Saturday represented a complete 180 for the Tulsa defense. Many teams always say they've improved over the offseason, but TU played like they did.
"[We’re] just getting more comfortable with the defense and understanding what you're supposed to do,” said defensive tackle Jesse Brubaker. “A lot of guys are able to react a lot faster because you know exactly what you're doing now."
Brubaker and the defense probably understand better than anyone that their performance against San Jose State was a complete a turnaround. The Golden Hurricane only gave up 287 total yards. The fewest yards the team gave up last year was 382 against East Carolina.
"We wanted to be better on the early downs but get them in 3rd downs situations and get them off the field,” explained Head Coach Philip Montgomery. “I thought we did a much better job of that.”
Brubaker has seen the ups and downs of the TU defense.
His career is up and down. He started as a true freshman, then sat out most 2014 with an eye injury. He came back last year under a new staff.
He caught an Interception and returned it for a touchdown against the Spartans, providing a little bit of vindication.
"It's been an interesting ride here, but uh, it's been great,” said Brubaker. “The interception, touchdown was awesome, but, you know, got to play the next play after that."