Bye Week Leads to Tilt With Tulsa!

After a much-deserved "bye" week, Boise State returns to action taking on Tulsa in the Golden Hurricane's Homecoming game. Here's a preview of what we can expect from Tulsa.

    Broncos Ready for More Action!

    Who:  Boise State @ Tulsa,
    Where:  Tulsa OK,
    When:  Saturday (October 16th) 1:00PM  (MST)

    Many of you, like me, know very little about our next opponent. Yes, Boise State has been a member of the same conference as Tulsa for our 4th year now, but I can't say that I know anything about Tulsa, except that it's in the state of Oklahoma (it is, right?!). Tulsa is a private (Presbyterian) university of just under 3000 students, founded in 1894. Boise State's contest with the Golden Hurricane is Tulsa's Homecoming game for 2004. The contest will take place in Skelly Stadium, originally built in 1930, located on the UT campus. Skelly Stadium has a seating capacity of just over 40,300, although the attendance average for 2003 was a paltry 22,132 (55% of capacity). So far this season, UT is averaging yet a smaller 20,819 fans.

    The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, inexplicably in tornado country, brings a storied history of football success into every fall gridiron contest. However, that storied history hasn't blessed the Golden Hurricane with many consistent winning seasons in the past several years.

    Tulsa, participants in the Humanitarian Bowl in 2003, experienced its first bowl game since 1991 (defeated SDSU in the Freedom Bowl 28-17; and finished ranked 21st in the AP, UPI, and USA Today polls) and only its fourth bowl since 1965. The year 2003 inclusive, Tulsa has only experienced winning seasons twice since 1985. This wasn't always the case. The Golden Hurricane participated in five consecutive bowl games in the 1940's and back-to-back bowl games in the 1960's. In the 13 years between 1974 and 1986, Tulsa completed a record of 91-51-1 (.641), much of this period coached by the legendary John Cooper (of Ohio State fame).

    The Golden Hurricane has seen its share of legendary players too. Bob St. Clair played tackle for Tulsa in the early 1950's. Steve Largent was a wide receiver for the Golden Hurricane from 1971 to 1975. Don't forget Rickey Watts ('78) who played WR with the Bears; Tracy Scroggins ('91) who played LB for the Lions; and Gus Ferotte ('93) who quarterbacked several NFL teams.

    Tulsa has an all-time record of 518-413-27 (.557) dating back to 1895, spending 50 seasons in the now-defunct Missouri Valley Conference (1935-1985), then was independent until 1996 when the WAC invited Tulsa to join. During the years as an independent, Tulsa only had one winning season, but what a season it was—finishing 10-1 and ranked 21st nationally in three polls. But tough times have befallen Tulsa as it has endured an overall record of 28-69 (.289) during the 8+ years as members of the Western Athletic Conference. This will be Tulsa's final season in the WAC, and consequently, will likely be the last time that Boise State and Tulsa face off in football for many years. Tulsa will be joining Conference USA for the 2005 season.

     The Tulsa team definitely has a regional flavor. Forty-nine percent of the Golden Hurricane players hail from the state of Oklahoma, with 36% from Texas. Seventeen players are from Tulsa itself, including several members from the storied programs of Union or Jenks high schools. Curiously, there are three members of the UT program from the Canadian province of Alberta.

     Coach Steve Kragthorpe, in his first year as head coach (2003), led the Golden Hurricane to unanticipated success with an overall record of 8-5, finishing third in the WAC, and earning a post-season bowl berth to the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise. His follow-up season in 2004 hasn't turned out meeting the expectations everyone had for him. So far, Tulsa hasn't impressed, though credit is given for taking on a fairly ambitious schedule. The season's early results for Tulsa are:

    Loss @ Kansas, 3-21
    Loss @ Oklahoma St, 21-38
    Loss vs. Navy, 0-29
    Win vs. SW Missouri St, 49-7
    Loss @ Hawaii, 16-44 

    Despite not starting out with the number of W's that most expected Tulsa still has a very talented team. Several individuals on the Golden Hurricane are ranked in the Top 100 in the NCAA in specific categories: 

