Bobby Lewis, NewsOn6.com
TULSA, Oklahoma -- After one month of the college football season, the sting of Damaris Johnson's absence is still being felt in the Tulsa locker room. The Golden Hurricane has fewer receiving yards and fewer touchdowns this season than they did last year at this time.
Tulsa is 471 yards behind the pace it was at a season ago when quarterback G.J. Kinne was chucking the ball around to proven playmakers like Johnson and Charles Clay. That trio hooked up for 30 catches and over 300 yards during the first full month en route to a 2-2 start to 2010.
This year, both of Kinne's reliable targets are gone.
Flash forward to 2011, and in stepped little-known junior target, Bryan Burnham. The converted defensive back has grabbed 15 passes this season for 241 yards and five touchdowns. He wasn't expected to be a huge part of the Golden Hurricane passing attack a few months ago.
Now, he's the team's top weapon.
"Honestly, no," Burnham said when asked if he thought he'd be making an impact like this so soon. "But, with things happening with Damaris (indefinite suspension), I came in and tried to step up as much as I could and everybody's helping me a whole lot."
Burnham scored his first career touchdown in the team's opener against then-No. 1 ranked Oklahoma. He followed up that debut with a two touchdown performance against Tulane on the road. In Week 3, after struggling most of the night with a stingy Cowboys secondary keying on him, Burnham broke through for another pair of second half touchdowns against Oklahoma State.
His five touchdown catches leads the conference. Nobody else on the Golden Hurricane roster has more than one receiving score this season.
"G.J.'s helping me a whole lot," said Burnham. "All the receivers (have). Jordan James with his experience, Ricky Johnson, they've all just really been helping me and had my back."
Burnham should have plenty of opportunities against North Texas in Saturday's 6 p.m. kickoff. The Mean Green is allowing over 337 yards per game through the air.
"It's been a real fun season so far," Burnham said with a smile. "I hope to keep it going."
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