Tulsa Golden Hurricane
2008 Record: (11-3, 7-1)
2008 Bowl: GMAC Bowl vs. Ball State (W 45-13)
Coach: Todd Graham (21-7 at Tulsa, 28-13 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Herb Hand
Defensive Coordinator: Keith Patterson and Ron West
Rushing: Jamad Williams, RB, 523 yards
Passing: Jacob Bower, QB, 138 yards
Receiving: Damaris Johnson, WR, 743 yards
Tackles: Mike Bryan, LB, 119
Sacks: James Lockett, S, 8.5
Interceptions: DeAundre Brown, S, 2; Charles Davis, S, 2
Other Key Returnees: LB Tanner Antle, FB Charles Clay, LB George Clinkscale, CB John Flanders, DT Wilson Garrison, OT Tyler Holmes, WR Trae Johnson, G Curt Puckett, WR Slick Shelley, CB Kenny D. Sims
Key Losses: RB Tarrion Adams, DE Moton Hopkins, QB David Johnson, WR Brennan Marion, G Justin Morsey, DT Terrel Nemons, S Roy Roberts, OT Rod Thomas, K Jarod Tracy, C Jody Whaley
Coach Todd Graham has certainly created excitement about the football program at Tulsa. After garnering 21 wins in just two seasons, there is reason to be optimistic and reason to be fearful that Coach Graham might not be around much longer. But for now, the Golden Hurricane will look for another ten win season and another trip to the Conference USA Championship Game.
Coach Graham has turned the Tulsa offense into a system that is bigger than any one player. After the 2007 season everybody thought the offense would struggle without Paul Smith. In stepped David Johnson and he just threw for over 4,000 yards and accounted for a total of 49 touchdowns. Now the Golden Hurricane need to find another new quarterback, but Jacob Bower, Shavodrick Beaver, G.J. Kinne or whoever wins the quarterback battle will put up huge numbers. It helps that experienced receiving targets Damaris Johnson, Slick Shelley and Trae Johnson are back. Johnson racked up a ton of all-purpose yards as a freshman and is ready to emerge as a superstar. As much as this a pass happy team, they actually ranked fifth in the nation in rushing. The now departed Tarrion Adams accounted for a majority of those yards, but Jamad Williams and a host of others are ready to fill the void.
The Tulsa defense will create plenty of sacks, but most of that came from blitzes from the secondary, not from the front line. Moton Hopkins was really the only guy who could get into the backfield among the three starting linemen and now he has run out of eligibility. Odrick Ray and Cory Dorris are the likely starters on the end and they have to get into the backfield with some consistency or the defense will be average yet again. It was not a bad thing for safety James Lockett to lead the team with 8.5 sacks, but getting more consistent pressure from the frontline would allow Lockett and the rest of the secondary to worry about some of the potent passing attacks in C-USA. In the middle of the defense, it is Mike Bryan who has developed into the leader. The linebacker tallied 119 tackles last season and is prepared for a huge senior campaign.
The Bottom Line:
There is no reason for this group not to make it back to the conference championship game. They just have to stay the course week in and week out, something that they did not do last year. Up until November it looked like nobody was going to beat the Golden Hurricane, but then the team lost to Arkansas and got absolutely blown out by Houston. This year the coaching staff cannot let one close loss get to the team and let them fall apart like they did against the Houston Cougars.
2008 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 268.00 (5th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 301.86 (9, 3)
Total Offense: 569.86 (1, 1)
Scoring Offense: 47.21 (2, 1)
Rushing Defense: 129.50 (37, 2)
Pass Defense: 249.64 (97, 7)
Total Defense: 379.14 (74, 5)
Scoring Defense: 27.93 (75, 6)
Turnover Margin: -.36 (84, 9)
Sacks: 2.71 (13, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.71 (48, 3)