Tulsa's No-Huddle Offense Will Be Tested Against Oklahoma

Monday, September 17th 2007, 4:20 pm
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Tulsa's no-huddle offense clicked to deliver a statement win over Brigham Young last weekend, but the fast-paced scheme will be put to the test Friday against Oklahoma.

"A lot of people think we tricked BYU, we didn't trick BYU," coach Todd Graham said Monday, two days after the Golden Hurricane (2-0) won a wild 55-47 game here. "The pace at which we do things is very important, it's our philosophy of what we're trying to accomplish. We're trying to get the ball to our best people and we've got a system in place that we've spent some time installing," he said.

In that system, brought from Arkansas by offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, quarterback Paul Smith passed for a career-best 454 yards Saturday and five touchdowns -- four of those coming on consecutive possessions.

The outcome delivered first-year coach Graham a sought after statement win and gave the program its first 2-0 start since 1998. Graham was quick to shift attention off the offensive technique and onto his players.

"It's not about some magical scheme," Graham said. "We have a really, really, really good quarterback that makes really good decisions and can really, really throw the ball well, and what you've seen is a dramatic improvement in the guys he's throwing it to."

The system, which Graham said was designed to beat the "best teams on our schedule," will be tested against No. 4 Oklahoma (3-0), which beat Utah State 54-3 on Saturday.

"You say you try to treat it like every other game as far as preparation and your focus goes, but we still know it's the Sooners in the back of our head," Smith said. "I'm really excited to get another chance to play them."

Tulsa last played Oklahoma in 2005 at Norman, with OU winning 31-15. The last time the Hurricane beat Oklahoma came in 1996.

"You're not going to trick Bob Stoops or Brent Venables," Graham said. "That's not the idea of our offense anyway."

Despite the team's offensive fireworks against BYU, Graham said his team almost squandered the game due to poor special teams coverage. Tulsa gave up 27 points in the second quarter alone.

"What happened to us in the second quarter, we had some guys who were starting on defense running down on kickoff cover that were tired," Graham said. "We almost lost a football game Saturday because of our kickoff cover, and we can't have that."

To prepare for Oklahoma during the short week, players practiced Sunday night. Graham said he won't need to give any motivational speeches to his squad about going up against Friday's opponent.

"We went out and practiced last night after playing a very, very physical game," Graham said. "We had 100 percent of our kids in practice, fired up and ready to go, and not one of them was thinking about BYU."