MEMPHIS, Tenn. —
Tulsa recorded four sacks in its loss to Iowa State, which yielded only 10 more sacks the rest of the regular season.
“The matchup with our offensive tackles and their defensive ends will be one of the pivotal matchups in determining the outcome of the game,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said.
Tulsa believes it has come a long way since Sept. 1, when it squandered a 16-7 lead over Iowa State.
“It was our first game,” said Tulsa linebacker DeAundre Brown, one of eight seniors on the Golden Hurricane’s first-team defense. “We had to get our bumps and bruises over with. After that, we just became a better team and corrected our mistakes.”
They also became a more run-oriented team. In their loss to Iowa State, the Golden Hurricane attempted 49 passes and 34 rushes. Tulsa has run the ball nearly 60 percent of the time in 12 games since.
Tulsa’s versatile ground attack includes three 700-yard rushers: Trey Watts (161 carries, 959 yards), Ja’Terian Douglas (129 carries, 857 yards) and Alex Singleton (187 carries, 765 yards). Singleton also has run for 21 touchdowns.
They work alongside 6-foot-4, 247-pound quarterback Cody Green, whose size makes him tough to tackle. Green, a Nebraska transfer, went 23 of 49 for 198 yards with two touchdown passes and a pair of interceptions in Tulsa’s earlier loss to Iowa State.
“Offensively, we know a little more who we are,” Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship said. “We had a new quarterback, three new offensive linemen. On offense (in September), we weren’t sure if we could run block or not. We weren’t sure if we could protect. We weren’t real sure what our personality was going to be like with a new quarterback. We’ve evolved a little more to a run-first team than we were in the first game.”
Tulsa’s defense got a boost from the addition of linebacker Shawn Jackson, a three-year starter who didn’t play against Iowa State in September while serving a three-game suspension.