Depth Chart |
First there was the shift from the WAC to its new league where
no one gave it a chance to do much in a division with UTEP and
Houston. There was the parade of superstar college running backs
that the defense had to face from Minnesota's Laurence Maroney to
Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson to Patrick Cobbs of North Texas to
DeAngelo Williams of Memphis. There was the loss to UTEP meaning it
would take a miracle just to get to the Conference USA title game,
and then the Golden Hurricane had to play a road game at UCF to win
the championship. Finally, there was the Liberty Bowl against a
Fresno State team that pushed USC to the wall.
Even with everything the team had to deal with, it still came
within a few big plays of finishing 12-1. But that's getting greedy
after the program's best season since 1991.
Head coach: Steve Kragthorpe
4th year: 21-17
Off. 17, Def. 22, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 15
Best Tulsa Players
1. LB Nick Bunting, Sr.
2. FS Bobby Blackshire, Sr.
3. S Kedrick Alexander, Sr.
4. QB Paul Smith, Jr.
5. OT Jeff Perrett, Sr.
6. LB Nelson Coleman, Jr.
7. CB Nick Graham, Sr.
8. LB Chris Chamberlain, Jr.
9. RB Tarrion Adams, Soph.
10. RB Brandon Diles, Sr.
Stephen F. Austin
at East Carolina
2005 Results: 9-4
2005 predicted wins
Minnesota L 41-10
at Oklahoma L 31-15
at North Texas
Memphis W 37-31 OT
at So Miss W 34-17
Rice W 41-21
at UTEP L 41-38
at Tulane W 38-14
UCF W 41-27
Fresno State W 31-24
Steve Kragthorpe took one of America's worst programs and made it
competitive with the breakout 2003 season followed up by the huge
4-8 disappointment in 2004. Now the Golden Hurricane doesn't have to
just meet expectations, it has to exceed them and can't fall flat
like it did two years ago. There's hardly much chance of that
happening with as much talent as anyone in the league.
As good as last year's team was, the potential is there to be
even better with 42 lettermen returning including QB Paul Smith, four
starters to the offensive line, and most of a defense that should be the
best in the league.
Most importantly, the team has to be
every bit as rock solid after finishing fourth in the nation in turnover
margin, committed 21 fewer penalties than its opponents, and was a
consistent, efficient offensive machine after the losses to Minnesota
There are a few concerns to worry about. All-America tight end Garrett
Mills and top receiver Ashlan Davis are gone leaving two gaping holes.
The run defense might not have been as bad as the final numbers would
indicate thanks to all the great ground games it faced, but more
consistency from the defensive line would be nice. And then there are
the expectations. With this team, anything less than another Conference
USA title will be a major disappointment.
Will Kragthorpe start getting a few calls from the bigger schools? He
hasn't had to deal with the spotlight of being the new hot coach on the
block quite yet, but that will quickly change after what he has been
able to accomplish. As long as he's around for another few years, the
window is still wide open for this team to win multiple titles. Coming
up with two straight would be just fine for now.
There's not a game on the schedule Tulsa can't win since with no games
against BCS league teams and with the toughest non-conference games at BYU
and at Navy. There's a tough conference stretch of three road games in
four weeks with the one home oasis against UTEP for what might be the
West Division title. Things ease up late playing at SMU and at home
against Tulane, so if the Golden Hurricane can survive the midseason, it
should be another good year.
Offensive Player: Junior QB Paul Smith. UTEP's Jordan Palmer and
Houston's Kevin Kolb will get all the national publicity and all the
headlines, but Smith might be the best quarterback in the league. He's a
steadier, mistake-free passer who did a great job of coming through when
he had to while Palmer, Kolb and UAB's Darrell Hackney were melting down
in the conference race.
Defensive Player: Senior LB Nick Bunting. This went from being a
no-brainer to very, very debatable over the last year. Bunting is the
leader of the defense with 252 career tackles, but free safety Bobby
Blackshire, middle linebacker Nelson Coleman, and the return of safety
Kedrick Alexander make it a race for the honor of being the team's best
defender. In other words, there are plenty of playmakers on the Tulsa
to a successful season: Senior WR Idris Moss. It's easy to be an
efficient passer when you have a tight end like Garrett Mills and a deep
threat like Ashlan Davis to throw to. Those two are gone with the
leading returning wide receiver, Moss, back after finishing fifth on the
team in catches. He might not be explosive, but he has to be a reliable
target on the inside.
will be a success if ... Tulsa wins the Conference USA title. This is the league's best
team and anything less than a second straight championship will be seen
as a failure no matter what else the team does.
Oct 27 vs. UTEP. The following week's game at Houston might not mean
much if Tulsa can't get by UTEP. The Miners won last year's showdown
41-38 but couldn't take advantage losing its final two conference games
to allow Tulsa to backdoor its way in to the division title.
- Turnovers: Opponents 36 - Tulsa 18
- Third down conversions: Tulsa 95 of 195 (49%) - Opponents 72 of 183
- Interception return average: Opponents 33.6 yards per return on 8
interceptions - Tulsa 7.8 yards per return on 22 interceptions
The Last Time Tulsa…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Liberty Bowl vs. Fresno State)
…missed a bowl game…2004
…pitched a shutout…2002 (UTEP)
…was shutout…2004 (Navy)
…scored 50 points…2005 (North Texas)
…won a conference title…2005 (C-USA)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…1965 (Billy Guy Anderson)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2004 (Uril Parrish)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2005 (Garrett Mills)
…had a first-round draft choice…1977 (G Steve August)