The Tulsa Golden Hurricane and the Texas Longhorns match up for their first-ever meeting Saturday. The Golden Hurricane is coming off of a come-from-behind victory against the Central Arkansas Bears, but Tulsa still brings a talented squad to take on Texas as they come off of a disappointing loss to Maryland.
Burnt Orange Nation: Tulsa had to come from behind not once, but twice against Central Arkansas to pull out a win. How did the Golden Hurricane end up in a comeback situation against the Bears?
Underdog Dynasty: The Tulsa defense is still in a bit of a transitional phase, to put it nicely. There was an infusion of new talent this offseason that this defense needed desperately, but I think it could take multiple games for that unit to fully gel and play well together. The offense ran the ball well and was efficient in throwing the ball but a sack and fumble late in the game was costly.
BON: In spite of their struggles, Tulsa managed to put up some big numbers in the running game. Will Tulsa continue to split carries between the two running backs or do you expect one back to carry the running game for the Golden Hurricane?
UD: Shamari Brooks will technically be the lead back but the coaching staff showed that they do trust Corey Taylor II, as well. Brooks carried it 27 times to Taylor’s 20 carries, that is the kind of ratio I would expect moving forward. With the defensive woes and some strength on the Golden Hurricane offensive line, expect them to lean on that run game to support the defense throughout the season.
BON: Last year, the Tulsa defense struggled, surrendering 528.9 yards per game and allowing opponents to convert 45 percent of their third-down conversions. Against Central Arkansas, they allowed just 247 yards and held them to 0-10 on third downs. What was the difference-maker for the Golden Hurricane?
UD: In 2017, Tulsa was unable to generate pressure on any of the opposing quarterbacks they faced. Central Arkansas was breaking in a new quarterback and in his first start, the revamped defensive line was able to get in his head a little bit. The third-down defense was terrific but several of those were drops by Bears receivers, I don’t expect that trend to continue.
BON: Tulsa does not have a listed offensive coordinator for the second consecutive year, and has seen their offensive performance steadily increase. What has changed with head coach Phillip Montgomery calling the plays for Tulsa?
UD: The tempo and the confidence in the run game have been the biggest changes. Montgomery’s past play-calling at Baylor was a lot like this, push tempo even more so than other spread offenses and lean on your offensive line to wear down the opposing defensive line.
BON: What is your outlook for the Golden Hurricane on Saturday?
UD: Maryland beating the Horns last weekend really dampens any upset bid that Tulsa may have had coming into this one, I think Tulsa is going to hang around in the first half but I think the talent and depth of the Texas roster is going to put this one to bed in the second half. Tulsa’s plan to pound on defensive lines with the run game isn’t going to be effective against a bigger, stronger team. Texas 38, Tulsa 21. (Tulsa covers +23).