Tulsa Preview 2006 - Defense
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Posted Aug 6, 2006

Tulsa Golden Hurricane Preview 2006 - Tulsa Defense

What you need to know ... If this isn't the best defense in Conference USA, it'll be close. The linebacking corps is terrific with six great options and an all-star cast among the front three led by Nick Bunting on the strongside and Nelson Coleman in the middle. The secondary could be even better thanks to the return of big hitting safety Kedrick Alexander along with All-Conference USA safety Bobby Blackshire and corner Nick Graham. There's plenty of room to tinker in the 3-3-5 alignment with enough size up front to play a true 4-3 against the run and enough speed and size among the backup linebackers to add another speed rushing end to the mix. 

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Nelson Coleman, 117
Sacks: Nick Bunting, 5
Interceptions: Nick Graham, 5

Star of the defense: Senior LB Nick Bunting
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior NG Brandon Jones
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore LB George Clinkscale
Best pro prospect: Senior FS Bobby Blackshire
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Bunting, 2) Blackshire, 3) S Kedrick Alexander
Strength of the defense: Linebacker, secondary
Weakness of the defense:
Run defense from the front three

Defensive Line
The goal of the front three is to not get run over and provide a little bit of resistance so the great linebacking corps can clean everything up. At least, that was the goal last year. This season, Chadd Evans and Moton Hopkins appear to be ready for breakout seasons on the end, while Brandon Jones leads a huge group of nose guards in the middle. There are options to play with. The three man front could quickly be a true 4-3 with three, 300+ pound players behind Jones just waiting to see time as another tackle.
The key to the unit: The entire line has to be stronger against the run and get into the backfield more.

Defensive Line Rating:

Projected Starters
- DE Chadd Evans, Jr. - 34 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 7 TFL, 2 forced fumbles
The former Colorado transfer wasn't quite the pass rusher he was expected to be, but he turned out to be the team's top tackling lineman while also doing a decent job of getting into the backfield. The 265-pound junior is expected to grow into an even more productive player now that he knows what he's doing.

- NG Brandon Jones, Jr. - 14 tackles
Jones isn't the biggest option on the nose at 297 pounds, but he's one of the quickest and has the most experience. He started out as the starter last season before serving as a reserve over the second half of the season. He's tough and holds up relatively well on the inside against average linemen.

- DE Moton Hopkins, Soph. - 28 tackles, 2 sacks, 2.5 TFL
Hopkins had a nice true freshman season and is poised for a huge second year after bulking up from an athletic 255 pounds to a space-eating 275 pounds. He's a very strong, very quick end who's expected to be a dangerous pass rusher.

Top Backups
- DE Robert Latu, Sr. - 21 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 TFL
The former linebacker is a good-sized 271-pound option behind Chadd Evans. He's better against the run than he is a pass rusher, and he'll have to do a little of both as a key player in the rotation.
- NG Walter Boyd, Jr. - 13 tackles, 2 TFL
After cutting his teeth as a true freshman defensive end, Boyd got bigger bulking up to 317 pounds and became a decent reserve on the nose. He has the motor and the size to be a producer behind Brandon Jones.
- DE Tommy Daniels, Soph. - 10 tackles
The 338-pound sophomore  saw time as a true freshman taking up space in the middle. He's not all that athletic and he isn't going to collapse the pocket, but he's strong and will battle for time on the nose.

It'll be a total shock if this isn't Conference USA's best linebacking corps by a long shot. You could make a preseason first-team all-star list from Nick Bunting, Nelson Coleman and Chris Chamberlain and you wouldn't be nuts. Bunting is a Butkus Award candidate on the strongside, while Coleman could be even better in the middle. To make things more interesting, the talented backups aren't just bigger than the starters, they're a lot bigger. The coaching staff has an abundance of riches to work with needing to find spots somewhere for George Clinkscale and Alain Karatepeyan; each could play defensive end if needed.
The key to the unit: Make a few more big plays against the run while utilizing all the size among the reserves to be stronger in running situations.
Linebacker Rating: 8

Projected Starters
- Nick Bunting, Sr. - 85 tackles, 5 sacks, 9.5 TFL, 2 forced fumbles
The leader of a veteran defense, Bunting is back for his fourth season as the starter with 252 career tackles and 21.5 tackles for loss. He's one of the nation's best linebackers who knows everything about what the defense is supposed to do and can put people in the right spot. While not a lightning fast 230 pounds, he's always in the right position on the strongside.

- Nelson Coleman, Jr. - 117 tackles, 4 sacks, 6.5 TFL, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles
Coleman grew into his own last season moving from the weakside to the middle after bulking up to 235 pounds. He didn't lose a step of speed and way all over the place as both a run defender and a pass rusher. He's smart enough to join Nick Bunting as the quarterback of the defense and should be even more productive after a year of starting experience.

- Chris Chamberlain, Jr. - 88 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 11 TFL, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles
Chamberlain went from being a nice role player and a decent pass rusher to a great all-around weakside linebacker finishing third on the team in tackles. Before, he was a safety playing linebacker, but now he's a linebacker with defensive back speed at a rock solid 225 pounds with great quickness.

