2010 Tulsa Preview - Offense
Tulsa WR Damaris Johnson
CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Tulsa Golden Hurricane Offense
Preview 2010 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: Was last year's decline in offensive production due to a change at coordinator, breaking in a new quarterback, or the dreadful play of the line? How about all of the above? The 2009 squad, while potent by some standards, was a shell of itself, accounting for 18 fewer points and 155 fewer yards a game compared to 2008. Tulsa will continue to go with the hurry-up, no huddle system, mixing in the run with the pass. Promising news comes from the return of nine starters, including QB G.J. Kinne and one of the nation's best set of receivers from a non-BCS conference. Rebounding, however, hinges on the play of an offensive line that suffered myriad injuries a year ago and ranked 118th nationally in pass protection. If it can't evolve, much of the playmaking ability from the likes of Damaris Johnson and Charles Clay will again be neutralized.
Star of the offense: Junior WR Damaris Johnson
Passing: G.J. Kinne
210-345, 2,732 yds, 22 TDs, 10 INTs
Rushing: G.J. Kinne
151 carries, 393 yds, 5 TDs
Receiving: Damaris Johnson
78 catches, 1,131 yds, 3 TD
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior RT Brandon Thomas
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Ricky Johnson
Best pro prospect: Senior H-back Charles Clay
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Johnson, 2) Clay, 3) Junior QB G.J. Kinne
Strength of the offense: The passing game, the receivers
Weakness of the offense: Turnovers, pass protection, third down conversions, red zone scoring
Projected Starter: Even through the inconsistent stretches, 6-2, 219-pound junior G.J. Kinne showed why he's the quarterback of the future at Tulsa. A versatile and athletic former transfer from Texas, he put up decent numbers in an offense ideally suited for the position. As a passer, he was up and down, finishing 210-of-345 for 2,732 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He throws well on the move, a job requirement playing behind the Hurricane line. As a runner, he was fearless, going for 399 yards and five touchdowns. If the game slows down and the blockers do a better job of protection, he has the skill set and supporting cast to really light it up in Year 2 as the triggerman.
Projected Top Reserves: Now that Jacob Bower has transferred to McNeese State, 6-3, 190-pound sophomore Shavodrick Beaver has officially been installed as the backup. The clear-cut future at the position, he de-committed from Michigan and Rich Rodriguez a couple of years ago in order to play for Tulsa. A tall and sleek athlete, he needs work on his passing skills, but has exciting upside when he leaves the pocket.
Rounding out the depth chart will be 6-0, 180-pound Lucas DeVilliers, who's strictly an emergency backup. He ran a similar offense in high school and moves well outside the pocket, but doesn't have the arm strength of Kinne or Beaver.
Watch Out For .... a better protected Kinne to begin breaking out in his second season. Last year's problems had a lot to do with the blocking, and he clearly has the right mix of talent to flourish in this system. With a full season in the vault, he's already looked like a more confident player during offseason drills.
Strength: Improv skills. In Kinne and Beaver, the Hurricane has a couple of terrific athletes, who'll do a lot more than just buy time with their feet. Take away all the sacks in 2009, and Kinne rushed for 711 yards and five scores. Oh, and Beaver might be the more dangerous of the pair.
Weakness: Consistency in the passing game. Again, not all his fault, but Kinne wasn't your typical Hurricane record-breaker a year ago, missing too many receivers and failing to assault the record books, like the his recent predecessors. It's a process that had a few more kinks than expected.
Outlook: If last season was a learning experience, then go ahead and consider Kinne to be well-read heading into 2010. He's grown considerably since winning the job a year ago, and is poised to become one of Conference USA's best all-around playmakers at the position. In an ideal situation, the staff can get more reps for Beaver than the mop-up duty he received in seven games last fall.
Projected Starters: When the quarterback wasn't scrambling, Tulsa's first option in the running game was 5-9, 212-pound senior Jamad Williams. A proven veteran, with three letters of experience, he pounded his way to 389 yards and a touchdown on 101 carries. A former defensive back, he won't shy away from contact, often lowering his shoulder and driving forward for more yards. He had trouble generating big plays last season, but in his defense, rarely enjoyed much running room or space to operate. A decent pass-catcher, a must in this system, he had 11 receptions for 86 yards and a score a year ago.
Projected Top Reserves: Moving up in the pecking order at tailback is 6-1, 245-pound sophomore Alex Singleton, who hasn't let his single game of experience hinder him. He's had an outstanding offseason, getting stronger and getting a better grasp on the system. The only moves he has are north and south, but when he gets a head of steam, he's capable of obliterating anything in his path. In short yardage, he could be the choice for the Hurricane.
