TULSA, Okla. (AP) First-year coach Philip Montgomery has brought his offensive philosophy from Baylor to Tulsa, and already, changes are evident for the Golden Hurricane.
Montgomery hopes these changes will equate to a change in fortune for a program with just five victories in the past two seasons.
If last spring and the opening few days of fall camp are any indications, Montgomery – who comes to Tulsa after spending the last seven years on the staff at Baylor – sees his squad as progressing in what will be the school’s second year in the American Athletic Conference.
”We’ve had to knock off some of the rust from the spring and have done well with that,” the coach said during the team’s media day Tuesday.
”We are pushing consistency with our players. We need to make sure that we have more good plays than bad plays this season.”
In the last two years, though, that hasn’t been the case. The Golden Hurricane have gone 5-19 (2-10 in 2014) and been outscored 836-539.
That two-year swoon came after Tulsa finished 11-3 in 2012, winning the Conference USA championship and defeating Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl.
In hopes of reviving Tulsa’s fortunes, Montgomery brings with him an up-tempo offense that accounted for more than 44 points and 570 yards per contest at Baylor over the past four seasons.
As fall practice unfolds, much of what Montgomery hopes will be a high-octane offense at Tulsa has yet to be implemented.
”Our offense is coming along based on where we left off in the spring,” Montgomery said.
”I would say we have 50 percent of our playbook in.”
The most likely candidate to run the Golden Hurricane offense this season is junior Dane Evans, a two-time letterman who passed for 3,102 yards and 23 touchdowns last year while starting all 12 games.
”It’s a fun offense as a quarterback to be a part of,” Evans said.
”Besides the tempo, I think people will see a lot more deep balls thrown than a year ago. I think the offense will be as fun to watch as it is to play in.”
Key targets for Evans’ passes this season will be two wide receivers – senior Keyarris Garrett and junior Keevan Lucas.
The duo has combined for 3,282 yards and 26 touchdowns in their careers, with Lucas compiling team bests of 1,219 receiving yards, 11 touchdowns and 101 receptions a year ago.
”These guys have a chance to be very special players, not just for us, but at the next level,” Montgomery said.
Defensively, Tulsa returns 27 lettermen, including six starters, from last year.
Helping anchor the defensive front of the Golden Hurricane’s 4-3 alignment is senior end Derrick Alexander, who earned second team all-conference honors last season. Alexander amassed 42 tackles, including 12 for losses.
”The guys on defense are in the right character and are showing a lot of new energy,” Alexander said.
Helping direct the Tulsa defense is Bill Young, co-coordinator and defensive line coach, who has been a defensive coordinator at Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC, Miami (Fla.) and Oklahoma State.
This is Young’s second stint as an assistant with the Golden Hurricane, having served from 1980-84 under head coach John Cooper.
Young will hope to see Tulsa’s defense improve after surrendering 486.8 yards in total offense per game last year.
Tulsa was picked to finish last in the West Division of the conference’s preseason media poll. It the season at home against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 5. The Golden Hurricane’s non-conference schedule also includes matchups against New Mexico, Oklahoma and Louisiana-Monroe.