BYU vs. Tulsa: The Breakdown

The G-man examines the BYU-Tulsa match up as the two teams get set to square off this Saturday. While Tulsa does not have a superstar whose name strikes fear into opposing fans, they do come to Provo fully loaded and intent on upsetting a Cougar team that is looking to rebound from last week's game against Arizona.


Tulsa: A 14-game starter, Paul Smith is experienced and dangerous. Smith has completed 2 or more touchdown passes in 8 of his starts. Last season, he was named MVP of the Liberty Bowl. Smith also presents a run threat out of the pocket that Tuitama did not, which could cause the Cougar defenders trouble.

BYU: John Beck comes off of last week's game completing 28 of 37 passes for just under 300 yards. Those type of stats have become commonplace for Beck over the years and he will likely pass for a similar percentage and yardage against Tulsa this Saturday.

Conclusion: Smith comes in more experienced and with better credentials than Tuitama did last week but without as much hype. While Smith is clearly a better quarterback than Tuitama, the edge goes to Beck based on experience and past productivity.

Edge: BYU

Running Backs:

Tulsa: Tulsa will use a three-back rotation of Brandon Diles, Tarrion Adams and Courtney Tennial. Of the three, Diles has the most experience coming in. He played in 35 games and rushed for 1176 career yards and 12 touchdowns.

BYU: Curtis Brown, BYU's primary RB, has doubled Diles' output over his career with over 2000 yards. Brown looks to rebound from last week's subpar performance against Arizona. Meanwhile, Fui Vakapuna looks to get more carries this week as he aims to supplement the Cougar ground attack.

Conclusion: The Cougars have production and potential over Tulsa. While Tulsa's ground game is potent and experienced, they do not have the horses the Cougars have out of the backfield.

Edge: BYU

Wide Receivers:

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricanes' WRs appear similar to those of Arizona, with most receivers in the rotation under 6-foot. Like Arizona, Tulsa's WR's are quick and shifty, with the ability to beat downfield coverage. Donnie Johnson is the leader of the group, having played significant reps in each of his prior three seasons.

BYU: BYU will again use a rotation of four outside receivers in Michael Reed, Zac Collie, McKay Jacobson and Matt Allen. All four had solid yet unspectacular outings against Arizona as not many balls were thrown their way. Look for this group to have more production against Tulsa's man-heavy coverage schemes.

Conclusion: This match up looks like a very similar to last week. There is no clear advantage to either group.

Edge: Push

Tight Ends:

Tulsa: Tulsa will utilize three tight ends. Tulsa doesn't feature the tight end nearly as much as BYU, but will throw to the tight end 4-6 times per game.

BYU: The Cougars will rotate Daniel Coats and Jonny Harline. Both match up well against just about any other TE duo in the country.

Conclusion: While Tulsa's TEs are solid, BYU's will be featured in their offense and have proven to be prolific and primary pass options.

Edge: BYU Offensive Line:

Tulsa: Tulsa's media guide touts their offensive front as being the most experienced offensive front in the nation. They have 95 collective starts among them, and unlike a lot of OLs from small schools, all five Tulsa linemen weigh in at more than 300 pounds.

BYU: The Cougar offensive front had a performance last week that they are eager to put behind them. The talent and prospects for this group are good, but they took a hit last week and need to rebound.

Conclusion: Having Jake Kuresa gimpy at best for the Tulsa game, the Cougars could very well struggle again. Meanwhile, Tulsa comes in fully-loaded with a wealth of experience with them.

Edge: Tulsa

Defensive Line:

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricanes will rotate as many as 3 experienced nose guards along with three defensive ends with at least one full year of experience each. While their nose tackles weigh well over three hundred pounds collectively, their defensive ends are generally small and good pass rushers.

BYU: The Cougar defensive front answered a lot of questions last week mounting a stiff resistance to Arizona's run game while mounting a good push upfield on most passing plays. They are young and very inexperienced, yet confident and capable coming off an impressive initial performance.

