#97 Tulsa Football 2016 Preview

Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Overall Rank: #97
#9 American


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Tulsa had a successful debut season under Coach Philip Montgomery, reaching the Independence Bowl and giving Virginia Tech a good game. As usual with the Golden Hurricane, the offense can score on anybody, but the defense will not give the offense much help at all. The story should be the same again in year two under Coach Montgomery.
2015 Record: 6-7, 3-5
2015 Bowl: Independence Bowl vs Virginia Tech (L 52-55)
Coach: Philip Montgomery (6-7 at Tulsa, 6-7 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Philip Montgomery
Defensive Coordinator: Bill Young
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: D’Angelo Brewer, RB, 837 yards
Passing: Dane Evans, QB, 4,332 yards
Receiving: Josh Atkinson, WR, 1,071 yards
Tackles: Matt Linscott, LB, 107
Sacks: Matt Linscott, LB, 5.0
Interceptions: Kerwin Thomas, CB, 2; Jeremy Brady, S, 2
Other Key Returnees: WR Justin Hobbs, WR Keevan Lucas, LB Trent Martin, K Redford Jones, P Dalton Parks
Key Losses: WR Keyarris Garrett, RB Zack Langer, WR Conner Floyd, S Michael Mudoh, DE Derrick Alexander
With receivers Josh Atkinson and Keevan Lucas back, quarterback Dane Evans will have another huge year. Keyarris Garrett is gone, but as long as Lucas stays healthy, this will be a great group of receivers. Garrett led the team with 96 receptions for 1,588 yards and eight touchdowns last year, while Atkinson is the team’s top returnee with 76 catches for 1,071 yards. Lucas only played in four games last year due to injury, but he is a superb talent. Justin Hobbs, who caught 32 passes for 551 yards as a freshman, emerged in the spring while Atkinson and Lucas were nursing injuries. Evans is now a very experienced senior who threw for 4,332 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2015. The potential problems on offense are at running back and on the line. Ramadi Warren is coming off of a strong bowl performance and the hopes are high for Warren to help replace the production of Zack Langer. Still, this was not a team that ran particularly well in 2015, so getting more balance even without Langer will help keep Tulsa’s defense off of the field and the opposition at least a little off balance.
There is nowhere to go but up for the Golden Hurricane defense. They allowed a total of 536.6 yards and nearly 40 points per game last year. It’s quite amazing that they were able to win six games with numbers like that. There is a lot of talent returning on the defensive side of the ball, but Tulsa needs to find better production out of players like Jeremy Smith and Jesse Brubaker on the line, Matt Linscott and Trent Martin at linebacker and Jeremy Brady and Kerwin Thomas in the secondary.
The Bottom Line:
If the defense improves, which it will, and the offense can stay as productive as they were a year ago, this is a team that will win six or seven games. However, the losses on the offensive line are huge and getting players like Blake Belcher back from injury is very important. Evans spent a lot of time on the ground as it was last year and now it could be worse. And the Tulsa ground game could suffer too. And all of that will have an effect on the passing game. Expect the defense to be a bit better, but probably not enough to make up for the losses suffered on offense. Still, this is a team that will score around 35 points per game and be very fun to watch.
Projected Bowl: Cure Bowl
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 174.2 (61st in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 333.2 (11, 2)
Total Offense: 507.4 (13, 2)
Scoring Offense: 37.2 (21, 3)
Rushing Defense: 239.7 (117, 11)
Pass Defense: 296.9 (124, 12)
Total Defense: 536.6 (125, 12)
Scoring Defense: 39.8 (120, 11)
Turnover Margin: 0.31 (39, 6)
Sacks: 1.62 (97, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 3.15 (116, 11)