Running third following spring was 5-11, 199-pound redshirt freshman Trey Watts, the son of former Oklahoma QB J.C. Watts. Although he arrived as a walk-on, he's impressed the coaching staff with his work ethic and hard running, a combination that could reap him snaps in an open race for playing time this fall.
Watch Out For … the arrival of transfer Derrick Hall. There's hope he'll become the next in a growing line of successful Hurricane players, who began their careers at bigger programs. When Hall signed with Texas A&M in 2008, he was a blue-chipper, with blazing speed, and will get every opportunity to play here.
Strength: Power runners. From Williams on down, all of the Hurricane backs go at least 200 pounds and, with proper support, can do damage between the tackles. They also have good hands as receivers out of the backfield, a job requirement in this attack.
Weakness: A bona fide feature back. Williams will get first dibs, but there's debate whether he ought to get 15 touches a game, especially after averaging less than four yards a carry in 2009. Unless your Navy or Air Force, it's never a good sign about the overall talent level when the quarterback leads the team in rushing.
Outlook: Williams is a decent, veteran option when he doesn't have to make his own yards. The real excitement, however, surrounds Hall, who has the size-speed combination to ignite the running game and become a multi-dimensional tool on offense.
Unit Rating: 5
Projected Starters: At wide receiver, Tulsa has access to one of the most exciting playmakers in Conference USA, 5-8, 170-pound junior Damaris Johnson. A do-everything weapon on offense and special teams, he led the nation with 224 all-purpose yards a game in 2009. Instant energy with the ball in his hands, he rushed for 175 yards, caught 78 passes for 1,131 yards and three touchdowns, and was among the nation's most dangerous return men. In one three-game stretch in November, he was unstoppable, catching 41 balls and commanding the attention of multiple defensive backs. Speedy and slippery, he's a defense's worst nightmare in the open field.
At flanker, 5-9, 176-pound senior A.J. Whitmore takes three seasons of experience and an intimate knowledge of the offense into his final year of eligibility. A poor-man's Johnson because of his versatility and shiftiness, he'll make plays as a receiver and a runner on inside handoffs and end-arounds. After catching just 26 passes for 238 yards and a score, and running for 67 yards and two touchdowns, he's ready to deliver his best season as a Hurricane.
Although he's getting pushed hard in the race at split end, it's impossible to ignore the experience or big-play ability of 5-11, 190-pound senior Trae Johnson. He's had a strange career that began with 70 receptions and 13 touchdowns, yet has become increasingly quiet and underutilized. However, when the opportunities come, he's quick to deliver, reaching the end zone on every five career receptions. In 2009, for instance, he had just 22 catches for 311 yards, but scored eight touchdowns. An enigma, he still has the separation speed to remain a key factor in this offense.
Is 6-3, 234-pound senior Charles Clay a fullback, tailback, or tight end? Yes. Actually, he's Tulsa's H-back and one of the league's most versatile offensive players. An outstanding all-around athlete, with a long frame to boot, he's been used like a Swiss Army knife by the staff over the last three years. A bona fide NFL prospect and seam-buster, he was second on the team with 39 catches for 530 yards and five touchdowns, while running 63 times for 236 yards and seven more scores. He has great hands, challenging the staff to find new ways to get him the ball.
Projected Top Reserves: Giving Trae Johnson all he can handle at split end is 6-2, 201-pound sophomore Ricky Johnson, a budding superstar in this offense. A de-commit from Arkansas just before signing day, he has the 4.4 speed and long frame to toy with opposing defensive backs once he gets more comfortable in the system. In nine games a year ago, he showed flashes of what's to come, catching eight passes for 111 yards and two scores.
Tulsa received great news in June when 6-3, 229-pound sophomore Jameel Owens was granted an NCAA waiver to play immediately. The Oklahoma transfer made the move to be closer to his mother, who's suffering with health issues. One of the nation's premier wide receiver prospects of 2008, he has the size, speed, and hands to quickly flatten the learning curve that comes with starting over in an entirely new system.
Behind Clay at the bigger back position is 6-2, 206-pound redshirt freshman Willie Carter. He displayed big-play potential in April, and already has the size and strength to contribute at this level. With three experienced runners ahead of him, he'll have the luxury of being brought along slowly in this debut season.
Watch Out For … Owens' assimilation into the offense. Although he hasn't been here very long, he's just oozing potential, a Big 12 talent facing Conference USA defensive backs. He's raw and it's early in the process, but if all goes as planned he might someday be a Terrell Owens-esque force in the passing game.
