CFN Take: Tulsa Can't Keep Up With ECU
Tulsa Golden Hurricane 2014 ...
Head Coach: Bill Blankenship
2014 Tulsa Golden
Nov. 28 East Carolina 49, at Tulsa 32
Aug. 28 Tulane W 38-31
Sep. 6 Oklahoma L 52-7
Sep. 13 at Fla Atlantic L 50-21
Sep. 19 OPEN DATE
Sep. 27 Texas St L 37-34 3OT
Oct. 4 at Colorado St L 42-17
Oct. 11 at Temple L 35-24
Oct. 18 USF L 38-30
Oct. 25 OPEN DATE
Oct. 31 at Memphis L 40-20
Nov. 8 SMU W 38-28
Nov. 14 at UCF L 31-7
Nov. 22 at Houston L 38-28
Nov. 28 East Carolina W 49-32
And You Care Because … Just when it seemed like East Carolina was in trouble after Tulsa pulled within 28-25 late in the third on a 30-yard Keyarris Garrett touchdown catch, the scoring run came with Cory Hunter and Shane Carden each running for short scores, and Brandon Williams coming up with a pick six for a 21-point second half explosion. Tulsa got a blocked punt for a score and a five-yard D’Angelo Brewer touchdown run, but Carden came up with three touchdown passes with two to Bryce Williams from 15 and 12 yards out and a 16-yarder to Jimmy Williams before pulling away late.
What Else? Total yards: East Carolina 510 – Tulsa 388
- East Carolina QB Shane Carden completed 28-of-41 passes for 338 yards and four touchdowns with a pick, and ran nine times for nine yards and a touchdown
- Tulsa QB Dane Evans completed 15-of-32 passes for 199 yards and a score with two touchdowns and ran six times for 31 yards
- East Carolina WR Justin Hardy caught nine passes for 88 yards and a touchdown
Game Rating: C+
Nov. 22 at Houston 38, Tulsa 28
And You Care Because … Kenneth Farrow ran for two-one-yard runs to give Houston an early 14 point lead, and ran for a 45-yard scoring dash, but Tulsa was able to tie it up on two short touchdown runs and a 17-yard Keyarris Garrett scoring pass. With the score tied at 28 late, Houston scored ten unanswered points on a two-yard Kenneth Farrow run and a 35-yard Kyle Bullard field goal. Tulsa turned it over three times with a late pick from Adrian McDonald leading to the late field goal.
What Else? Houston RB Kenneth Farrow ran 21 times for 116 yards and four scores
- Tulsa QB Dane Evans completed 28-of-40 passes for 258 yards and two scores with three interceptions, and ran six times for 34 yards and a touchdown
- Houston QB Greg Ward Jr. completed 17-of-22 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown and ran eight times for 37 yards
- Time of possession: Tulsa 33:11 – Houston 26:49
Game Rating: B
Nov. 15 at UCF 31, Tulsa 7
And You Care Because … UCF got up early with a 17-0 lead on two Justin Holman touchdown passes including a 77-yarder to Josh Reese. Tulsa finally got on the board late in the first half on an eight-yard Keevan Lucas catch, but that would be it for the offense. UCF scored 14 unanswered points, all coming in the third on Holman’s third touchdown pass and a one-yard Dontravious Wilson run.
What Else? Total yards: UCF 506 – Tulsa 201
- UCF QB Justin Holman completed 16-of-27 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns
- Tulsa QB Dane Evans completed 9-of-28 passes for 69 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions
- Time of possession: UCF 37:02 – Tulsa 22:58
Game Rating: D
Nov. 8 at Tulsa 38, SMU 28
And You Care Because … Dane Evans threw five touchdown passes including two to Keevan Lucas in the second quarter and two to Keyarris Garrett on the way to a 35-13 third quarter lead. SMU turned it over three times, but the offense got off to a hot start as Der’rikk Thompson started out the scoring with a 64-yard touchdown on the team’s first offensive play. Matt Davis ran for two fourth quarter touchdowns to pull the Mustangs within seven late, but Tulsa put it away with a 24-yard field goal with just over a minute to play.
