In this series we will look at the Mids football opponents for the 2016 season. Today the school we are looking at is Tulsa.
Date/time/location/TV: November, Noon EST, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD, CBSSN
2015 Record: 6-7 (3-5 The American). Lost to Virginia Tech 55-52 in Independence Bowl.
Head Coach: Phillip Montgomery. Second year at Tulsa (6-7).
Series History: Navy leads the series 2-1.
Last Meeting: The Navy offense rolled for 512 yards on the ground as the Mids destroyed Tulsa 44-21 last season.
Top Returners: QB Dane Evans (Sr.) 4,332 yards passing and 25 TDs. DE Jeremy Smith (Jr.) 31.5 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, and 2.5 sacks. LB Matt Linscott (Sr.) 84 tackles, 16 TFLs, and 5 sacks. LB Trent Martin (Sr.) 81.5 tackles, 14 TFLs, and 2 sacks. CB Kerwin Thomas (Jr.) 52 tackles and 12 PBUs.
Key Losses: RB Zack Langer, 777 yards rushing and 18 TDs. WR Keyarris Garrett, 96 catches, and 1,588 yards receiving. LT Garrett Stafford, 39 career starts. DT Derrick Luetjen, 37 tackles and 9 TFLs. SS Michael Mudoh, 105.5 tackles and 3.5 TFLs.
What You Need To Know: In Phillip Montgomery's first year at Tulsa the Golden Hurricane improved. The improvement was mainly seen on offense, with Tulsa gaining an extra seven or so points per game (adjusted for opponent). The win total rose from two in 2014 to six last season, and that total would have been much higher if not for the team having one of the seven worst defenses in the entire country.
The Tulsa offense is based on the Baylor system of spreading the defense out, running at a crazy tempo, and taking advantage of whatever mismatches are created. Dane Evans returns for his senior season and he gives Tulsa the QB for this system to flourish. The Golden Hurricane do need to run the ball better, and there is a question mark with two of the top three WRs having moved on, but the parts are there for the offense to be improved in the second year in this system.
The other question on offense will be the ability of the line to keep defenders away from Evans. He took 40 sacks last fall, plus countless more hits, but was able to play all but garbage time snaps. The line loses three, but brings back four starters (Blake Belcher returns from a torn ACL) and the ability of this unit to gel will be key.
Based on it not being possible to get much worse, the defense should be better in 2016. The unit allowed 259 gains of 10-plus yards last fall, while no other team allowed more than 241. Bill Young is a decent defensive coordinator, but his bend-don't-break very quickly became bend-and-break-immediately against any offense with a pulse.
The biggest problem was youth and getting used to the system. This year Tulsa returns six of eight linemen, five of six linebackers, and seven of nine defensive backs. There will not be a massive leap from the unit, but the Tulsa defense should at least be passable by the end of the season.
2015 Stats That Matter: Offensive points per game, 21st; Defensive points per game, 121st.
Fun Fact: Tulsa has an undergraduate enrollment of fewer than 3,500 students.
Famous Alumni: Rue McClanahan (Author), Steve Largent (NFL Hall of Famer), Lovie Smith (NFL Head Coach)