Green’s progress helps fuel Tulsa’s expectations
Cody Green spent part of last season becoming acclimated as
Tulsa’s starting quarterback.
That’s saying something about Green’s ceiling, considering Tulsa
went 11-3 and won Conference USA while Green was learning on the
Green, the former Nebraska transfer, returns this season for his
final go-around in college football. It’s one that begins with high
expectations for Tulsa – which features seven starters returning on
an offense that averaged 457.1 yards per game last season.
”I expect the whole offense should improve,” third-year Tulsa
coach Bill Blankenship said. ”We’re a veteran squad there, not
just the quarterback. We’ve got at least seven others that started
and a whole bunch of others that played, so I’d be real
disappointed of the offense doesn’t progress and show marked
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Green accounted for 2,875 yards of total
offense (2,592 passing, 283 rushing) last season for Tulsa.
However, he only completed 54 percent of his passes.
That number rose to 57 percent over the Golden Hurricane’s final
seven games, giving hope to the thought that Green has yet to play
his best football. If that’s the case, there’s no telling how far
the Texas native could carry Tulsa this season.
”I don’t think there’s anything defensively that a team can do
that I haven’t seen yet,” Green said.
Blankenship, the former quarterback at the school who has guided
Tulsa to a 19-8 record in two seasons, called Green a ”completely
different guy” so far during the preseason. Now it’s time to see
how that translates as the Golden Hurricane try to move up in the
”Cody is much more confident and secure,” Blankenship said.
”He has a stronger handle on what’s going on. I think he really
benefits from having 14 games at the helm of this unit and having
all summer with them.”
Five things to watch as Tulsa looks to make the jump from
Conference USA power to national factor:
1. NEW LOOK: The Golden Hurricane fielded one of the most
aggressive defenses in the country last year, finishing second in
the nation in sacks (53) and third in average sacks per game
(3.79). Eight starters are gone this season on that side of the
ball, but linebacker Shawn Jackson – and his 18 career sacks –
returns. Jackson needs just two more sacks to tie the school record
of 20, and he’ll be counted on to lead a talented, but
inexperienced group. ”We’re recruiting the kind of athletes that
can continue to put pressure on quarterbacks,” Blankenship said.
”And to run an attacking style of defense.”
2.OKLAHOMA LOOMING: Blankenship’s first game as the Tulsa coach
came in a 47-14 loss in 2011 to Oklahoma, dropping the Golden
Hurricane to 7-17-1 all-time against the in-state powerhouse. Tulsa
returns to Norman on Sept. 14, this time with a senior-laden
offense that’s no stranger to playing against – and defeating – BCS
schools. The Golden Hurricane avenged an early loss last season to
Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl, and it nearly pulled off a road win
at Arkansas. Tulsa will expect nothing less than a competitive game
against the Sooners.
3.RUNNING DUO: Senior running backs Trey Watts and Ja’Terian
Douglas have combined to rush for 4,340 yards in their three
seasons together, and the duo is expected to provide Tulsa’s air
attack plenty of support this season. Watts, the son of former
Oklahoma quarterback J.C. Watts, was the Most Valuable Player of
the Liberty Bowl last year – capping a season in which the former
walk-on rushed for 1,108 yards. Douglas added 936 yards rushing at
a clip of 6.8 yards per carry, and he can’t wait to show how much
he and Watts have improved. ”We’re always the underdogs, and that
just makes us hungrier,” Douglas said. ”There’s something great
about being the underdog and just seeing the faces of the doubters
when you prove them wrong.”
4.LEAGUE POWER: Last season’s Conference USA championship was
the second overall for Tulsa, which also won the league in 2005.
The Golden Hurricane has a 47-14 record in nine seasons in the
conference, and it was won four West Division titles.
5.NATIONAL EXPOSURE: Tulsa was 11-3 last season, just the second
11-win season in school history. Watts has even higher goals in
mind for this season – and more to prove. ”We want to take it up a
notch,” Watts said. ”There’s always more to work on.”
Predicted finish in the C-USA West: First.