Pairing up with an in-state opponent often brings about a certain level of familiarity. Such is the case as the Tulsa Golden Hurricane prepares to make the short trip to Stillwater where the Oklahoma State Cowboys await. In anticipation of the matchup, there are several questions that TU must answer before taking the field against a highly potent offense.
Can Tulsa’s Offensive Line Protect The Quarterback?
Zach Smith is entering a senior season after transferring into the program and earning the starting job. Throwing for 3,279 yards, the arm strength and talent are there to make opponents pay. Yet, the offensive line remains the biggest concern.
A year can make a world of difference. But, the offensive line surrendered an unwanted 3.25 sacks per game during the 2019 campaign. While shuffling parts around the offensive line, the group returns four starters. Experience and knowledge of the system will play a factor. But, if the Golden Hurricane can’t protect Smith in the backfield it could be a long day for the offense as a whole.
Which Player Provides The Outside Pass Rush For TU?
Undoubtedly, the best passer rusher on the team in Trevis Gipson is gone which leaves a gaping hole on the defensive side of the ball. As a senior, the lineman racked up 15 tackles for loss and eight sacks to lead the program in the statistical categories. Behind Gipson, the next closest player on the line tallied seven tackles for loss and one sack on the year.
Replacing they type of production isn’t easy. Looking at the roster, there are capable players on the interior. Now Tulsa must find a complimentary defender on the edge of the line to take advantage of any double teams on Tyarise Stevenson.
Can The Golden Hurricane Secure Interceptions Consistently?
Glancing at the stat sheet, Tulsa remained competitive when winning the turnover margin throughout 2019. While it didn’t always led to a win for the Golden Hurricane, forcing turnovers helped secure a win over No. 24 UCF and a shot to take down No. 17 Memphis.
In total, TU held a -1 turnover margin this past year. It’s a major reason why the program posted a 4-8 record.
As a unit, the defense proved to be the biggest liability of the 2019 season. Securing turnovers will help the group build confidence and get off the field more often. Who knows, it could even lead to a few upsets throughout the upcoming campaign.