The Tulsa football team completed 15 days of spring practice on Saturday with the annual Spring Game, as the final day culminated with a 64-play scrimmage, offense vs. defense.
Spring game festivities began with fans catching passes from TU quarterbacks and throwing passes to Hurricane receivers.
"I know it's not very politically correct, but I don't put a whole lot of stock in the spring game," Tulsa coach Bill Blankenshp said. "Most of the work is done through 14 practices, the spring game is more of a celebration. I'm happy to get done, and I don't think we had any major injuries."
The Tulsa defense stuffed the first three possessions for the Hurricane offense during today's spring game, including a fumble recovery by red-shirt freshman Jake Hanks on the first drive.
Intermission included a performance by participants of the spirit clinic, a presentation of the Brett Adams Iron Will Award to graduating senior offensive lineman Gabe Moyer and the introduction of new head basketball coach Frank Haith and his family.
The Hurricane offense got on trek following the intermission.
Tulsa's offense scored three touchdowns on the day as sophomore James Flanders ran in from one yard out to cap a 30-yard drive for the offenses' first touchdown. Tulsa's next two TDs came on drives led by true freshman quarterback Jabe Burgess against the first-team defense.
On his first play of the game, Burgess completed a 28-yard pass to another true freshman, McLain High School product Nigel Carter. Two plays later, Burgess through a six-yard strike to junior Chris Showels for a touchdown. Burgess then led the offense on a 12-play, 40-yard drive and threw the final six yards to redshirt freshman Cole Taylor.
Blankenship talked about the progress of the quarterback position following the spring game.
"The thing we love about the quarterback position – it doesn't matter where you are in the pecking order," Blankenship said. "As I said before, Dane kind of separated himself, but I think Jabe said, ‘hey wait a minute, not so fast.' He got in a tougher situation today and probably produced more. He has to be more consistent, but it sure is exciting to see what he can do."
"It will be interesting to see what happens as Jabe comes through the summer when he has his eyes clear, everything is different, and he's not that brand new freshman anymore. I think he made a good move today. It will be interesting to see. I think both of those guys (Dane and Jabe) will work really hard," Blankenship added.
Flanders ended the day with 119 yards and one TD on 14 carries. He had runs of 45 and 43 yards. Burgess completed 5-of-8 passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns, while Evans threw for 31 yards on 4-of-13 for the day. The Tulsa defense was led by senior Donnell Hawkins with 4.5 tackles, 2 TFLs for -4 yards and one sack for -4 yards.
Flanders stood out today on offense with two 40+ runs from scrimmage.
"The thing I love about James, he's done it for 14 practices and today people got to see what we've seen. He never had what I would call a bad day. He continued to improve every time he hit the field and showed us flashes of why we have a lot to hope for," said Blankenship
Overall, Blankenship was pleased with spring drills.
"I was pleased with spring drills. We made a lot of progress on both sides of the ball. We got really good work in of being physical. You just can't get in enough tackling, it's hard to practice that, but we were able to do it the way we set up practice this year," added Blankenship.
Blankenship was pleased with the way the defense progressed during spring drills. "The defense continues to grow," Blankenship said. "When we have the whole group out there like we did today, it really makes us a lot better. We're much better up front then we were as far as depth goes, and I think that will help the linebackers grow up a little bit."
Blankenship was asked about players that made an impression on the coaching staff during spring drills.
"There are guys we knew what they could do, but guys like H-Back Mandel Dixon Jr., and lineman Rob Boyd and Chris Wallace on offense had eye-opening springs for us, and certainly James (Flanders)," Blankenship said.
"Defensively, you see similar things, Donnell Hawkins said ‘don't count me out of this thing, I can be one of the top three linebackers.' He looked like he can help us a lot. The corner position continued to show good depth. We're a little beat up there right now, but nothing serious. Kerwin Thomas was a guy that no one was really talking about, but now he's in the mix at cornerback, and probably some others. Craig Suits, a youngster, who probably should be down the line, but he may be really competing for a spot with the first rotation," added Blankenship.
Tulsa will open the 2014 season on Thursday, August 28 with an American Athletic Conference match-up against Tulane at Tulsa's H.A. Chapman Stadium.
Spring Game Statistics
James Flanders, 14-119, 1 TD
Jeremy Brady, 6-22
Rowdy Simon, 8-7
Dane Evans, 5-7
Joseph Calcagni, 1--7
TOTAL: 34-144, 3 TDs
Dane Evans, 4-13, 31 yards
Joseph Calcagni, 3-6, 21 yards
Jabe Burgess, 5-8, 64 yards, 2 TDs
Ryan Rubley, 1-1, 8 yards
TOTAL: 13-28, 124 yards, 2 TDs
Keevan Lucas, 2-4
Derek Patterson, 2-10
Nigel Carter, 1-28
Josh Atkinson, 1-9
Randall Smith, 2-7
Mandell Dixon, Jr., 1-25
Chris Showels, 2-19, 1 TD
Cole Taylor, 1-6, 1 TD
Kolton Shindelar, 1-16
TOTAL: 13-124, 2 TDs
Donnell Hawkins, 4.5 tackles, 2 TFL for -4 yards, 1 sack for -4 yards
Brentom Todd, 1 sack for -10 yards
Derrick Luetjen, 1 sack for -7 yards
Jake Sizelove, 3.5 tackles