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2008 Tulsa Golden Hurricane Preview
Tulsa FB Charles Clay
Tulsa FB Charles Clay
Posted May 4, 2008

Who led the nation in offense last year? Texas Tech? Hawaii? Nope, it was Tulsa, and the Golden Hurricane should put up huge numbers again with its high-octane attack. Check out the CFN Preview for one of the Conference USA favorites along with their opening day opponent, UAB.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Preview 2008

By Richard Cirminiello    

2008 CFN Tulsa Preview | 2008 Tulsa Offense Preview
- 2008 Tulsa Defense Preview
| 2008 Tulsa Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Tulsa Preview | 2006 CFN Tulsa Preview 

Preview UAB's Opening Day Opponent
2008 CFN UAB Preview

Interested in blogging about Conference USA football?  Let us know

Head coach: Todd Graham
2nd year: 10-4
3rd year overall: 17-10
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 18, Def. 18, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 13
Ten Best Tulsa Players
1. WR Brennan Marion, Sr.
2. RB Tarrion Adams, Sr.
3. WR Trae Johnson, Soph.
4. DE Moton Hopkins, Sr.
5. FB Charles Clay, Soph.
6. S Roy Roberts, Sr.
7. RB Courtney Tennial, Sr.
8. RT Rodrick Thomas, Sr.
9. RG Justin Morsey, Sr.
10. LB Mike Bryan, Jr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record:

Aug. 30 at UAB
Sept. 6 at North Texas
Sept. 13 OPEN DATE
Sept. 20 New Mexico
Sept. 27 Central Arkansas
Oct. 4 Rice
Oct. 11 at SMU
Oct. 18 UTEP
Oct. 26 UCF
Nov. 1 at Arkansas
Nov. 15 at Houston
Nov. 22 Tulane
Nov. 29 at Marshall

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Results: 10-

Aug. 30 at UL Monroe W 35-17
Sept. 15 BYU W 55-47
Sept. 21 Oklahoma L 62-21
Sept. 29
UAB W 38-30
Oct. 6 at UTEP L 48-47
Oct. 13 Marshall W 38-31
Oct. 20 at UCF L 44-23
Oct. 27
SMU W 29-23
Nov. 3 at Tulane W 49-25
Nov. 10 Houston W 56-7
Nov. 17 at Army W 49-39
Nov. 24 at Rice W 48-43
Conference USA Championship
Dec. 1 UCF L 44-25
Jan. 6 Bowling Green W 63-7

With or without record-setting QB Paul Smith, the Hurricane plans to keep the good times rolling in 2008.

Whether Steve Kragthorpe or Todd Graham is on the sidelines, it’s become clear that Tulsa is a place where you can win consistently in Conference USA and attract high quality depth and talent.  Of course, it didn’t hurt having Gus Malzahn on staff, the mad scientist behind a hurry-up, no-huddle offense that cranked out 41 points and a nation’s-high 544 yards a game in 2007.  Even without its triggerman at the controls, there’s enough supporting talent, including last year’s top six pass-catchers and four starting linemen, to be just as efficient in Year 2 of the new regime.

After coming close a year ago, Tulsa wants to take the next step by winning a league championship.  Eventually, Graham envisions the school contending for a BCS bowl game, much the way Utah and Hawaii have done in the last few years.  While the offense may not skip a beat, the Hurricane needs to stiffen on defense, no small request considering how much senior talent is no longer on campus. 

What to watch for on offense: A star will be born as soon as the staff decides on its next starting quarterback. The offense under Malzahn is that prolific.  The early edge goes to David Johnson, who backed up Smith for three seasons and spent a year in the system.  However, he’s no lock to win the job, and will get challenged by Clark Harrell and Jacob Bower, a coveted JUCO recruit.  The transition to a new starter will be made easier by the presence of a veteran line and 1,000-yard receivers Brennan Marion, Trae Johnson, and Charles Clay.  As if the Hurricane needs more weapons, the program’s leading rushers from the last two years are also back.  Tarrion Adams ran for 1,225 yards and caught 30 passes after starter Courtney Tennial was lost with a season-ending Achilles injury.         

What to watch for on defense: Even more than the need to develop a quarterback, Tulsa has to remake a defense that allowed more than 40 points to six opponents, and graduated its best defenders.  The linebackers, the backbone of the D, have been robbed of three all-league players, and the secondary needs a refresher course on how to stop the pass.  The Hurricane is banking on holdovers Mike Bryan and Tanner Antle, and junior college transfer Kaipo Sarkissian to fill the voids at linebacker on a defense that’s putting out APBs for consistent stoppers.  For a pick-me-up, the coaches will point to all-conference end Moton Hopkins, who led the linemen in tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks a year ago. 

The team will be far better if … the defense can create more turnovers.  Graham was supposed to bring an attacking D that generated a bunch of picks and fumble recoveries, but that didn’t happen a year ago.  While the Hurricane is going to allow a lot of yards and a number of big plays, it can compensate for those shortcomings by occasionally getting the ball back in the hands of the offense with better field position.  

The Schedule:
The Golden Hurricane gets its rest early with an off-week to open the season and then the other coming two weeks later after a trip to North Texas. And then it's a marathon with 11 games in 11 weeks. The odd schedule gets even more bizarre with five home games in a six week span before closing out with four road trips in the final five weeks. Getting UCF at home is a plus, and going to Marshall from the East isn't so bad, but the Houston game is on the road. The non-conference slate is eclectic with home games against Central Arkansas and New Mexico along with trips to North Texas and Arkansas.

Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Brennan Marion.  Out of nowhere, Marion emerged into the field-stretcher on the outside that this offense was craving.  In his first season out of junior college, he averaged an NCAA-record 31.9 yards on 39 receptions, blowing past secondaries with stunning ease and regularity.  Marion still has room to get better, a scary thought for Conference USA defensive backfields.   

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Moton Hopkins.  On a defense that lost so many veterans, Hopkins is easily the best returning player.  A terrific run stopper at 6-3 and 270 pounds, he parlayed 71 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and three sacks into a spot on the All-Conference USA Second Team.  Hopkins can get to the first team this fall by bagging a few more sacks to go along with all of those tackles.               

Key player to a successful season: Senior QB David Johnson.  If the Tulsa offense is to remain on the tracks, it needs a quarterback to step up and lessen the blow of losing Smith to graduation.  Now in his fifth year in the program, Johnson is the logical choice to run the offense and get the ball in the hands of the numerous playmakers.  If he can’t cut it, Harrell or Bower will be handed a chance to become a household name and a statistical heavyweight.

The season will be a success if ... the Golden Hurricane wins the Conference USA championship.  After falling a game short last year, expectations will again be high, especially with so much talent returning to the high-octane offense.  Tulsa will be favored to win the West, and is on par with whoever emerges from a deep and muddled East Division.

Key game: Nov. 15 at Houston.  The Hurricane and Cougars are the best of the West, making this meeting at Robertson Stadium a pivotal game for division supremacy and a spot in the league championship game.  Tulsa obliterated Houston, 56-7, last November, adding an element of revenge to an already meaningful and interesting match up.  

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Second Quarter Score: Opponents 170  - Tulsa 154
- Passing touchdowns: Tulsa 43 - Opponents 28
- Total offense: Tulsa 542.5 yards per game - Opponents 469 yards