What Else? Tulsa QB Dane Evans completed 16-of-24 passes for 286 yards and five touchdowns
- SMU QB Matt Davis completed 21-of-32 passes for 212 yards and a score with two interceptions, and ran 28 times for 181 yards and two scores
- Tulsa WR Keyarris Garrett caught four passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns, and Keevan Lucas caught four passes for 88 yards and two scores
- Total yards: Tulsa 501 – SMU 464
Game Rating: B
Oct. 31 at Memphis 40, Tulsa 20
And You Care Because … Memphis overcame a 14-3 deficit on an early lost fumble for a touchdown and a 28-yard Derek Patterson scoring catch by ripping off 30 straight points on three of Josh Elliott’s four field goals, a three-yard Paxton Lynch scoring run, and Brandon Hayes scoring runs from 51 and 30 yards out. Tulsa tried to come back late with Dane Evans’ second touchdown pass of the game, but Hayes kept on rolling with a 14-yard score in the final minutes.
What Else? Penalties: Tulsa 12 for 111 yards – Memphis 4 for 40 yards
- Memphis RB Brandon Hayes ran 29 times for 199 yards and three scores
- Tulsa QB Dane Evans completed 28-of-54 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns
- Time of possession: Tulsa 33:56 – Memphis 24:22
Game Rating: C-
Oct. 18 South Florida 38, at Tulsa 30
And You Care Because … Down 30-14 midway through the third quarter, USF scored 24 unanswered points on three Mike White touchdown passes to Andre Davis on plays from 15, 15 and 85 yards out, and put the game away on a 28-yard Marvin Kloss field goal. Tulsa seemed to have control of the game with a Austin McDaniel pick six, an 18-yard touchdown run from Bishop Louie and an eight-yard Keevan Lucas scoring grab, but penalties and stalled drives turned the game around. Carl Salazar’s third field goal was Tulsa’s only second half score.
What Else? Tulsa QB Dane Evans completed 22-of-34 passes for 314 yards and a touchdown
- Penalties: Tulsa 11 for 114 yards – South Florida 7 for 77 yards
- USF QB Mike White completed 17-of-26 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns with an interception
- USF WR Andre Davis caught six passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns, and Marlon Mack ran 19 times for 130 yards and two scores
Game Rating: A-
Oct. 11 at Temple 35, Tulsa 24
And You Care Because … Temple rallied in the fourth quarter on two P.J. Walker touchdown passes, hitting Jalen Fitzpatrick on a 30-yard play for the lead, and a 20-yard play to Jahad Thomas to put it away. Walker also ran for a touchdown for the owls, and Kenneth Harper and Connor Reilly added short scoring runs, but two turnovers proved to be costly as Tulsa stayed alive on two Dane Evans touchdown passes and two Zack Langer field goals. But the Owls took control in the fourth quarter.
What Else? Time of possession: Tulsa 36:34 – Temple 23:26
- Temple QB P.J. Walker completed 15-of-31 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns with a pick, and ran for a touchdown
- Tulsa RB Zack Langer ran 30 times for 113 yards and a touchdown
- Temple RB Jahad Thomas ran 14 times for 152 yards, and caught a 20-yard touchdown pass. Jalen Fitzpatrick (107) and Jamie Gilmore (100) each hit the 100-yard mark.
Game Rating: B-
Oct. 4 at Colorado State 42, Tulsa 17
And You Care Because … Rashard Higgins caught three first half touchdown passes from 28, 31 and 73 yards out, and added a 36-yard touchdown in the fourth, and Dee Hart ran for touchdowns from 15 and 13 yards away in the blowout. Tulsa tried to stay alive with a one-yard Dane Evans run and a 62-yard pass play to Keevan Lucas, but never got close.
What Else? Colorado State WR Rashard Higgins caught six passes for 178 yards and four touchdowns
- Tulsa QB Dane Evans completed 16-of-29 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown with two picks, and ran 16 times for 22 yards and a score
- Colorado State RB Dee Hart ran 11 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns
- Yards per carry: Colorado State 7.5 – Tulsa 2.8
Game Rating: C-
Sept. 27 Texas State 37, at Tulsa 34 3OT
And You Care Because … In the third overtime, Tulsa came up with a Carl Salazar field goal, and Texas State answered with a two-yard Terrence Franks touchdown run to finish off the wild win. Down 17-3 going into the fourth, Tulsa stormed back with Dane Evans throwing a 17-yard touchdown pass to Conner Floyd with just under ten minutes to play and capping off a 17-play drive with a one-yard score with ten seconds left to force OT. He stayed hot with a ten-yard Keevan Lucas scoring grab, but Texas State answered with its first touchdown since early in the third on a five-yard Jafus Gaines catch. The two teams traded touchdowns in the second overtime with Ben Ijah scoring for the Bobcats and Zach Langer answered with a four-yard score for Tulsa, but the third OT drive stalled leading to the field goal that Texas State was able to better.