Top Backups
- Alain Karatepeyan, Jr. - 11 tackles. 1.5 sacks, 2.5 TFL
The former JUCO transfer couldn't get on the field too much last season playing behind Nick Bunting on the strongside. He's a great tackler who needs to find a spot somewhere in the mix to use his 250-pound size against the run.
- Cody Madison, Jr. - 11 tackles, 2 recovered fumbles
Able to play linebacker or defensive end, the 239-pound junior has found a home in the middle behind Nelson Coleman. He's strong and is great against power teams, but he doesn't have anywhere near the range of Coleman.
- George Clinkscale, Soph. - 12 tackles, 2.5 TFL
Clinkscale had a nice true freshman season as a reserve on the weakside. He bulked up to 241 pounds and has the potential to grow into an all-star once he gets more playing time. He could be a dangerous situational pass rusher if used as a specialist on the line.

Defensive Backs
The pass defense finished 17th in the nation allowing 183 yards per game and 11th in pass efficiency defense, but to be fair, part of the reason was because teams spent so much time running the ball. Even so, Tulsa picked off 22 passes and got a great season out of its back five. Now things should be even better with the return of safety Kedrick Alexander after being out of the mix for the last two seasons along with all-stars Bobby Blackshire and corner Nick Graham. There's depth, speed, and plenty of great tacklers.
The key to the unit: Kedrick Alexander has to be as good as he was in 2003 while Bobby Blackshire, Nick Graham, and the rest of the returning talent has to be just as productive as last season.
Secondary Rating: 8

Projected Starters
- CB Nick Graham, Sr. 72 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3.5 TFL, 6 interceptions, 6 broken up passes
The best all-around athlete in the secondary came through with a tremendous season leading the team in interceptions while being a rock of a tackler with a whopping 72 stops. He's one of the team's fastest players and isn't afraid to throw around his 5-11, 191-pound frame.

- FS Bobby Blackshire, Sr. - 99 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 interceptions, 6 broken up passes
The 6-3, 205-pound all-star is back for another year after making 176 stops over the last two seasons. While he's not a blow-him-up hitter, he's a sure tackler with fantastic range in pass coverage. He has the ability to be a huge lockdown corner if needed.

- Bandit Kedrick Alexander, Sr. - 6 tackles, 1 TFL
Watch out. Alexander was one of the stars of the defense three years ago making 121 tackles, but he was suspended all of 2004 and missed all of last year after being charged with second-degree burglary. He spent that time working out and is bigger, stronger, and faster getting up to 210 pounds. He should be in the hunt for all-star honors and should be among the team's top tacklers.

- Spur Anthony Germany, Jr. - 49 tackles, 3 sacks, 13.5 TFL, 1 interception, 8 broken up passes
The 211-pound junior stepped in when injuries struck and turned into a top all-around defender leading the way in tackles for loss. He has the speed to play cornerback and the hitting ability to be an intimidating safety both against the pass and as a pass rusher.

- CB Roy Roberts, Soph. - 33 tackles, 3 interceptions, 4 broken up passes
Roberts stepped in and became one of the team's top corners growing into a physical defender with emerging skills in pass coverage. He's fast and can hit well for a corner.

Top Backups
- S Steve Craver, Jr. - 8 tackles, 1 interception, 1.5 TFL
The former JUCO transfer was all set to play a big role in the secondary when he got hurt and most most of the year. While he's not the hitter Kendrick Alexander is, he's a 212-pound linebacker-like tackler against the run.
- CB Julian McGowan, Sr. - 24 tackles, 4 interceptions, 6 broken up passes
A rail-thin 6-0 and 165 pounds, McGowan isn't going to provide any big hits. However, he's great in pass coverage coming over from the JUCO ranks to be one of the team's top corners. He'll start out behind Roy Roberts and will see plenty of time.

Special Teams
The kicking game should be fine, but nothing special after losing PK Brad DeVault and replacing him with Jarrod Tracy, who appears to be reliable but without the same big leg. P Chris Kindred is back for his third year and is a decent directional kicker. Replacing Ashlan Davis as a returner will be the big key with Idris Moss likely to take over after doing a better job than Davis on punt returns. The coverage units were among the best in the country last year and were a big help in the team's overall success.
The key to the unit: PK Jarrod Tracy has to be close to as good as Brad DeVault, while P Chris Kindred needs to get his average to around 40 yards a kick.
Special Teams Rating: 7

Projected Starters
- PK Jarrod Tracy, Jr.
While he doesn't have any experience, the junior was good enough in spring drills to prevent a panic over the loss of big-legged Brad DeVault, who nailed 18 of 21 field goals including all seven from beyond 40 yards. Tracy doesn't have nearly the same leg, but he should be consistent.
- P Chris Kindred, Sr. - 63 punts, 2,385 yds, 37.9 yards per kick, 12 inside the 20
After two years, you know what you're getting. Kindred is a decent veteran who did a great job of placing the ball but didn't do much to get the team out of trouble on a regular basis.

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Tulsa Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
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Tulsa Preview 2006 - Offense
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