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Know the foe: Tulsa

A look at Tulsa, which plays at USF on Thursday night.
Luke Skipper has started the last four games for Tulsa, including its 45-17 rout of Houston. (Brett Rojo/Tulsa World via AP)
Luke Skipper has started the last four games for Tulsa, including its 45-17 rout of Houston. (Brett Rojo/Tulsa World via AP)
Published Nov. 13, 2017

A look at Tulsa, which faces USF on Thursday at Raymond James Stadium

Nickame: Golden Hurricane
Record: 2-8 (1-5 American Athletic Conference)
Wins: vs. Louisiana, 66-42; vs. Houston, 45-17
Losses: at Oklahoma State, 59-24; at Toledo, 54-51; vs. New Mexico, 16-13; vs. Navy, 31-21; at Tulane, 62-28; at Connecticut, 20-14; at SMU, 38-34; vs. Memphis, 41-14
Coach: Philip Montgomery (third season, 18-18)

Offensive breakdown: The transition away from 11,000-yard passer Dane Evans (now in the CFL) has been a struggle for Tulsa, which has dropped three in a row. USF fans would be wise to remain leery, however, if for no other reason than the Golden Hurricane's 45-17 rout of Tulsa on Oct. 14. While clearly an aberration in an otherwise putrid season, the bottom line is, Tulsa ran for nearly 300 yards and went 9-of-17 on third down against a team that beat the Bulls. Though sophomore Chad President opened the season as the starter, he has since been replaced by 6-foot-2 redshirt freshman Luke Skipper (65-of-116, 1,022 yards, three touchdowns, four INTs), who started against Houston and has started the three games since. To be sure, Skipper has struggled with his consistency, but Tulsa generally has remained a solid offensive team. Its OFD metric (percentage of offensive drives that result in a touchdown or at least one first down) ranked 23rd nationally as of a week ago. The bellcow is senior sparkplug D'Angelo Brewer (220 carries, 1,099 yards, eight TDs), a two-time 1,000-yard rusher who is 153 yards from becoming the school's career rushing leader. Two receivers — 6-4 junior Justin Hobbs and 6-1 sophomore Keenen Johnson — each have more than 40 catches.

Defensive breakdown: Though technically the Bulls' senior night opponent, the Golden Hurricane defense has homecoming opponent written all over it. Tulsa ranks 127th out of 130 Division I-A teams in total defense (547.5 ypg) and has proven especially susceptible to the run (270.8 ypg). The advanced metrics (through Nov. 4) are equally abysmal. The Golden Hurricane's DFD rate (percentage of opposing offensive drives that result in a touchdown or at least one first down) is .853, which ranks 126th. Seven of their 10 opponents have produced a 100-yard rusher; Navy produced two. Now, they face the nation's seventh-ranked rushing offense (276.7 ypg), which will feature two senior tailbacks (and a running quarterback) almost certainly playing their final collegiate game at Raymond James Stadium.

Odds and ends: Bulls offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert was Montgomery's offensive coordinator/QBs coach in 2015, when Tulsa finished 6-7 and ranked 13th nationally in total offense (507.4 ypg) and 11th in passing (333.2). The two also worked together on Art Briles' staff at Houston in '05. … Thursday's game will be Tulsa's third consecutive weeknight contest. … Senior PK Redford Jones is the program's alltime scoring leader (303 points). … The Golden Hurricane have no Floridians on their roster.

Audible: "He's growing every week. He's had some good halves. I thought the first half of the SMU game (when Tulsa led 28-21) and the first half of our Memphis game (when Tulsa trailed 21-14), I thought he played the way I'd like him to play. I'd like him to be more consistent in the second half and come out and operate at that same high level. But he's growing." — Montgomery on Skipper


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