What Else? Texas State RB Terrence Franks ran 20 times for 71 yards and two scores
- Tulsa QB Dane Evans completed 23-of-40 passes for 234 yards and two touchdown with an interception and a touchdown run
- Texas State QB Tyler Jones completed 21-of-31 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns, and ran 20 times for 51 yards and a score
- Tulsa WR Keyarris Garrett caught eight passes for 117 yards
Game Rating: A-
Sept. 13 at Florida Atlantic 50, Tulsa 21
And You Care Because … FAU got its first win of the year as Jacquez Johnson completed 15-of-20 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns and he ran for a score. Tulsa turned it over three times and was never in the game. FAU took a 17-0 first quarter lead and got up 33-7 going into halftime on a 59-yard touchdown catch from Henson Stoshak. Tulsa was outgained 518 yards to 363 and couldn’t stop giving up the really big pass play – FAU averaged 14.8 yards per pass.
Game Rating: D
Sept. 6 Oklahoma 52, at Tulsa 7
And You Care Because … The Sooners blew up for close to 600 yards on the day and rolled to a 31-0 field half lead helped by an 82-yard scoring dash from Alex Ross and a 31-yard touchdown run from Trevor Knight. Keith Ford started out the scoring with a seven-yard touchdown run and came up with a 23-yard score in the third.
What Else? Trevor Knight wasn’t accurate, but he made his throws count completing 21-of-34 passes for 299 yards and two scores, and running five times for 35 yards and a score.
- Sterling Shepard caught eight passes for 177 yards and a touchdown, but Knight did a nice job of spread the passing game around.
- Tulsa’s offense moved the ball, but nothing came out of it other than a Keevan Lucas touchdown catch. He led the way with ten catches for 84 yards and a score.
- The Golden Hurricane was -4 in turnover margin with OU generating a 38-yard pick six from Geneo Grissom.
Game Rating: D
2014 Tulsa Preview
Now that the Hurricane has died down, can it regain its bluster?
This figures to be a challenging year for head coach Bill Blankenship. His Tulsa team is not only coming off its worst season in over a decade, but it must rebuild in a new league, the American, without its best offensive and defensive players. The coach and his staff will use the purging as an opportunity to start anew, with fierce competition for jobs happening on both sides of the ball. The Hurricane needs to get back to what it does best, running the ball with authority and creating defensive havoc.
Prior to last season, Tulsa was among the steadiest of the mid-majors, winning at least eight games in eight of the last 10 seasons. And in 2005 and 2012, the Hurricane were Conference USA champs. But in 2013, the bottom fell out. It was one of those dreadful campaigns that every program endures eventually. Now, Tulsa is going to be measured on how long it stays down.
The Hurricane’s biggest concerns, by far, will be on a turnover-prone offense that ranked 103rd nationally in scoring. The backfield will be ground zero for the hand-wringing and sleepless nights in Tulsa. The program is in the market for a reliable quarterback and a feature back now that last season’s top two rushers have graduated. Sophomore QB Dane Evans ended spring atop the depth chart, but he was a disaster in five starts last year. At running back, James Flanders holds an edge on Tavarreon Dickerson, a transfer from Trinity Valley (Tex.) Community College.
Optimism for 2014 can be found on defense, where just a single starter needs to be replaced. The unit has the parts to be profoundly tighter, especially since FS Marco Nelson and LB Trent Martin are back from an academic suspension and a leg injury, respectively. The D will be good enough to shoulder the load until the offense finds more support for Keyarris Garrett and the rest of an up-and-coming corps of receivers.
Tulsa is down. Blankenship wants to be sure it’s not there for long. The Hurricane will have even less margin for error—and familiarity—this season, as the program begins life in the American. If the backfield is able to regroup on the fly, this team has enough talent elsewhere to turn 2013 into a fluky, one-year departure from business as usual.
