Oklahoma-Tulsa Scouting Report

See inside for a unit-by-unit preview of Saturday's Oklahoma-Tulsa matchup. Tulsa running back Uril Parris (pictured above) rushed for over 1,000 last season. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam)

When Oklahoma Has The Ball:
Oklahoma's rushing offense vs. Tulsa's run defense

The Sooners offensive line failed to open any holes in their loss to TCU, so the focus will be on them this week. With Rhett Bomar starting at quarterback, OU may make a more deliberate effort to get him involved in the running game. Adrian Peterson had only one double digit run all day and that has to change for the Sooners to put points on the board.

Tulsa has already faced one top-notch back this season in Minnesota's Laurence Maroney, who blistered them for over a hundred yards in the opening quarter of last week's loss and finished with over 200 for the game. Although Tulsa played better against the run as the game progressed, Golden Hurricane play-by-play man Bruce Howard says the team knows they face an ever bigger threat in Peterson.

"I think Tulsa was in better shape on their angles as the game went on and they'll have to be the same against Peterson, because he has that game breaking speed and power. He can take it the distance if you don't wrap him up and don't take the right angle and that sort of thing. That's what makes him so great", said Howard. "That's what makes him so difficult to defend and what makes him frustrating, too, is you may be able to stop him 17 out of 19 carries, but on those other two carries, he's taking the ball the distance. Some of the competition you play, the back might only take it for 20 when you make a mistake, but guys like Peterson will take it all the way."

Expect Tulsa to challenge the Sooners to throw the ball.

Oklahoma's passing offense vs. Tulsa's pass defense
Last week, a combination of poor protection and poor passing kept the OU aerial game from creating much of a stir. Bomar is considered to be a stronger passer than Thompson, but he must show it this week in his starting opportunity.

Tulsa has a veteran secondary, but gave up 235 yards in the air against Minnesota. Former Sooner signee Bobby Klink is a safety in the Golden Hurricane defensive backfield, and juniors Bobby Blackshire and Nick Graham join him as leaders in the secondary. All are in-state products and need to have big games for Tulsa to have any success.

Expect Tulsa to try to change and disguise coverage to confuse the young Sooner quarterback.

When Tulsa Has The Ball:
Tulsa's rushing offense vs. Oklahoma's run defense

Uril Parish gained seven yards a carry in the opener against Minnesota, 12 rushes for 84 yards, and was a 1,000 yard rusher last season. He will get the bulk of the carries, backed by redshirt freshman Tarrion Adams from Moore.

Sophomore Paul Smith, from Owasso, will get the start again at quarterback after being knocked out in the first half against Minnesota. It will be interesting to see if Smith is as anxious to call his own number against the Sooners.

"He's not a runner like (NFL draftee James) Killian was", said Howard. "He does have some quickness and can move to keep the play alive, so to speak. He ran against Minnesota and got dinged, but when he has to, he's not afraid to stick his head in there."

With the exception of one key play on TCU's winning drive, the Sooners rush defense was outstanding last week. It's doubtful that Tulsa will be able to move the ball on the ground against Oklahoma effectively, although, like TCU, they will show a lot of different offensive formations.

"They try to establish balance as best they can. I don't think you approach a game such as this thinking that you're going to run on first and second down" said Howard. "You don't go into Oklahoma doing that unless you think you're bigger, faster and stronger. And I don't think Tulsa is."

Tulsa's passing offense vs. Oklahoma's pass defense
Smith was accurate in his limited action last week, hitting 7 of 11 passes, but only accounted for 46 yards. Tulsa will run a myriad of formations, but will generally line up with two tight ends.

However, one of those tight ends, Garrett Mills, is more of an all-purpose receiver. Mills only caught five passes for 38 yards last week and he has to be more involved in the offense for the Golden Hurricane to have offensive success.

"Mills is so talented, they swing him around all over the place. They're going to have to be pretty creative this week", Howard said. "Part of the cat and mouse game is trying to get him free in some way. They'll line him up at fullback, sometimes put him in motion. But (TU offensive coordinator) Charlie Stubbs' offense has always been multiple. You could see no backs, you could see two backs, you could see five wide receivers, and you could see, you know, four tight ends. That's part of the beauty of it, I think. It's hard to put a finger on what he might do any time."

Return man Ashlan Davis is also one of the starting wide receivers, but only got one catch last week. Tulsa was unable to get the receivers involved last week, but if Smith can stay in the game this week, they will try against the Sooners.

"I think Paul is just very smart, cerebral quarterback, he's been in the system three years,. I think he's got a good arm and seems to have really good accuracy on the long ball," said Howard. "He didn't get as much time as they would have liked against Minnesota, didn't run a lot of long routes, but if he has a moment or two to sit back there he can drop it down into people's breadbasket pretty well.

After struggling in the opening half against TCU, OU's linebackers improved their coverage in the second half and the secondary played a solid game overall. What Oklahoma needs to improve on is to create plays, close on the ball and create turnovers.

They will have that chance as you can expect Tulsa to throw 30 to 40 times.

Special Teams Performers
Davis broke into the national spotlight last year for Tulsa, returning five kick-offs for touchdowns to set an NCAA record, and his 30.6 average per return was third in the country. Last week against Minnesota, he was held in check, averaging less than 20 yards per return on seven attempts with a long of 30 yards.

Punter Chris Kindred averaged just over 38 yards on six kicks against Minnesota, but most of the yards came on the roll. Kicker Brad DeVault made a 46-yarder and missed a 27-yarder after a bad snap. That was his first career field goal of over 40 yards. He's considered an average kicker at best.

The Sooners had excellent kick coverage against TCU and also sacked the punter to set up one score. Punter Cody Freeby had a solid game, kicking mostly into the wind and allowing just one punt to be returned. Garrett Hartley missed a 50-yarder against the wind and made his other effort. He needs to get stronger on kickoffs to take Davis out of the game this week.

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