SMU, Tulsa hope to rebound from losses

Friday, November 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Despite Tulsa losing eight games in a row, Southern Methodist coach Mike Cavan says it's no time to take the Golden Hurricane lightly.

``Like most of the teams in our league, Tulsa is a good football team and is capable of winning the football game if they don't beat themselves,'' Cavan said.

The Mustangs (2-6, 2-4 Western Athletic Conference) will attempt to snap a two-game losing streak at last place Tulsa (1-8, 0-6 WAC) on Saturday.

SMU's stingy defense, ranked 20th nationally and first in the league, is giving up only 313 yards a game and will face a young Tulsa offense.

``If you watched their defense and didn't know their record, you would say that's a very good defensive football team,'' Tulsa coach Keith Burns said.

Conversely, the Mustangs' offense is last overall in the WAC, generating 307 yards a game. But the team faces a besieged Tulsa defense that has given up 180 points and 1,940 yards in the last three games.

SMU quarterback David Page is connecting on 51 percent of his passes for 720 yards.

But Tulsa is weakest against the run and the Mustangs are fourth in the WAC in rushing offense behind true freshman back ShanDerrick Charles. Charles is the WAC's second leading rusher with 674 yards and five touchdowns. He is already breaking school records set by Eric Dickerson.

Tulsa will again be led by freshman quarterback Tyler Gooch as media speculation lingers about the future of junior Josh Blankenship, fourth on the school's all-time passing list with 4,993 yards but demoted earlier in the season.

Despite's its youth, TU's offense is improving, Burns said.

Rice beat the Hurricane 59-32 last week. But Gooch passed for 204 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 140 yards a score, including a 49 yard TD sprint that was the longest from scrimmage this season for the Hurricane.

Despite Tulsa's trials, Cavan said his team will have to focus. SMU won 24-20 last season in Dallas.

The Mustangs lost 38-13 last week to Fresno State, but were only a point down at halftime. Cavan wants a similar effort this week against the Hurricane.

``We need to be focused and ready to play, because the team that comes ready to play is the team that's going to win,'' he said.