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Oklahoma State Opponent Preview: Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Welcome to the preview of Oklahoma State's 3rd non-conference opponent, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (no plural, they are a single hurricane).  Make yourself at home as we take a look at the details of the team that will visit BPS 9/18, and hopefully leave dejected from their 40 point loss, and at all the Tide it is going to take to clean those Kendall Hunter footprints off their jerseys.

Same process as the first two, some stuff about the history, the players, the schemes, then a prediction. And if you missed the first two team previews, first let me say "Shame on you", secondly... the links are right here.
Washington State Preview | Troy Trojans Preview

Fun Facts about Tulsa
Have you ever wondered how TU got the ridiculous nickname "Golden Hurricane"?  No?  Well here is the story.  Apparently in the nineteen aughts and teens, the University of Tulsa went through a bunch of bizarre nicknames, my favorite being "Tulsans".  I wish we would have followed this model and become the "Oklahoma State Oklahoma Stateites"... really catchy. 

So anyway, in 1922 Tulsa adopted yellow and black uniforms and along with it, the nickname "Yellow Jackets".  It just so happened that they were also having a particularly successful season on the football field that year, and their head coach Howard Archer decided they needed a more fierce nickname that was representative of the way they were "roaring through opponents". I believe his exact words were "Yellow Jackets are sooo pussy, we need to sack this up name a little", this could be a misquote though.  So Archer changed the team name to "Golden Tornadoes"... which actually makes a lot of sense. Well unfortunately for Tulsa, Georgia Tech was already using this nickname for some reason, and Coach Archer didn't want to share a name with another school.  Since apparently the only terms Archer knew were from the weather report, he switched the name to "Golden Hurricane".  Oddly enough Georgia Tech later came back and stole the "Yellow Jackets" name from Tulsa (irony?  no.. thats not irony).  And that is how Tulsa got their nickname. Learning!

Recent Football History At Tulsa
Since Tulsa joined Conference USA in 2005, they have represented the west division in three of the five Conference USA Championship games that have been played, winning it in 2005.  2005-2008 was a solid stretch for the Golden Hurricane, racking up an overall record of 38-16, and a 24-8 record in conference. But then came 2009, and the end of the high the Golden Hurricane were riding. The season started out alright with the Canes jumping out to a 4-1 record, and the only loss was to Oklahoma, but then began the six game losing streak. They pulled out some fine performances in losing to #5 Boise State by only seven, then by four to #15 Houston, but even with these moral victories, the uncharacteristic losing streak left bad taste in the mouths of the Tulsa faithful (aka Jim and Donny).

The Tulsa Offense
In spite of 2009 being considered a down year in Tulsa on both sides of the ball, the offense still averaged 30 points and 410 yards per game even though they were breaking in a new offensive coordinator and new QB. I guess the issue with that is that even as good as those numbers were, they were still a huge dropoff from the 2008 offensive numbers when they were ranked #1 in the nation in total yards, and #2 in scoring.  But hey Tulsa, you cant average 50 points a game every season.  Well the good news is that the productive offense of 2009 returns 9 starters to the 2010 team. So let's meet those dudes shall we?

The Fellas
The Tulsa depth chart is kinda old school and bizarre, and sorta confusing to read.  Rather than listing four different wideouts, they have listed positions of Wide Receiver, Flanker, Split End, H-Back, and even have an "OR"listed with the Tight End position listed under the "OR". You can put an "or" in depth charts?  An "or" like, "Well we will either have dude playing this position, or maybe this position.  Even we don't know!"

At Wide Receiver, the Hurricane return their most deadly playmaker in Damaris Johnson (Jr 5'8 170).  Johnson finished 2009 with 78 receptions for 1131 yards, and added 175 yards in the running game.  He is a shifty, super quick threat that Tulsa tries to move around and use in a variety of ways.  He is also a scary threat in the return game. At Flanker there is a bit of a change as expected starter A.J. Whitmore was dismissed from the team for academic issues, so in his place will be Ricky Johnson (So 6'2 200), a potential superstar in the making who would have been used extensively anyway.  Johnson originally committed to Arkansas before resending and heading to T-Town. He runs a 4.4 and is thought to be the most overall athletically gifted athlete on the team.

At Split End, Trae Johnson (Sr 5'11 190) will get the starts as he looks to regain the form he showed in 2007 when he had 70 catches for 1088 yards and 13 TDs.  Strange career for Johnson who followed up that breakout 2007 campaign by having 44 catches and 786 yards over the last two seasons combined.  If he can return to form, he obviously adds another dangerous component to the receiving corps. At H-Back will be Charles Clay (Sr 6'3 235) who is built like a Tight End but is used in a multitude of ways. Possessing good size, athleticism, and great hands, Clay is considered to be the best NFL prospect on the team in the H-Back role. "OR" he will play Tight End.  Sorry, I'm having a hard time letting go of that or statement on the depth chart.

At Quarterback, we will see the second season of the G.J. Kinne era. Kinne (Jr. 6'2 215) is a transfer from Texas who had a good-not-great sophomore campaign completing 61% of his passes for 2732 yards, 22 TDs, and 10 ints. Most are expecting an improvement on those numbers as he is on the preseason watch lists for the Manning and O'Brien Awards. Kinne is a bit of a dual threat and actually lead the team in rushing with 399 yards on 150 attempts with 5 rushing TDs. A majority of these runs come on end reads and broken plays. Backing up Kinne is Shavodrick Beaver.  Yes, I did only mention this because I love that name.

On to the Running Backs. As I mentioned above, quarterback GJ Kinne lead the team in rushing yards with 399, so obviously there really isn't a threatening feature back on the roster, although Tulsa did rush for 1800 yards as a team last season.  Returning as the de facto #1 RB is Jamad Williams (Sr 5'9 205), who in another old school move is listed on the roster as a Tailback. Williams is somewhat of a pounder who looks for contact, which is a bit odd considering the scheme they run, but he is a decent pass blocker and can make plays catching the ball out of the backfield as well. There is a lot of depth at this position so it should be expected that Alex Singleton, Trey Watts, and Derrick Hall will see the field as well.

The Offensive Line will be looking to step up after allowing 45 sacks last season (good for #118 in the nation), and forcing the offense to resort to mostly misdirection and trick plays in order to have any kind of a running game.  The good, or maybe it's bad, news for Tulsa is that they return 5 starters on the line from last season.  The tackle positions look to be set with Tyler Holmes (Jr 6'4 305) on the left side and Brandon Thomas (Jr 6'5 296) returning to the positions they held last season. Clint Anderson (Jr 6'2 285) is considered to be the best overall blocker on the team and will start at LG, while the battle for a starting position at RG currently has Brian DeShane (So 6'3 301) in the lead for the spot.  However Nick Gates (Sr 6'2 280) will compete for time at the position.

The Scheme
Tulsa will continue to run the spread that has lead them to so much success the past decade. The plan will be to utilize Johnson in as many ways as possible, while keeping Kinne mobile and away from the inevitable pressure that this porous line will let through. We have to assume that there will be some kind of an increased emphasis on the running game too. This offense works best when there is a feature back that can not only keep the defense honest, but also produce themselves, as was proved by Tarrion Adams and his back to back 1200+ yard campaigns of 2007 and 2008.

Part 2 can be found here!