The Golden Hurricane is set to kick off the season against Florida Atlantic Saturday afternoon at Chapman Stadium.
Since the team was taken over by new Head Coach Philip Montgomery, he and his staff have been working to help the team move on from its past two unsuccessful seasons. “Coach Montgomery came in and it's just a totally different culture,” said receiver Keevan Lucas (at TU Media Day).
So, what can we expect from Tulsa in Game 1 under its new leadership?
Faster Play Style
Montgomery is known for his up-tempo style, so expect for the team to average more snaps, keeping defenses on their heels. He averaged 90 snaps per game at Baylor vs. Tulsa’s average of 78 in the past two years. “I don't know of a quarterback that wouldn't like this system,” quarterback Dane Evans previously stated. “It's fun, it's fast [and] we throw it a lot, but the good thing about our system is we also have a great run game.”
Improved Defense, Fewer Turnovers
Tulsa’s defensive numbers were pretty bad last year. The Golden Hurricane gave up 39 points and more than 486 yards per game, finishing last in the nation in yards per play. So that won’t be the case this year, the team’s new coaching staff has put an emphasis on forcing turnovers.
Defensive Coordinator Bill Young has just the strategy for this. When Young was at Oklahoma State, his defense led the nation in turnover margin during its Big 12 Championship year in 2011. By stopping teams in the red zone and getting off the field on third down will make for a better defense, which will change those ugly numbers and help yield more wins for TU.
TU is returning 10 offensive starters, one being Keevan Lucas who led Tulsa in receiving yards and receptions last season. The team will also return its leading rusher Zack Langer and starting quarterback Dane Evans. With Montgomery’s offensive style and guidance over Tulsa’s key players (and the offense as a whole), the Golden Hurricane has a chance to dominate this side of the ball in the American.
Despite The Odds, TU Won’t Back Down
TU was predicted to finish dead last in the AAC’s West Division in this year’s preseason poll, but despite popular belief Tulsa is ready to prove everyone wrong. The team says they're going to play with that chip on their shoulder and use it as motivation.
Many are still looking at the Golden Hurricane as the 2013-2014 team they once were, but the team has made a lot of changes in its effort to start rebuilding, right down to its new coaching staff, new style of play, new talents, and new attitudes. You know what they say, “With change comes confidence.” And maybe with confidence comes victories.