Coach: Philip Montgomery (0-0, entering first season, 0-0 overall)
2014 record: 2-10, 2-6 in American Athletic Conference; 9th place in American
Look back: Tulsa established itself as a heavyweight in Conference USA despite cycling through five head coaches since 2000. Tulsa faced uncharacteristic adversity in 2012 and 2013, but coaches hoped to turn things around last season — the Golden Hurricane’s first year in the American Athletic Conference. However, the program continued to sputter. Tulsa saw steady production from redshirt sophomore quarterback Dane Evans, who threw 23 touchdown passes and collected 3,102 yards. The defense presented more of a challenge, with Tulsa ranked No. 116 in fourth-down conversions allowed and No. 114 in total defense.
The Golden Hurricane’s two wins came against the lower-tier conference teams SMU and Tulane. The school opted to make a coaching change, with Philip Montgomery, who previously was Baylor’s offensive coordinator, taking over the program.
Offensive starters returning: 10
Offensive starters lost: 1
Defensive starters returning: 7
Defensive starters lost: 4
Key losses: OL Davis Walton, K Carl Salazar, CB Dwight Dobbins, CB Austin McDaniel, DE Chris Hummingbird, S Demarco Nelson, LB Jake Sizelove
Top returnees: QB Dane Evans, WR Keevan Lucas, RB Zack Langer, DE Derrick Alexander, DT Derrick Luetjen, S Michael Mudoh, P Dalton Parks
Strengths: There’s no question the best part of Tulsa’s offense last season was the connection between quarterback Dane Evans and receiver Keevan Lucas.
Lucas amassed 1,219 yards, the sixth-best single-season performance in school history, last season and became the first receiver since 2007 to hit the 1,000-yard mark. His 11 receiving touchdowns were the most by Tulsa player since 2007 and he ranked No. 5 nationally in receptions per game (8.4) and 11th in receiving yards per game (101.6)
The receivers corps is the deepest position for Tulsa. Combine that with Montgomery’s previous success in the passing game as Baylor’s offensive coordinator and the air attack game should be the strength of the team in 2015.
Weaknesses: Tulsa’s defense struggled mightily last season, particularly its secondary, which helped allow 486.8 yards per game and led the nation in 30-plus-yard pass plays allowed. Co-defensive coordinators Bill Young and Brian Norwood will attempt to work out the kinks.
Outlook: Montgomery, a Broyles Award finalist in 2013, promised to bring “fast, fun and physical” football to Tulsa next season. The team should be much improved, with all but one of the Golden Hurricane’s starters on offense returning. The key will be improving the secondary, especially when the team hits a tough stretch of games in November against UCF, Cincinnati and Navy.
Sept. 5 vs. FAU
Sept. 12 vs. at New Mexico
Sept. 19 at Oklahoma
Oct. 3 vs. Houston
Oct. 10 vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Oct. 17 at East Carolina
Oct. 23 vs. Memphis
Oct. 31 at SMU
Nov. 7 vs. UCF
Nov. 14 at Cincinnati
Nov. 21 vs. Navy
Nov. 28 at Tulane
College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com