2010 Record: (10-3, 6-2 in C-USA)
Head Coach: Bill Blankenship (First Year Head Coach)
Last Bowl Game: 2010 Hawaii Bowl (beat Hawaii 62-35)
9/3: at Oklahoma (2009 result: lost 45-0)
9/10: at Tulane (2010 result: won 52-24)
9/17: Oklahoma State (2010 result: lost 65-28)
9/24: at Boise State (2009 result: lost 28-21)
10/1: North Texas
10/22: at Rice (2010 result: won 64-27)
10/29: SMU (2010 result: lost 21-18)
11/3: at UCF
11/19: at UTEP (2010 result: won 31-28)
11/26: Houston (2010 result: won 28-25)
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 41.4 ppg (1st in C-USA, 6th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 216.92 yds/game (1st in C-USA, 15th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 288.7 yds/game (3rd in C-USA, 13th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 505.6 yds/game (1st in C-USA, 5th in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 30.3 ppg (6th in C-USA, 85th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 131.85 yds/game (3rd in C-USA, 34th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 319.0 yds/game (12th in C-USA, 120th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 450.8 yds/game (10th in C-USA, 110th in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: +1.31 per game (6th in C-USA, 2nd in Nation)
Penalties: 41.8 yds/game (4th in C-USA, 21st in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB G.J. Kinne, Sr (275 of 460 for 3650 yds, 31 TD, 120 INT)
Rushing: QB G.J. Kinne, Sr (158 for 561, 3.5 ypc, 7 TD)
Rushing: WR Damaris Johnson, Sr (55 for 560, 10.1 ypc, 7 TD)
Receiving: WR Damaris Johnson, Sr (57 rec for 872 yds, 4 TD)
Tackles: LB Curnelius Arnick, Jr (116)
Sacks: LB Shawn Jackson, Soph (8.5)
Interceptions: BANDIT Dexter McCoil, Jr; S Marco Nelson, Soph (6)
2011 Bowl Predictions:
Athlon: New Orleans Bowl (vs FIU)
Phil Steele: Armed Forces Bowl (vs BYU)
Todd Graham had a very successful run at Tulsa as his teams came in first (or a tie for first) in C-USA West in three out of his four years. Now Graham has moved on to coach the Pittsburgh Panthers in the Big East and Tulsa has chosen Bill Blankenship as his replacement. Blankenship played QB at Tulsa in the last seventies but there has to be concern that his only collegitate coaching experience was these past three years where he served under Graham. The good news is that Blankenship has a senior QB to lean on in G.J. Kinne. Kinne not only led the Golden Hurricane in passing last year but was also the teams leading rusher. Matt Elder over at BuffaloBillsDraft.com thinks pretty highly of him as he ranks him his #4 prospect out of all the senior QBs in this years draft class. Some more good news is that Phil Steele has Tulsa as the second most experienced team in C-USA behind SMU and the third most experienced team in the entire country. Despite the departure of Graham, Tulsa's offense should still be pretty violent this year as they return Kinne, their next three top rushers, their leading receiver and 116 career OL starts. One thing we don't like about Tulsa is the way their season starts. They go to Oklahoma in game one and then play Okie State in game 3 and travel to Boise for game 4. That's three big time Top 15 opponents (possibly Top 10) for a team with a brand new head coach. The in-conference schedule is much kinder as Southern Miss and East Carolina don't make the schedule this year and both Houston and SMU are at home. To get an inside take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane we caught up with Eric Bailey of Tulsa World.
Tulsa went 10-3 last year winning their last 7 games. They face a huge challenge at the beginning of their schedule as they face Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State. Which one of those games do they have the best chance of winning?
All three of those games will be extremely tough, but I'd have to say the Oklahoma State game because it is at home. That's no discredit to OSU, because it has an outstanding team. But you look at the body of work at Oklahoma (which has only lost two home games under Stoops since 1999) and the regular-season home game run of Boise and it will be difficult to leave either of those places with a victory.
Head Coach Todd Graham has moved on to Pittsburgh and Bill Blankenship is the new man in town. Will he be able to pick up where Graham left off and what do you look for him to do differently?
Bill Blankenship was a successful high school coach at Tulsa Union, a Class 6A power, but gained valuable college experience over the past four years on Graham's staff. The majority of the players on the team - especially locally - were recruited by Blankenship and he's well-respected. He's promised not to change any on offense, which has been the team's strength. The key is if he can get the defense to improve. He has a lot of talent returning to be successful in Conference USA.
For those that don't follow Tulsa that closely...give us a couple of under-the-radar guys to keep an eye on.
Look for tailback Trey Watts, if he stays healthy, to be the key back for the Hurricane. Blankenship seems to want to have an established running back. The past two seasons, quarterback G.J. Kinne has let the team in rushing. On defense, Shawn Jackson was an important freshman that could be a star on this team as a sophomore this year. He'll line up at linebacker.
Who are some newcomers that can come in and immediately help this year?
The coaches are looking forward to freshman wide receiver Keyarris Garrett, a 6-5, 190-pounder that could be an impact in his first season. There aren't many "established" receivers this season and he could emerge. On defense, keep an eye out for defensive back Kwame Sexton, who is from Holland Hall Prep in Tulsa.
What is the one game on the schedule this year that Tulsa fans want to win more than any other?
It's obvious that the Tulsa fans would love to have either Boise State or Oklahoma because of the attention it would receive. An Oklahoma State victory would help ease the pain of a 65-28 loss in Stillwater last season. But I think TU needs to beat Houston in the regular-season finale on the day after Thanksgiving. That game could very well decide the Conference USA West Division champion.
What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
I think the Hurricane could easily start the season 1-3 and end with an 8-4 record and play in the Conference USA championship game. The first month is probably the toughest of any school in the nation. But the league schedule is a bit kinder, with C-USA rivals SMU and Houston having to play at Tulsa. A trip to UCF may be the toughest road trip in league play.
Next Preview: Utah
Coming August 1st: CFBZ Top 25 Countdown
2011 Team Previews