured Brian DeShane on the right side late last year, which ought to help with the promotion into the lineup.

Redshirt freshman Dylan Foxworth has big shoes to fill at center, those of long-time starter Trent Dupy. At 6-2 and 265 pounds, he clearly lacks ideal size, but has impressed the staff with his quickness, hand skills and maturity for such a young player.

Now that three linemen are being promoted, the Hurricane is going to be very green on the second unit. In fact, only two backups, 6-3, 335-pound RG Alec Henry and 6-4, 302-pound RT Garrett Gladd have even lettered for the program. Henry, in particular, is a very powerful blocker, who should be starting no later than 2014.

Watch Out For .... Foxworth’s adjustment to being a starter. There’s a lot to like about No. 57, but he’s still just a rookie playing arguably the most important position on the line. He’s also in need of another 15-20 pounds, which he hopes to add between now and the opener.
Strength: Line coach Denver Johnson. Johnson has been the glue that’s helped keep this unit together over the past couple of years. He’s not surrounded by the caliber of blocker that winds up at Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, yet the Golden Hurricane still ranked in the top 10 nationally in rushing offense and sacks allowed in 2012. Johnson deserves plenty of credit for last year’s numbers.
Weakness: Proven depth. This is the same concern that the Hurricane had a year ago, except this fall might be worse. Henry could be an exception at guard, but the second and third-teams are largely dotted with blockers that are not yet ready to handle consequential minutes if the need arises.
Outlook: Blue-collar, pedestrian … effective. Despite the presence of three new starters and no returning all-stars, there’s still a feeling that Tulsa will find a way to control the line of scrimmage. And why not? With—and even prior to—Johnson, the program has shown a knack for cobbling together a scrappy unit that protects the pocket and creates space for the running backs. The challenge will be tougher this fall, but the culture of success up front has been instilled in the replacements.
Rating: 6
- 2013 Tulsa Preview | 2013 Tulsa Offense
- 2013 Tulsa Defense | 2013 Tulsa Depth Chart