Tulsa Golden Hurricane
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Head coach: Todd Graham
2nd year: 10-4
3rd year overall: 17-10
Off. 18, Def. 18, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 13
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.
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. 8 OPEN DATE
Nov. 15 at Houston
Nov. 22 Tulane
Nov. 29 at Marshall
2007 Results: 10-4
at UL Monroe
Sept. 15 BYU
Sept. 21 Oklahoma L 62-21
UAB W 38-30
UCF L 44-23
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.
2007 Fun Stats:
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.
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
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
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.
- Second Quarter Score: Opponents 170 - Tulsa 154
- Passing touchdowns: Tulsa 43 - Opponents 28
- Total offense: Tulsa 542.5 yards per game - Opponents 469 yards