    • Ashlan Davis is ranked 37th in the nation in Kickoff Returns (22.8 ypa), and has been named as WAC Special Teams Player of the Week once (9/27/2004)
    • Davis is also ranked 59th in All Purpose Running (114.8 ypg)
    • Chris Kindred is 54th nationally in Punting (40.88 ypa)
    • James Killian is 55th nationally in Total Offense (203.0 ypg)

    • Jermaine Landrum is 91st in Punt Returns (6.10 ypa)
    • Garrett Mills, ranked 40th in Receptions/Game (5.2 rpg)

    As a team, Tulsa is ranked among the NCAA team leaders:

    • 88th in Rushing Offense (117.8 ypg)
    • 82nd in Passing Offense (180.0 ypg)
    • 101st in Total Offense (297.8 ypg)
    • 101st in Scoring Offense (17.8 ppg)
    • 90th in Rushing Defense (193.4 ypg)
    • 19th in Passing Defense (161.8 ypg)
    • 59th in Total Defense (355.2 ypg)
    • 78th in Scoring Defense (27.8 ppg)

    What is most surprising about Tulsa's slow start this season is that the team returns a mostly experienced squad on both sides of the ball. The offense returns 8 starters from 2003, including 4 on the offensive line. The defense returns 9 starters including 2 on the defensive line. In addition, 44 letter winners return from last year's 8-5 campaign.

    One of those returnees from last year is senior James Killian (6'4", 215 lbs), the QB that engineered two 4th quarter drives that put pains in the guts of Bronco fans. In 2003, against Boise State, Killian finished 22 of 35 passes for 229 yards and 1 TD. So far in 2004, Killian is 90 of 169 passes, for 900 yards and 5 touchdowns.

    Killian's favorite receiving target is junior TE Garrett Mills (6'2", 224 lbs) who has 26 receptions for 185 yards (7.1 ypc) and 1 TD. However, the more productive receiver is senior WR Montiese Culton (6'2", 175 lbs) who has 12 receptions for 179 yards (14.9 ypc) and 3 TD's.

    Tulsa's leading rusher this far in 2004 is junior RB Uril Parrish (5'9", 202 lbs) who has rushed for 321 yards on 88 carries (3.6 ypc) and 1 TD.

    The big question going into this game is whether the Golden Hurricane has enough wind to keep up with the Broncos' offensive storm. So far this season, UT is averaging 117.8 yards rushing and 180.0 yards receiving in a fairly balanced total offensive output of 287.8 yards per game. However, the Golden Hurricane is averaging a weak 17.8 ppg and allowing a breezy 27.8 ppg on defense. This compares to Boise State's 46.2 ppg on offense and 23.8 ppg allowed on defense.

    The Golden Hurricane defense is lead by senior LB Michael LeDet (6'2", 220 lbs) who has 40 total tackles (22 solo, 18 assisted), including 3.0 tackles for loss. In the interception department, UT has 3 interceptions all season, all by different individuals. The most exciting result this far in the season has been senior DB Clint Rountree's (6'0", 200 lbs) 41-yard interception for TD against D1AA Southwest Missouri St. In that same game, junior WR Ashlan Davis (5'8", 177 lbs) blocked and recovered a punt for a 13-yard TD. These stars prove that Tulsa is capable of turning a game quickly on either defense or special teams.

    Despite starting out the 2004 campaign undefeated after five games, Coach Dan Hawkins and the team are unpleased with the execution and results, especially over the past three games, a 47-31 win over UTEP, a 28-27 win over BYU, and a 38-20 win over SMU. Following the most recent victory over SMU, the media agreed with the Broncos and were equally unimpressed with Boise State. The ESPN/Coaches poll left Boise State ranked at 19, despite several teams ranked above the Broncos losing. The AP Poll left Boise State in the same 23rd position as last week. After a one-week layoff, expect Boise State to go into Tulsa focused on correcting mistakes and improving their performance.

    The Saturday contest with Boise St visiting Tulsa will be broadcast by local CBS affiliate, KBCI (channel 2 broadcast, channel 8 CableOne) at 1PM (Mountain). As always, KBOI (AM 670) will radio broadcast the game live.

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