Last week I published a “Players to Watch” post for McNeese State ahead of OSU’s big win over McNeese State. In that post I mentioned how the McNeese State defense forced five fumbles in its season opener and that the McNeese defense would be looking to do the same against Oklahoma State. Sure enough, the McNeese defense forced three fumbles and recovered two.
This week I am here to preview Tulsa. Once again, defense is the opponent’s strong suit. Tulsa faced Michigan State in week one and San Jose State in week two.
Michigan State is the more similar opponent to OSU than San Jose State, obviously. Tulsa looked good on defense in both games, while the offense looked horrendous against MSU. Let’s take a look at a few players that might make a difference on Saturday.
Zach Smith: Quarterback
Look, the quarterback is going to be on this post every week. Smith might not be Tulsa’s best playmaker, but everything starts with him on offense. Smith wasn’t as horrible as the rest of the Tulsa offense against Michigan State, but his performance wasn’t great either. He passed for 153 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
The Grandview, Texas (shoutout Zebras!) native was much more efficient against San Jose State. Smith completed 21 of his 28 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown. His ability to keep the offense ahead of schedule will be key to helping Tulsa take down OSU this weekend.
Shamari Brooks and T.K. Wilkerson: Running Backs
I won’t even mention the Tulsa rush game against Michigan State. If the number negative 73 means anything....I’ll leave it at that. Brooks and Wilkerson each had nice games against San Jose State. Brooks rushed for 140 yards and a score on 29 carries and Wilkerson had 92 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.
If Tulsa wants to keep the score close against Oklahoma State, Brooks and Wilkerson need to have success on the ground. Staying ahead of schedule and draining clock while doing it is key. Doing so will shorten the game and keep OSU’s offense on the sideline.
The running backs did not keep Michigan State off the field in week one. Instead, Michigan State controlled the ball for over 36 minutes of the game. The defense, despite not forcing any turnovers, held MSU to 28 points and 300 yards of offense. That was with the offense doing nearly everything in its power to stay off the field.
The Tulsa defense isn’t perfect, they have only forced one turnover through two games. They allowed San Jose State to score 16 points. Overall, the Tulsa defense has looked formidable. The Oklahoma State offense will certainly look to blow the top off the secondary with Tylan Wallace. Even if the secondary holds up, OSU will turn to Spencer Sanders’ dual-threat ability and Chuba Hubbard’s open field playmaking.