Not having Damaris Johnson on the field is more than just a problem for G.J. Kinne and the receivers. The senior's absence is going to really hurt Trey Watts and the rest of the Tulsa running backs.
Johnson was the definition of a "field stretcher". He had the ability to blow by one-on-one coverage and pull safeties to his side of the field. With his speed out of the equation, opposing secondaries will be able to creep towards the line of scrimmage to help the lineman and linebackers stop the run, while still having time to get back and help on the deep ball to slower receivers like Thomas Roberson and Ricky Johnson.
Kinne is kind of handcuffed at this point.
It's hard to put so much stock in ONE player, but that is how much Damaris meant to Tulsa. He's caught 188 passes in his career. Watts is tabbed as the starting tailback for this team, but how will he be able to find any room to run if the team across the ball is keying in on stuffing the Tulsa run game?
Alex Singleton is primarily a short yardage guy, although the coaches are trying to expand his role. Ja'Terian Douglas is a speed threat, but without the threat of a guy getting open for passes, Tulsa's ability to lull defenses asleep and then hit them with his speed with taper off. Willie Carter becomes a very important X-factor for Tulsa now. He'll have to be used in more creative ways with Damaris out of the picture.
Play action passing may not work as well as Tulsa hopes, either. Jordan James is expected to be a big factor at receiver, but unless draw plays work early, he won't be able to fool anyone.
Johnson was a bigger part of the offense than just the little guy running around catching passes. He was a decoy, a scapegoat and a lifeline. Now, Tulsa is treading water.