The numbers on Tulsa's defense last year were not pretty.
TU gave up 39 points and more than 486 yards per game and finished dead last in the nation in yards per play.
The team’s new coaching staff brings a new focus to the defense, so that won’t be the case this year. “We work on turnovers every single day [and] we talk about it in our meetings. We're doing everything we can to promote our players to strive for getting turnovers,” said TU Defensive Coordinator Bill Young.
The strategy has a history. Young’s Oklahoma State defense led the nation in turnover margin during its Big 12 Championship year in 2011. “What we try to do is we try to stop them in the red zone, get off the field on third down. We have to force turnovers,” explained Young.
Head Coach Philip Montgomery stated that it’s not about how many yards or first downs you give up, it’s about what you do on explosive plays.
Big plays were big problems for Tulsa last season. The Golden Hurricane gave up 13 touchdowns of 50 yards or more. “It's all about your emotional stability as a team. Something needs to happen. You can't just keep letting teams score touchdowns, you have to stop the big play, make them earn it, and get off the field on third down,” elaborated TU defensive end Derrick Alexander.
One defense that did make big plays was TU's Liberty Bowl team back in 2012. This year's senior leadership hopes to leave the same legacy. “Those seniors led that defense and that team in an incredible way,” said Tulsa safety Michael Mudoh. “Being a senior this year, I want to be able to say that as a senior, we led this group to an outstanding season.”
The memory of Tulsa’s old success is now providing fresh motivation for a new season that’s just a few weeks away.