Tulsa Preview 2006
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Posted Aug 6, 2006

Take a look at what Tulsa had to overcome to be the Conference USA champions on the way to a fantastic nine-win season.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

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
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 17, Def. 22, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 15
Ten 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.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: coming

8/31 Stephen F. Austin
9/9 at BYU
9/16 North Texas
9/23 at Navy
10/3 Southern Miss
10/14 at East Carolina
10/21 at Memphis
10/27 UTEP
11/4 at Houston
11/11 Rice
11/18 at SMU
11/24 Tulane

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Results: 9-4

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 Minnesota L 41-10
9/10 at Oklahoma L 31-15
9/17 at North Texas W 54-2
9/24 Memphis W 37-31 OT
10/1 Houston L 30-23
10/8 at So Miss W 34-17
10/15 at Rice W 41-21
10/22 SMU W 20-13
11/5 at UTEP L 41-38
11/12 East Carolina W 45-13
11/19 at Tulane W 38-14
12/3 C-USA Championship
UCF W 41-27
12/31 Liberty Bowl
Fresno State W 31-24

Head coach 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 and Oklahoma.

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.

The Schedule: 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.

Best 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.

Best 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 defense.

Key player 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.

The season 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.

Key game: 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.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Turnovers: Opponents 36 - Tulsa 18
- Third down conversions: Tulsa 95 of 195 (49%) - Opponents 72 of 183 (39%)
- 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)
…went undefeated…1922
…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)

Related Stories
Tulsa Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 6, 2006
Tulsa Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 6, 2006
Tulsa Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 6, 2006

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