After pushing back the start of the season, Oklahoma State remains primed to take the field against Tulsa this upcoming weekend. With plenty of optimism surrounding the program, the Cowboys retain the best offense since 2011 as key players opted to return including Tylan Wallace and Chiba Hubbard. On the other side of the equation, the Golden Hurricane will need to show significant signs of improvement in order to compete — at least on paper.
An Overview of The Tulsa Golden Hurricane
On the offensive side of the ball, TU returns nine starters. The number alone bodes well for a program hopping to rebound under the direction of Philip Montgomery. At this current point in time, the head coach has a single winning season under his belt. Hoping to right the ship, the offensive line shoulders most of the burden. Surrendering 39 sacks is not a pleasant stat for any program. Despite the lackluster performance in the trenches, quarterback Zach Smith still managed to hurl 19 touchdowns while racking up 3,279 total yards of offense. In the backfield, Tulsa also returns a 1,046 yard rusher in Shamari Brooks.
On the opposite side of the ball, the defense returns a mere three starters. This could be a blessing in disguise as the unit as a whole proved the be pretty incapable against the run. Surrendering roughly 185 yards per game on the ground, opponents controlled the game more often than not. In addition, the team gave up another 209.7 yards through the air on average which is not bad in today’s college style of play. Where it gets interesting though was in the lack of created turnovers. In total, the Golden Hurricane forced 13 fumbles and five interceptions which lead to a negative mark in the turnover margin battle for the season.
On Saturday, Zack Long will most likely handle the kicking duties for Tulsa. As a junior the kicker took the field in 12 games and recorded touchbacks on 14.52% of his attempts. While that’s not a typically a huge issue, the concern comes in knowing Jacob Rainey parted ways with the program prior to this season starting. Rainey held the role of place kicker which is now vacated. Many assume Long will take over that role as well. However, Tulsa onboarded two freshman kickers during the recruiting process. Could one of those two wrangle the starting job from the other candidates before the season’s end?