Tulsa’s brutal early journey ends in Boise

Three games into his head coaching career and Tulsa’s Bill

Blankenship could already write a thesis on adversity.

It has nothing to do with the brutal schedule to begin his first

season as the Golden Hurricanes’ head coach, a stretch that ends

after Saturday night’s game at No. 4 Boise State.

It started with the suspension of Tulsa’s best player, Damaris

Johnson, after he was charged with felony embezzlement, followed by

a litany of key injuries, the latest to starting quarterback G.J.

Kinne.

Oh, and then there was last week’s home-opening loss to No. 7

Oklahoma State – a game that was delayed more than three hours by

weather and didn’t end until 3:35 a.m. local time on Sunday

morning.

”That sounded awful. To have that kind of delay, that would be

tough to go out there and play that late,” Boise State receiver

Tyler Shoemaker said. ”Hopefully we won’t have any issues like

that here and just get a normal game going.”

Normal is about the last thing Tulsa (1-2) has experienced so

far. They are just one of two teams in the country – along with

Arizona – that have to play three AP Top 10 teams in the first four

games.

It started with the season opener at Oklahoma, then last week’s

wackiness against Oklahoma State and concludes with serving as the

Broncos’ home opener.

Asked this week if it’s been difficult staying positive through

the early adversity, Blankenship snapped back that there isn’t

another choice.

”What’s the alternative?” he said. ”Do you want to look in

the past? We believe in it enough to put it in our team room – no

excuses, no explanations, high expectations, perfect execution. We

accomplish those things, we are going to be a great program.”

If Kinne is unable to go, the job will fall to freshman Kalen

Henderson, who led the Hurricanes to 27 points last week against

Oklahoma State, but also threw three interceptions and completed 6

of 20 passes.

What would help is if Tulsa’s run game is just as dynamic as it

was against the Cowboys. Ja’Terian Douglas ran for 173 yards and

two touchdowns, while Trey Watts added another 163 yards on 23

carries.

”I like their offense. They’re creative, they can run the ball,

they spread you out, they throw it. They do it all. They can do

whatever they need to do,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said.

”I think always dear to our heart is someone who can run the ball

and to run for that many yards that late into the night, that’s

pretty impressive.”

But while Tulsa’s got questions, the Broncos are ready to

showoff at home.

For the second straight season, Boise State is one of the final

teams in the country to play its home opener. They’ll be greeted by

a sellout ready to show admiration for Boise State’s impressive

season-opening 35-21 win over Georgia in Atlanta, followed by last

week’s 40-15 dismantling of Toledo where quarterback Kellen Moore

completed a career-high 32 passes for 455 yards and five

touchdowns.

While Moore was masterful, all is not perfect for the Broncos.

Petersen admonished his defense this week as needing to play harder

and with more energy. Toledo rolled up nearly 350 total yards on

the Broncos defense after giving up 373 yards to Georgia in the

opener.

Last season, the Broncos defense allowed just 300 total yards

only three times.

”That is something you can practice. That comes back to the

fundamentals of wrapping up and sticking your face in the guy and

running to the ball as a unit,” defensive tackle Billy Wynn said.

”Instead of two or three guys running to the ball, if you can get

nine or 10 guys to the ball, it really limits those missed

tackles.”

The Broncos would also like to see more from running back Doug

Martin and the ground game as a whole. While Martin finished with

192 total yards from scrimmage, only 70 came on the ground. And

that followed up running for just 57 yards in the opener against

Georgia.

A sidenote to Saturday’s game: fashion. This will be one of two

home games this season where the Broncos will be allowed to wear

their traditional all-blue lineup – helmet, jersey and pants. As

part of joining the Mountain West this season, the Broncos were

told they would not be allowed to wear all-blue during conference

home games.

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