Bobby Lewis, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- The Golden Hurricane's biggest weapon on the ground the past few seasons has been quarterback G.J. Kinne. While new Tulsa head coach Bill Blankenship doesn't mind his signal caller making plays with his feet from time to time, he'd prefer to spread the wealth when it comes to rushing the football this season.
"I would like for him to not have to shoulder that load," said Blankenship. "Hopefully, (he'll) use some of those running backs to generate a little more in the run game."
Tulsa returns four running backs with prior experience. Juniors Alex Singleton and Willie Carter, and sophomores Trey Watts and Ja'Terian Douglas make up a budding 4-headed monster that combined for 17 rushing touchdowns last season.
"I'm really excited about the core of running backs we have," Blankenship said. "It's kind of a good thing to have running back by committee, but the downside is that means nobody has exerted themselves to get to the front of the group."
Singleton was the team's goal line bruiser. He scored nine of his 11 touchdowns from inside of three yards. At 6-foot-1, 245 pounds he is the go-to guy when the Golden Hurricane is hovering over the opponent's goal line.
Carter had a quiet statistical season for the first ten weeks of the season, but exploded down the stretch of the regular season. The H-back picked up half of his rushing yards against UTEP and Southern Miss and even caught a pair of long touchdown passes against the Golden Eagles.
Carter will be key to replacing the departed Charles Clay, who scored 38 career touchdowns as Tulsa's utility back before being drafted by the Miami Dolphins back in April.
"Charles knew how to work, knew how to carry himself and knew how to get better," said Blankenship. "Willie will be the guy that kind of takes over in that H-back, hybrid position."
Watts and Douglas saw time on the field in spurts as freshman. They rushed for 197 and 335 yards, respectively. The duo is expected to give defenses a different look from the power of Singleton and Carter's hybrid style.
Blankenship gushed about his young speedsters' ability to break away from defenders for long gains.
The Golden Hurricane will take on the Oklahoma Sooners in Week 1 of the regular season. Carter rushed four times for 27 yards against the Sooners in a 45-0 loss in 2009. None of the other running backs on this year's roster have ever faced Oklahoma.