What you need to know ... It's not going to be the most explosive
offense around, but it'll be steady and very, very effective
with seven returning starters to an attack that led the league
with a 33-point average. Expect another good year thanks to the
return of QB Paul Smith and four very good starters to what
should be an improved offensive line. The loss of leading rusher
Uril Parrish won't hurt with the three-headed monster of Brandon
Diles, Tarrion Adams and Oklahoma transfer Courtney Tennial
making the ground game stronger. The big problem is at receiver
losing All-America TE Garrett Mills and top WR Ashlan Davis.
Passing: Paul Smith
227-364, 2,847 yds, 20 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Tarrion Adams
89 carries, 574 yds, 8 TD
Receiving: Tarrion Adams
24 catches, 273 yds, 2 TD
Star of the offense: Junior QB Paul Smith
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior WR
Unsung star on the rise: Junior RB Courtney Tennial
Best pro prospect: Senior OT Jeff Perrett
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Smith, 2) Perrett, 3) G
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, running back
Weakness of the offense: Wide receiver
Paul Smith might not get the credit or the publicity that
other Conference USA quarterbacks receive, but he might just be
the best of the bunch because of his consistency. While UTEP's
Jordan Palmer and Houston's Kevin Kolb tend to force things,
Smith is great at simply getting the job done, and most
importantly, winning. He's a great leader who'll be an effective
star for the next two years. David Johnson is a great backup for
the Tulsa system.
The key to the unit: Paul Smith has to be as
effective and as efficient as he was last year, while David
Johnson needs more live reps to get his feet wet.
Quarterback Rating: 7.5
- Paul Smith, Jr. - 227-364, 62%, 2,847 yds, 20 TD, 6 INT,
111 carries, 258 yds. 2.3 ypc, 6 TD
Smith stepped in as a true sophomore and wasn't flashy, but he
didn't need to be. He was a rock down the stretch throwing for
over 200 yards in ten games (with one 199-yard effort)
with only one interception over the final six games. He's a
precision passer who can take off and be an effective runner,
though not a particularly dangerous one. He doesn't make
mistakes playing like a crafty veteran even though this his only
his second year as the starter.
- David Johnson, Soph. - 28-41, 68%, 236 yds, 1 TD, 1
INT, 5 carries, 23 yds
Johnson is a good passer with a live, accurate arm and decent
mobility. While Paul Smith is firmly entrenched as the starter,
Johnson can step in and the offense won't miss a beat. He saw
most of his action in the opener against Minnesota completing 20
of 30 passes.
Drew Westling, RFr.
He fits the mold. Westling is a tall, mobile, accurate passer
who looks like a carbon copy of other Tulsa quarterbacks. He's
the clear number three with the talent and potential to
challenge for the starting job a few years down the road.
This is a great backfield despite the loss of leading
rusher Uril Parrish. Brandon Diles and Oklahoma transfer
Courtney Tennial are good enough to carry the workload and
become consistent 100-yard backs, while Tarrion Adams has to
find carries somewhere with his speed and receiving abilities.
All three will get plenty of work
The key to the unit: Brandon Diles has to stay
healthy, Courtney Tennial has to play up to his hype, and
Tarrion Adams has to continue to be effective every time he
touches the ball.
Running Back Rating: 6.5
- Brandon Diles, Sr. - 40 carries, 247 yds, 6.2 ypc, 3 TD
A good reserve runner over the last few seasons, Diles will be
used as a between-the-tackles workhorse taking the place of Uril
Parrish. Tarrion Adams will be the flash, but Diles will be a
consistent pounder to loosen things up. He hasn't been used much
so far as a receiver, but that'll change now that his workload
- Tarrion Adams, Soph. - 89 carries, 574 yds, 6.4 ypc, 8
TD, 24 catches, 273 yds, 11.4 ypc, 2 TD
Adams is a good-sized 6-1 and 204 pounds with great speed and
fantastic hands. He's not only the team's leading returning
rusher, he's also the team's top returning receiver after
turning into a steady performer down the stretch. He's an
explosive runner who hasn't been used as a workhorse with only
four games with ten or more carries, but he showed what he can
do in the Liberty Bowl win over Fresno State rushing for 102
yards and a score on only 11 carries.
- Courtney Tennial, Jr.
The former Oklahoma Sooner can do a little bit of everything.
He's 219 pounds with tremendous speed with the power to break
tackles. While he might not win the starting job, he'll be an
effect 5-to-7 carry a game back.
There's work to be done, but there are also a lot of
promising prospects to fill the gaping void left by All-America
TE Garrett Mills and top receiver Ashlan Davis. The leading
returning receiver, Idris Moss, finished fifth on the team in
receiving and has to establish himself early as a go-to veteran
target. There's not much experience on the outside but there's
plenty of speed with Ryan Bugg and Jesse Meyer track guys who
can also play a little bit of football. The Golden Hurricane
uses plenty of two tight end sets. The blockers are in place
with Charles Ramsey and Ted Curtis returning, and now a receiver
needs to be found to replace Mills' 87 catches and nine
touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Jacob Collums will soon be the team's
The key to the unit: At least two reliable receivers
have to emerge right away and there needs to be more of deep
threat from the outside spot.
