Tulsa Preview: Defense

What to expect from Tulsa's defensive unit this saturday in Oklahoma.

After an anemic performance last week Tulane's offense looks to improve against a Tulsa defense that allowed 441 total yards last week against Iowa State in a 38 - 23 loss. Undoubtedly Tulane needs to become more effective with the ground game and Tulsa displayed some vulnerability with the team allowing 160 yards last week. Last year they held opposing defenses to 3.3 yards per carry and allowed just 128 yards per game, which is a big improvement when looking at recent history. The Golden Hurricane forced one interception and held Iowa State to 7 of 17 on 3rd down.

Tulsa features a 4-3 defense with 7 returning starters but they have had big losses at each position group.

Positional Breakdown:

Defensive Line: The first thing to note is the loss of 1st team C-USA defensive end Tyrunn Walker (41 tackles, 8 sacks, 5.5 TFL), who coincidentally drew interest from the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent and remained on the roster through the preseason. The team also lost Durrell Finch (5 tackles, 2 sacks) and Rashad Robinson (21 tackles, 1 sack). Aside from those departures the team returns 6 of 8 players from last year. The feeling is that senior Cory Dorris has a lot of potential and their size up the middle will not make it easier for Tulane to establish a run game. Redshirt freshman Derrick Alexander will be at the other end spot with seniors Derrick Jackson and Daeshon Bufford slotted in the middle. They are an experienced group with enough depth to keep everyone fresh.

Linebacker: The linebackers also lost a first team C-USA player in Curnelius Arnick, who was the number one tackler in the conference last year with 159. They also lost strongside linebacker Alan Dock who started all 13 games. With a redshirt freshman in Trent Martin and an inexperienced senior in DeAundre Brown at SLB. Their best returning player is junior WLB Shawn Jackson who started 13 games and made 101 tackles, 11 of which were for losses (2nd team C-USA). This position seems to be a bit of a question mark for the Golden Hurricane into this season and seemingly is their weakest defensive unit.

Defensive Backs: Their only two losses at defensive back this year were CB Milton Howell who made 13 starts and snatched 4 interceptions and safety Trent Wilkins who made 27 tackles. They have 6 returning players that includes senior C-USA 2nd teamer Dexter McCoil and C-USA honorable mention John Flanders. This unit figures to be one of the better units in the conference on the basis of their experience and ability to make interceptions. Ryan Griffin will have to clean up some of his throws because while only one was intercepted, there were two others that by all measures should have been turnovers.

Overview: In recent history against Tulane, Tulsa's defense has not had to be anything more than a bend-and-don't-break defense due to usually getting out to big leads. While the team is not as defensively talented as Rutgers they do have experience and their offense is effective enough to take a lot of pressure off them and allow them to play more freely and attack the ball. Tulane will have to be able to run the ball if they want to keep this defense on their toes. It does not bode well for Tulane the farther they get away from a 50:50 run:pass ratio; they relied too much on Ryan Griffin last week and the one mistake he made unfortunately derailed the Wave's chances. Tulsa has consistently been problematic for Tulane so they will need to find weaknesses in this defense if the Golden Hurricane's offense continues their recent success against the Wave.

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