Burns looks ahead to Hawaii

Monday, October 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(TULSA) - Tulsa coach Keith Burns made his team review game tape like usual Sunday. But this time, the tape didn't show Saturday's fourth straight loss.

Instead, it was video of last year's win over Hawaii.

The Golden Hurricane (1-4, 0-3 Western Athletic Conference) needs a win this week against Hawaii to meet the simple goal of six victories set by Burns at the start of the season. Dwelling on this season's failures won't help, Burns said.

``If we spend a whole lot of time worrying about being 1-4, there's a good chance we're going to be 1-5,'' he said.

And so, there was no review of the 41-10 beating Tulsa took from Boise State, a game in which the Broncos held a 350-yard advantage and a 32-to-9 margin in first downs. Tulsa starting quarterback Tyler Gooch left the game for the second straight week after aggravating a deep bruise on his right ankle.

The Golden Hurricane instead watched about 40 clips of ``us doing good stuff'' in beating the Rainbow Warriors 24-14 in Honolulu last year, Burns said.

Those highlights included Donald Shoals' touchdown on a 41-yard punt return and the defense forcing turnovers and making tackles.

``We've got a six-game season left,'' Burns said. ``Four of the remaining six games are teams that we have had success against. ... We've got three home game remaining. So we're trying to find all the positives and all the ways we can build upon this football team.''

Burns said he didn't like to use injuries as an excuse for his team's slump. But he said the defense has been hampered by the absence of starters Chad Smith at bandit and Keithan McCorry at rover. Both have been sidelined by ankle sprains and aren't expected to play this week.

The injuries have left Burns juggling players to fill the holes.

``You have some guys in some spots that you're asking them to do some things that's not fair to them,'' he said. ``Harold Burgess did not line up in the same position three weeks in a row.''

Gooch remains questionable at quarterback for the second week in a row. Burns opted to start him against Boise State despite the ankle injury that had hampered him in practice.

Gooch was 90 to 95 percent healed at gametime, Burns said.

He threw for 73 yards against Boise State and led one scoring drive before reinjuring the ankle with 6:34 left in the first half. Josh Blankenship, who started 20 games before losing the job to Gooch two weeks ago, relieved him, throwing for 113 yards.

Eric Richardson, who had a game-high 119 yards rushing against Fresno State, continues to suffer from a pinched nerve in his neck and has seen limited playing time.

Burns said he's disheartened by his team's failure to score points.

``We haven't had consistent play because we haven't had our guys in the game,'' he said.

Burns said winning six games remains a realistic goal, despite the fact one of the six is No. 2 Oklahoma at Norman on Nov. 3.

The game against the team Burns considers the best in college football could come at a good time by forcing his own team to play ``a notch higher.''

``It may not be up to their level, but it may be a notch higher than we've been playing and if that's the case I think that will be a good thing for us,'' he said.