James Kilan has played in 13 collegiate games with two starts. He started his first college game in the 2001 season finale against Louisiana Tech, and had his second career start last year at Fresno State. He has completed 42% of his passes for 401 yards and one touchdown, while rushing for 196 yards and four touchdowns.
Kilian, who played at Medford (OK) High, set the national record for eight-man football and Oklahoma all-class records with 8,426 yards and 120 touchdowns over four varsity seasons. The Oklahoma high school yardage record stood until last year, when current Tulsa freshman quarterback Paul Smith surpassed the 9,500-yard mark his senior season at Owasso High School.
First year head Coach Steve Kragthorpe, who was previously quarterback coach for the NFL's Buffalo Bills, has high hopes for Kilan.
"I thought James has had a great camp, not to say that the other guys haven't. At this point in time, James is further along in the offense. He's done an excellent job being a leader on the field and off the field. I like his command in the huddle. He's played well enough to be named the starter. I'm excited about the opportunity for him being able to go out and play Saturday night. What I've told James, and will continue to tell him is that he doesn't have to go out and try to be superman. He's just one of the guys on the offense that we want to be productive. A term I like to use -- is that he's the bus driver. We have a transmission, we have an engine and wheels, he's just got to go out and drive the bus. In coaching that position as many years as I have, I've told those guys don't try to make big plays, because the only problem is you will, but half of them will be for the other guys. We want him to go out and be a productive guy."
"James is an excellent athlete. He presents some problems to a defense because his mobility and ability to make plays with his feet. I think he's throwing the ball much better than various times in his career. He's throwing better than he did in the spring."
"The great thing about James is he's very, very coachable. He wants to improve on a daily basis. He's always concentrating on fundamentals and techniques and searching for ways to be better. He's a sponge. He soaks up everything we give him as coaches in the meeting room and he goes out there on a daily basis and tries to improve not only in his fundamentals, but in terms of mastering the offense."
TULSA HAS GOOD SUCCESS IN SEASON OPENERS
The Golden Hurricanes are 61-41-1 in season openers in their history. They lost to Oklahoma last season 37-0. However, they trailed by just three points at halftime. They are just 10-23-1 in road openers.
TULSA NEEDS TO SHORE UP RUN DEFENSE
The Golden Hurricanes allowed their opponents to average 5.7 yards per carry last season, which is good news for the Gophers' three-headed running back rotation. Marion Barber III, Thomas Tapeh and Terry Jackson helped the Gophers rush for 2,721 yards and 4.6 yards per carry.
TULSA HAS STRONG FOOTBALL TRADITION
Despite their recent woes, Tulsa has a strong tradition in football. They are the college team to appear in five consecutive New Year's Day bowl games. They played in the Sun Bowl (1/1/42), Sugar Bowl (1/1/43), Sugar Bowl (1/1/44), Orange (1/1/45) and Oil Bowl (1/146). They have two former Heisman Trophy runner-ups in Jerry Rhome in 1964 and Howard Twiley in 1965.
Three former Tulsa players are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. They are Bob St. Clair, former Minnesota Viking general manager Jim Finks and Steve Largent.