Conclusion: I am sold on BYU's defensive front. They looked good all spring and it translated into solid play against Arizona last week. I like BYU's collective size, although they may get an unwelcomed baptism by fire from Tulsa's challenging flex offense that relies on misdirection. Tulsa's defensive front has been there and done that against a variety of offensive schemes.

Edge: Tulsa


Tulsa: Tulsa's linebackers are experienced and very capable. They have two linebackers named to the preseason All-Conference USA team in Nick Bunting and Nelson Coleman. They run three across in Tulsa's 3-3-5 system and look very solid and capable at all three positions.

BYU: It was Bryan Kehl's breakout party last week as he leads what could prove to be the best set of outside linebackers ever to pass through BYU. Cameron Jensen had one of his better outings in a career made of solid performances. BYU's linebacking unit is the strength of the defense and made play after play last week.

Conclusion: The edge at linebacker may be the most difficult position to determine between these two teams. While Tulsa's group seem to be consistent play-makers who will not get beat on most occasions, Bryan Kehl may be the difference maker with what he showed last week against Arizona.

Edge: BYU


Tulsa: Tulsa features a preseason all-conference pick in safety Bobby Blackshire. They return experience at each of the 5 secondary positions. Blackshire and Nick Graham have each started the last three seasons and look to be the leaders.

BYU: The Cougar secondary put together their best collective game in the past three years against Arizona. The new 3-4 system helped them in fall practices and that success carried into their first game against Arizona.

Conclusion: Tulsa's offense will be much more difficult to read for the Cougar secondary, with many more keys that will have to be read out of the backfield. Tulsa's secondary is experienced, and although BYU's secondary is coming off an impressive collective outing, Tulsa's have come off of many.

Edge: Tulsa

Five Predictions

1. BYU will gain well over 100 yards on the ground

Tulsa's front looks capable, but they were not able to stop the runs last year when they gave up over 3,000 yards on the ground. Curtis Brown will come back strong as the Cougar offensive front will go against a familiar front that they will have success pushing around.

2. Tulsa will make more big plays than Arizona offensively

The misdirection itself will account for more big plays given up by the Cougar defense. They were impressive against Arizona, but they only had to read two keys. Against Tulsa there will be four different keys to be read on almost every down. Tulsa will take advantage of the collective inexperience of BYU's defense to the tune of multiple big plays.

3. BYU will cut down on the penalties

The mere fact that the game will be played in Provo without Pac-10 officials is reason enough to predict that the Cougars will encounter less penalties. Home field without the crowd noise against them will lead to less penalties.

4. BYU will have more big plays on offense

If prediction #1 bares out then Beck will have the opportunity to use play-action more effectively. This, coupled with Tulsa's man coverage, will lead to many more opportunities downfield for Beck and company. Look for Beck to have maybe fewer completions against Tulsa but more yards.

5. BYU's special teams will be a deciding factor

A fumbled snap diminished what was otherwise a very good special teams outing last week, but do not look for that blemish to appear again. Look for longer than usual returns this week with good coverages.

Top Three

BYU's top three offensive performers outside of Beck for this game will be McKay Jacobson, Jonny Harline and Curtis Brown.

Final Score: BYU will get its 34 points I predicted last week and win a close game 34-31


Get one year of Sports Illustrated magazine when you subscribe or upgrade to a annual Total Access Pass.

For a limited time any non-subscriber who signs up for a new annual Total Access Pass subscription, OR any monthly subscriber who upgrades to an annual Total Access Pass will also receive a one-year subscription (56 issues) to Sports Illustrated (a $39.95 value) and a $15 gift certificate to This is an incredible offer!!

Again, here's what you get:

  • One year of access to and the entire network
  • One year (10 issues) of Total Blue Sports Magazine
  • One year of Sports Illustrated
  • $15 to use on

Click here to sign up on-line: Subscribe Securely Online,

Or call our customer service center at 888-501-5752 and ask how you can subscribe or upgrade to this terrific package.


For more on this offer click on the following link:

TBS-SI Offer Explanation.

Total Blue Sports Top Stories