Strength: Talent. The receivers will offer a little bit of everything for the quarterbacks, from the size of Clay and Owens to the playmaking ability of the three Johnsons. If everyone can be kept relatively well-fed, this group is going to feast on most opposing secondaries in the fall.
Weakness: Consistency. While the raw talent is beyond criticism, the little things still need to be refined. To take their game to another level, the wideouts and H-backs would be well-served to reduce the number of drops, run tighter routes, and improve in downfield blocking.
Outlook: Absolutely loaded. While Houston may have a beef to the contrary, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more complete and dangerous receiving corps in Conference USA than this one. If Ricky Johnson and Owens evolve as expected, containing this collection of game-breakers is going to be a weekly lesson in futility for league opponents.
Unit Rating: 8
Projected Starters: Well, at least just about everyone is back to try and make amends for last year's disaster. The biggest culprit in the disappointing campaign, the offensive line needs to make dramatic improvements in 2010. The leader of the group at left tackle is 6-4, 307-pound junior Tyler Holmes, who returns from an injury-plagued season for his third year as the starter. With a combination of great feet and a strong upper body, he has the physical tools needed to protect the blindside and make a serious run at All-Conference USA honors.
Over at right tackle, 6-5, 292-pound junior Brandon Thomas returns from his baptism under fire as a second-year starter. Although he clearly struggled at times in pass protection, the staff is hoping he can turn that experience into a learning tool. A former high school tight end, who has gradually added mass, he has the right frame and right amount of athletic ability to improve with more reps.
Contending at center will be 6-2, 280-pound sophomore Trent Dupy, who was thrown into the deep end of the pool as a rookie and improved as the season progressed. He still has to sharpen his fundamentals, but uses his hands well and gets off the ball quickly. After taking baby steps a year ago, he's ready to turn the corner, assuming he holds off the competition.
The closest thing to a sure-thing at guard is 6-2, 278-pound junior Clint Anderson on the left side. He played in nine games a year ago, showing good strength for his size and an ability to get to the second level quickly. If he can stay healthy for an entire year and get help on both sides, he's capable of delivering his first solid year as a Hurricane blocker.
The most competitive battle of the summer will take place at right guard, where 6-2, 270-pound senior Nick Gates is the veteran in the mix. He's played in 21 games over the last three seasons, including all 12 in 2009, showing a nasty streak and an ability to hold up at the point of attack. Winning this job, however, will require more than just a longer resume.
Projected Top Reserves: Behind Holmes at left tackle is 6-4, 280-pound sophomore Jared Grigg, who earned a letter and played in 10 games a year ago. Since coming on board, he's successfully added weight without sacrificing much foot speed or agility. He's been challenged in the offseason and is in danger of slipping a peg in the pecking order.
Going toe-to-toe with Dupy at center is 6-4, 308-pound junior Eric Sproal, a bigger and more physical option in the middle. In his first season out of Santa Ana (Calif.) Junior College, he played in nine games and got better accustomed to the speed of the game. If he can win this job, it might send Dupy over to the opening at right guard.
If Gates doesn't win the spot at right guard and Dupy stays put, 6-3, 300-pound sophomore Brian DeShane could end up being in the opening day lineup. After drawing interest from Big 12 schools, he impressed the staff with his quick retention as a rookie. He gets out of his stance and up the field quickly, and already has enough strength to overpower defenders. Of the young kids vying for playing time, he has one of the highest ceilings.
Watch Out For .... the depth chart to go through a series of changes before the right combination is found. While Holmes, Anderson, and Thomas are pretty much set, the competition at center and right guard will be fierce and could bleed right into the start of the season.
Strength: Experienced blockers. The upshot to all of those injuries a year ago is that a handful of players, who weren't expected to get significant reps, did. In fact, four starters and nine letterwinners are back from a year ago, giving the Hurricane more experience than it's had in some time.
Weakness: Pass protection. After allowing more than four sacks a game and ranking 118th nationally, the talk around Tulsa is that the only way is up for this group. Basically, things can't get much worse, as the Hurricane was routinely whipped around the edge and up the middle, killing the offense's hopes in 2009.
Outlook: If there's going to be an offensive revival this fall, it'll all have to begin here, along a front wall that did no favors to the skill position players last season. There's obvious opportunity for growth, especially since so many contributors are back and a year older.
- 2010 Tulsa Preview |
2010 Tulsa Defense |
Tulsa Depth Chart
- Tulsa Previews