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Preview: BYU vs. Tulsa

When Houston lost it’s CUSA title game match up with Southern Miss, many Cougar fans were hoping Houston would drop all the way to the Armed Forces Bowl. A bowl game against the almost-BCS-bustin’ other Cougars would have given our Cougars a chance to salvage a disappointing season against some legitimate competition. Instead, the 9-3 Cougars will face the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane (8-4, 7-1 C-USA). While most fans are probably underwhelmed at the prospect of playing Tulsa, the Golden Hurricane’s four losses all came against teams that were ranked in the top 10 at the time. Here is a preview of what to expect from this game:
Offense:

Quarterback
Tulsa’s offense averages 249 yards passing a game, good for 41st in the nation. Senior quarterback, G.J. Kinne has passed for almost 3,000 yards this season, with a TD/Int ratio of 25/12. His QB rating of 147.7 appears stellar, until you compare it to his rating in games against stiffer competition. In games against Boise St and Houston his QB rating was a paltry 84.45. (Against Oklahoma St. he was injured in the 1st quarter. Against Oklahoma, he was a serviceable 18/33 for 271 yards).

Running Back-
The running back stable at Tulsa has been respectable all year long.  Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas have Tulsa as the 24th best rushing team in the nation, averaging 204 yards/game on the ground. While both are solid, Douglas has been a home-run hitter at times for the Golden Hurricane, with five runs of 30+ yards, and two of over 80. He will be the one the Cougar defense will have to keep from getting to the second level.

Receivers-
G.J. Kinne has been good at spreading the football to several different receivers all year. The group is led by Willie Carter and Bryan Burnham. Both have pretty good size, at 6’2, and have had very solid statistical seasons. Big tight end Clay Sears has 6 TD receptions on the year, and is also capable of making a long play. This is definitely a group of receivers that can get behind the secondary and make you pay. BYU will have to be careful to not allow that to happen to control the Tulsa offense.

Defense:

Tulsa’s defense definitely isn’t anything to write home about. They’ve given up an average of almost 28 points a game, and surrendered an average of almost 49 in their four losses. Even in a win against Marshall in early November, the defense gave up 393 yards of total offense. Senior linebacker Curnelius Arnick leads the defense, whose strength and maturity is found at the linebacker position. It is a defense that Riley Nelson and the Cougar offense should be able to expose early and often.

What to watch for:

1. Tulsa’s spread offense is capable of scoring points in bunches. They’ve seen lots of success with their hurry-up offense. In 2007, when Tulsa defeated BYU 55-47, Bronco claimed he had no idea what he was defending.

2. Cody Hoffman and Ross Apo vs. Tulsa DB’s Dexter McCoil and Milton Howell. McCoil is 6’4. Howell is 6’0. One of Riley Nelson’s favorite plays, jump ball to ‘The Hoff’, may not be as effective if the 6’4 McCoil is on him.

3. BYU defensive line vs Tulsa offensive line. Tulsa’s offensive line is vastly improved from last year. In 2010, they allowed 28 sacks. In 2011, that same unit has only allowed only 11. BYU will have to disrupt the flow of their hurry-up offense somehow, and pressure on the quarterback is most likely to accomplish that.

Prediction:

This match up with Tulsa isn’t likely to be a walk in the park. The quick score capability of their offense is something BYU has only seen once this year — vs. TCU. Both offenses will score, and do so often; however, BYU’s defense will come up with enough stops to put the game out of reach by the 3rd quarter. BYU 42 Tulsa 24

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