Monday, April 4, 2011

Tulsa Golden Hurricane 2010 Review

2010 Review: 10-3 (6-2), 2nd Conference USA West
2010 Bowl Game: Hawaii Bowl, Defeated Hawaii 62-35
2010 Schedule/Result: @ East Carolina, L 51-49, Bowling Green, W 33-20, @ Oklahoma State, L 65-28, Centrl Arkansas, W 41-14, @ Memphis, W 48-7, @ SMU, L 21-18, Tulane, W 52-24, @ Notre Dame, W 28-27, Rice, W 64-27, @ Houston, W 28-25, UTEP, W 31-28, Southern Miss, W 56-50, Hawaii, W 62-35


     Tulsa's season was complete with exstatic elation and head scracthing frustration. The only thing that did matter at the end of the season was that the Golden Hurricane had come back to the forefront of CUSA, and had won 10 games and a bowl game. The extreme elation? That came from an offense that scored 30 points or more 10 times, after it had struggled with inconsisitencies and turnovers the season before. It came from a win over Notre Dame in South Bend that left the Irish faithful lividly shaking their heads in disgust. It came from going to Honolulu and trashing an extremely good Hawaii team in the bowl game in front of their home faithful. It cam from the return to form of QB GJ Kinne.
     The frustrations? They came in the form of dropping a season opening loss to East Carolina, when the defense, like many times in 2010, just could not come up with the big play. It came from another season of not being able to keep up with the in-state big boys, in this case Oklahoma State. It came with a road loss to a not nearly as deep or talented SMU club, costing Tulsa a shot at the CUSA title in the end. And it came at the end of the season with losing coach Todd Graham to Pittsburgh. Former assistant Bill Blankenship now takes over, and will try to keep the train moving in the right direction.
     It all began with the turnaround of QB GJ Kinne. Kinne had played out of his brain as a freshman, after he had transferred from Texas due to lack of opportunity at the time. Texas would probably kill to have him back now. He completely backtracked as a sophomore, however, as he looked completely lost, and Tulsa struggled behind him. His junior season was a return to form, and a promise of what can be in 2011. Kinne passed for 3650 yards and 31 TDs against just 10 picks in 460 attempts. He still did fall below the 60% completion mark, so you can be sure that Blankenship will force a focus on that area. What was stellar is that Kinne also led the Golden Hurricane in rushing yards with 561 and 7 TDs.
     Other than the rushing and passing exploits of Kinne, the backfield did not put together a ton of yardage. Of course, under Graham, everything went through the passing game, and rushing was the second option. Expect to see an increased rush game in 2011. Damaris Johnson, a super athlete by all counts, was the best non-QB rusher for TU, as he rushed for 560 yards as a receiver, and scored 7 TDs on the ground. The junior also ran up a receiving line of 57-872-4. But wait, that's not all. He also racked up another 904 yards in kick returns and scored nother TD in that area, and then added another 292 yards and one more score as a punt returner. He then became mayor of Tulsa, Ambassador to Estonia, and cured the "diabeetis". Alex Singleton only rushed for 399 yards, but he led the team with 11 TDs as a sophomore.
     Nine different Tulsa receivers caught TD passes in 2010, including Johnson, of course. Charles Clay, who was the second leading receiver on the team, led Tulsa with 7 TDs, afetr catching 43 passes for 526 yards. Jameel Owens had a line of 18-246-6, to finish second in TD grabs. Trae Johnson, Thomas Roberson, Ricky Johnson, Willie Carter, Trey Watts, and Clay Sears all caught scoring strikes in 2010.
     Defensively, Tulsa had some issues. They gave up 442.6 yards per game, and they were ripped for 305 yards per game passing.
     Curnelius Arnick led the team in tackles at LB as a sophomore with 116 on the season. He was the only TU defender that got to that point, but Shawn Jackson, Marco Nelson, and Tanner Antle all broke the 80 tackle barrier. Jackson and Antle were both LBs, and Jackson returns for 2011, while Antle has moved on. Nelson was a freshman DB. Jackson led the team as a freshman in 2010 in TFLs, and was one of two Hurricane defenders to rack up double digits with 15.5, while Tyrunn Walker picked up 11. Walker will be a senior on the line in 2011. Jackson also led the team with 8.5 sacks.
     Charles Davis was a major hawk in the secondary. He more than led the team with 11 passes defended. Marco Nelson was second with 6, while John Flanders, a junior in 2010, was the only other member of the secondary with 5. It should be mentioned that Jackson also led the team with 7 QB hurries. Tulsa, despite being pillaged through the air, picked off 24 passes last fall. Dexter McCoil and Marco Nelson each picked off 6 of those passes, with Nelson returning one for a score.
     Kevin Fitzpatrick was used frequently in 2010, and the results were mixed. Fitzpatrick connected on 16 of his 24 FGs on the season, not necessarily to be confused with automatic. He also connected on 63 of his 64 PATs. Michael Such will be very difficult to replace, as he was extremely solid at Punter for the Hurricanes. Such averaged 43.06 yards per punt on 48 punts on the year. Kinne punted in pooch kick situations 4 times.


Tulsa turned a major corner, but they may be back to starting over with a new staff in place. Kinne has high expectations once more in 2011, and it may all be on his shoulder to help new HC Bill Blankenship succeed in moving this program forward. The talent exists to win the CUSA title in 2010, and quite frankly, anything less may be a huge disappointment. This season will hold the key to how TU moves forward in the new era.

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