What better way to get to know your opponent than to talk to the person that covers their beat. Kelly Hines of the Tulsa World was kind enough to answer our questions ahead of today’s game.
Micah Allen: What are you most excited to see from both teams on Saturday?
Kelly Hines: From Tulsa, I’m looking forward to seeing whether this offense can progress. In the opener at Michigan State, which has an exceptional defense, the inexperienced Hurricane offensive line had significant issues, leading to two starters being replaced. At San Jose State, there was obviously more success both on the ground and through the air. Oklahoma State’s defense is somewhere between those two, so this could be a more revealing gauge as to where TU’s offense is.For OSU, it will be seeing how the Cowboys’ offense matches up with a 3-3-5 defense that is pretty solid, returning nine starters from a unit that ranked ninth nationally against the pass. Tylan Wallace is definitely a handful, so that will be an intriguing matchup for the Hurricane corners. I don’t think teams can stop OSU’s offense, but limiting the explosive plays will be important.
MA: Any update of running back Corey Taylor?
KH: No official update. Philip Montgomery classifies Taylor as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, but if I had to guess I would say he doesn’t play Saturday. Shamari Brooks can be a load and third-string back T.K. Wilkerson was impressive last week after Taylor left in the first half, but not having Taylor would be a key loss.
MA: What did you see from last week’s 34-16 win against San Jose that you’d expect the Hurricane to bring into this week?
KH: More than anything, I think that win created some confidence that can translate into momentum. TU hadn’t won on the road since 2016, and it was crucial for the Hurricane to find rhythm on offense. Zach Smith had valuable experience at Baylor, but that was a few years ago and with a completely different team. So for him to be effective last week, that is an encouraging sign for TU to get the passing game going after struggles there the past two seasons.
MA: Last week the Hurricane defense forced five punts. Do you think they’ll be able to carry that defensive success into Saturday’s game?
KH: OSU’s offense is a lot better than San Jose State’s, so it’s hard to say. But there are a lot of really good parts within the TU defense and a lot of experience throughout it and a lot of speed on the back end. The Hurricane has played really well in the red zone and on fourth downs, and its first-team defense has surrendered only two touchdowns through two games.
MA: What do you think the Hurricane’s biggest strengths and weaknesses are?
KH: The biggest weakness is the offensive line, where TU has a senior starting alongside three sophomores and a redshirt freshman. The underclassmen simply don’t have much game experience, and it has shown at times, particularly in the first half at Michigan State before some personnel changes were made.Most of the strengths are on the defensive side, highlighted by end Trevis Gipson, who has two sacks in the first two weeks, and a linebacker corps that includes veteran Cooper Edmiston in the middle and up-and-comer Zaven Collins on the weak side.
MA: For fans going to the game, what are some places they should go to grab a bite or an adult beverage before the game?
KH: Lone Wolf across 11th from campus is delicious. Elgin Park downtown would be great to watch morning games before heading to the stadium. Mother Road Market at 11th and Lewis also is nearby and has a lot of different options including a full bar and huge patio.
MA: Score prediction?
KH: OSU 41, TU 28