What to watch for on offense: Keeping the focus on the ground. Tulsa is a ground-and-pound program that’s at its best when multiple backs are gobbling up yards between the hashes. So, it’s no surprise that the team finished below .500 the last two years it failed to rush for 2,000 yards. Last season’s top two runners, Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas, have exhausted their eligibility, which will heap pressure on James Flanders and Tavarreon Dickerson. Flanders ran well throughout the spring, as did Dickerson before fracturing his collarbone.
What to watch for on defense: Competition at linebacker. The Hurricane’s only departing starter is a good one, all-league LB Shawn Jackson. His successor will be one of the seasoned vets on the roster, right? Not necessarily. At the end of spring, a couple of redshirt freshman, Craig Suits and C.J. Gooden, were atop the depth chart at Cane and weakside, respectively. Mitchell Osborne, who’s earned three letters at Tulsa, could still beat out Suits, but a message has been sent that youth might be served at linebacker this fall.
The team will be far better if … the Hurricane can solve its turnover problem. Tulsa has long been skilled at creating takeaways, but momentum-changing plays on defense were offset last year by a mess of offensive mistakes. The Hurricane tuned the ball over 34 times, which was the third most in the country. While the inconsistent play of the quarterbacks was an obvious problem, so was an inability to get a handle on the ball. Tulsa doesn’t have enough of a margin of error to be so careless with the ball again in 2014.
The Schedule: The Golden Hurricane are off and running right away with a conference date against Tulane to kick things off, and while they have to deal with Oklahoma, three of the first four games are at home and the road date at Florida Atlantic isn’t bad. And then comes the hard part going on the road for three of the next four games and five of the next seven before closing out against a loaded East Carolina team at home. Tulsa has to go to UCF and Houston in a brutal back-to-back November stretch, and overall there aren’t any true breathers.
Best Offensive Player: Junior WR Keyarris Garrett. Garrett is back after missing almost all of 2013 to a serious leg injury. And the Hurricane quarterbacks couldn’t be much happier about the development. Garrett creates all kinds of matchup problems with his prodigious size and leaping ability. He can also turn bad balls into big plays, which he’ll get to do often at Tulsa. The Hurricane ranked 122nd in pass efficiency rating last season, completing just 49% of its passes and throwing 19 interceptions.
Best Defensive Player: Senior FS Marco Nelson. The fact that Nelson missed all of last season because of academics will wind up being a blessing for the 2014 team. He alone wasn’t going to transform the three-win 2013 edition, and now he’s back to spearhead the rebuilding effort on defense. Nelson is a gifted all-around defensive back, with 39 career starts and a history of all-star appearances. He’ll be rejoining a defensive backfield that didn’t lose a single letterwinner from a year ago to graduation.
Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Dane Evans. If Tulsa’s play at quarterback even remotely resembles 2013, the program will again finish below .500. The Hurricane was an atrocious passing team last year, with Evans contributing to the follies as a five-game starter. The 6-2, 210-pounder improved in the spring to build separation on the competition. But, seriously, the only way was up after he completed 43% of his passes and threw six more picks than touchdowns.
The season will be a success if ... the Hurricane makes a return engagement to the postseason. Sure, Tulsa failed epically by going 3-9 in a year that it believed it could win back-to-back Conference USA titles. But this program knows how to win and it returns a ton of veterans. Not only will it play this season with something to prove, but it’ll do so against a relatively manageable, save for a Sept. 6 visit from Oklahoma and a wicked three-game stretch to close out the regular season.
Key game: Nov. 8 vs. SMU. If Tulsa has designs on bowling in December, it better gobble up wins when it can, because the year ends with trips to UCF and Houston and a visit from East Carolina. If the Hurricane rights the ship in the early going the game with the Mustangs could be to lock up bowl-eligibility. Tulsa-SMU will be a renewal of a rivalry that heated up when both were members of Conference USA from 2005-20012 and the WAC from 1996-2004.
2013 Fun Stats:
- Turnovers: Tulsa 34 – Opponents 24
- Touchdowns scored: Tulsa 29 – Opponents 52
- Sacks: Tulsa 31 - Opponents 10
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