Receiver Rating: 5.5
- Ryan Bugg, Sr. - 7 catches, 61 yds, 8.7 ypc, 2 TD
Bugg provides the wheels. The lightning fast former JUCO
transfer didn't do much of anything last season, but now he'll
get the first look at the X where he needs to use his track star
speed to be a top deep threat.
- Idris Moss, Sr. - 22 catches, 236 yds, 10.7 ypc, 2 TD
The team's leading returning wide receiver has to turn into a
game-breaker. The speedy former UCLA Bruin should be effective
on the inside and has to establish himself as a go-to guy. He
was consistent last year, but unspectacular with a catch in ten
games but no more than two grabs in any one game.
- Tight end Charles Ramsey, Jr. - 2 catches, 37 yds
Mostly a blocker so far, Ramsey will have to show he can do a
little bit more in the passing game. At 254 pounds he's the
biggest of the tight end options and will be used mostly like a
- Donnie Johnson, Sr.
A steady reserve so far, the 208-pound Johnson can be a physical
receiver on the inside. He'll have to battle to find a spot in
the rotation with all the incoming JUCO talent looking for
- Cauvey Jackson, Jr. - 43 carries, 241 yds, 5.6 ypc, 3
TD, 11 catches, 111 yds, 10.1 ypc
The former running back will bring his speed and quickness to
the receiving corps where he could quickly grow into a dangerous
inside receiver. The goal will be to find ways to get the ball
in his hands when he's on the move and let him make people miss.
He could get a few carries if needed.
- Jesse Meyer, RFr.
He's 6-3 with track star speed. He'll battle with Ryan Bugg at
the outside X position and could grow into a good third receiver
with the leaping ability and quickness to be useful in the red
- Corey Kizer, Jr.
The 6-2, 210-pound JUCO transfer caught 15 touchdown passes over
the last two years and will be an instant challenger for one of
the starting spots.
- Tight end Ted Curtis, Soph. - 1 catch, 14 yds
Curtis will be a key blocker in two tight end sets, but could
quickly become a reserve again if one of the new tight ends
turns into a top receiver right away. Curtis is a fullback-sized
6-1 and 242 pounds with good toughness and questionable hands.
- Tight end Jacob Collums, RFr.
The 236-pound redshirt freshman might not be the next Garrett
Mills, but the coaching staff is thrilled over his potential.
He's a physical blocker with great hands and good route running
This should be a good group if the pass protection improves.
Four starters return including likely all-stars Jeff Perrett at tackle
and John Hameister-Ries in the middle, and tackle Mark Mengers and
center Aaron Danenhauer have been around for the last two years growing
into steady starters. The one loss is a big one with the graduation of
All-Conference USA performer Jesse Stoneham at right guard, but the big
hole gets a big fill-in with 347-pound Rodrick Thomas looking like a
good one. There's plenty of depth with help from the JUCO ranks as well
as the return of Wade Whitlow and Jeff Bryant after they spent last year
The key to the unit: A bit more consistency all the
way around is needed from a group this experienced. There's too much
talent here not to dominate.
Offensive Line Rating: 6.5
- OT Mike Mengers, Sr.
Mengers is back for a third season as one of the team's better pass
blockers. He's never going to be dominant in the ground game at 280
pounds, but he bulked up a bit and should be stronger.
- OG John Hameister-Ries, Sr.
The former tight end hit the weights and the training table big time to
get up to 308 pounds. He's still athletic and should be in for a big
season now that he knows what he's doing.
- C Aaron Danenhauer, Sr.
The 302-pound senior has done a little of everything seeing time at left
tackle as well as right guard. He settled in at center where he's one of
the line's toughest and most aggressive blockers.
- OG Rodrick Thomas, Soph.
Thomas is the only new starter on the line filling in for all-star Jesse
Stoneham. He's a massive 6-4, 347-pound blocker with the feet to play
tackle if needed.
- OT Jeff Perrett, Sr.
The veteran star of the line, the 6-7, 329-pound mountain has started 35
straight games and is coming off his best season yet earning a few
All-Conference honors. He's still growing into a consistent blocker. He
can dominate in the running game at times and is at his best when he
uses his long arms and frame in pass protection.
- T Jody Whaley, RFr.
A very strong and very promising tackle, the 302-pound Whaley is a
bigger option on the left side than starter Mike Mengers.
- C Justin Morsey, Soph.
The JUCO transfer can play either guard or center. He's
not all that big at 6-2 and 274 pounds, but he can move and is very,
- G Wade Whitlow, Jr.
A solid backup so far. Whitlow needs to get healthy to be back in the
mix at right guard. He's 6-4 and 310 pounds with the versatility and
pass blocking skills to play tackle if needed.