2019 Tulsa Football Season Preview
Last year was a long, dreadful season if you were a Golden Hurricane fan–the offense struggled and the defense was inconsistent. 2019 could be the tipping point for coach Philip Montgomery and his future with the Tulsa football program.
2018 Record: 3-9 overall, 2-6 in AAC
Head Coach: Philip Montgomery, 5th year, 21-29
The offense was not very good last season–at least passing the football, and averaged 378 yards and 24 points per game total. The quarterback position will see a new starter as former No.1 Luke Skipper retired from football–it will now come down to former Baylor Bear Zach Smith and last year’s backup Seth Boomer who performed well in limited duty.
The running game was the highlight of last year’s offense and they possess a deadly 1-2 punch with Shamari Brooks and Corey Taylor. Combined those two ran for more than 1,800 yards in 2018 and will look to increase that total this season.
The wide receivers are solid not spectacular–in Spring ball, top receiver Keylon Stokes built a nice rapport with Zach Smith–so if he wins the QB job, that duo could be deadly to start the season, certainly something to keep an eye on.
The success of the offense will come down to the big guys up front. The team needs help at tackle and needs to be a lot more consistent in pass protection. The running game is there – the Golden Hurricane averaged 200 yards per game on the ground – but the quarterbacks weren’t given nearly enough time to work.
The defense was inconsistent last season, but this year they return nine starters from the 3-3-5 alignment they installed in 2018. The pass defense was the best in the American Athletic Conference, but that’s only the case because team’s ran all over them – the run D was pounded on for 233 yards per game.
The defensive line was beat up and dominated last season–accumulating a paltry 14 sacks to go along with the poor run defense. Senior Trevis Gipson and sophomore Zaven Collins need to become more productive and take the steps necessary to hold their own in the AAC.
The linebackers and secondary are solid–they excel in pass coverage, at least on paper. Linebacker Cooper Edmiston led the team in interceptions, but safety Manny Bunch leads a solid group that will make plays, but just won’t do enough to take the ball away. The defensive backs won’t be the issue if the defense struggles again.
Tulsa’s offense will need to be improved to climb the AAC-ladder. The passing attack hit the 200-yard mark just three times and only put up multiple touchdowns just two times. Baylor transfer Zach Smith has to be a difference-maker. Defensively, STOP the run. The Tulsa D was hit for over 190 rushing yards ten times, in 12 games. The two times it didn’t – the opener against Central Arkansas and the season-ender against SMU – the Golden Hurricane won.
Tulsa has to come up with the wins somewhere, and the schedule isn’t much help. East Carolina and San Jose State are winnable games, but they’re on the road. UCF, Houston, Memphis, Oklahoma State are all coming to Tulsa, but they’re all problems. This team is more talented than last year’s squad that won three–but with the schedule it’s hard to predict a bowl-eligible team.