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TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE 2009 PREVIEW


damarisjohnsonEven with the loss of some key players, and, the loss of a renowned offensive coordinator from the nation’s top offense of 2008, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane will still be loaded with skill-position talent…enough to make a lot of fantasy owners quite happy.

With returning players like WR-KR Damaris Johnson (photo thanks NTDaily/Jonny Carroll), the Golden Hurricane appear again to make their claim as the nation’s most prolific offense.  Get ready for another wild season of pass-catching RBs, WRs acting like RBs, and QBs doing everything else

STRENGTHS

Most programs would panic if they lost QBs like Paul Smith and David Johnson in back-to-back seasons (over 9100 yards and 93 TDs passing the past two season), but no need to fret at Tulsa…they are loaded with talent at the QB position.  Jacob Bower is the favorite to start, and is a big QB (240 lbs) who is quite mobile.  G.J. Kinne was the scout team QB last season, after transferring from Texas.  Also, Tulsa brought in top QB recruit Shavodrick Beaver, who initially committed to Michigan. The QB is not 100% settled yet, and, you can be sure that the QBs who do not start will see some playing time.  Stay tuned to Fantasy College Blitz for updates.

Tulsa does lose 1500+ yards and 15 total TDs from last season’s squad with the departure of Tarrion Adams, but they return Jamad Williams (523 rush, 3 TDs) and Charles Opeseytian (355 rush, 2 TDs) from a Golden Hurricane team that rushed for nearly 270 yards per game in 2008.  Look for their numbers to improve in 2009, especially Williams, who appears to be the top tailback.

But they key in the backfield will be FB Charles Clay, who is more of receiver than a rusher.  Although some thought he slipped a little from his freshman year (where he had over 1000 yards receiving), Clay did have 9 TD catches (11 total TDs) as a sophomore in 2009.  He is the Golden Hurricane’s best fantasy prospect in the backfield.

Losing a WR like Brennan Marion (over 2300 receiving yards, nearly 30 ypc the last two seasons) would be tough for 119 other programs not named Tulsa.  The Golden Hurricane are still quite deep at the position, and sophomore Damaris Johnson was arguably Conference USA’s breakout player in 2008, leading the team in receptions (53) and totalling 743 receiving yards and 10 TDs…while adding 327 yards rushing and 1 rushing TD.   D. Johnson is one of the top kick returner’s in the nation, and this only adds to his fantasy value.   A definite pick for draft day.    Other Tulsa WRs to consider are Slick Shelley (627 receiving yards, 8 TDs), A.J. Whitmore (6 TDs rushing, 2 TDs receiving…and also lines up at QB in the Wildcat formation), and deep threat Trae Johnson (23.8 ypc, 3 TD catches).  Note that Tulsa’s WRs also get handoffs on rushing plays, especially Damaris Johnson and Whitmore, which makes their fantasy value higher.

Kevin Fitzpatrick appears to be the new placekicker, having seen action last season mostly on kickoffs.  In this high-scoring offense Fitzpatrick is a kicker worth taking on draft day….at least one of the first considered for free agency/supplemental drafts.

Although co-offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has left for the same position at Auburn, Herb Hand, the other co-OC, is still around…and has worked with head coach Todd Graham while at Rice also….so there will be no loss of offensive production.

WEAKNESSES

The Golden Hurricane return only two regular starting offensive linemen, but do return true-sophomorestarter  LT Tyler Holmes.  The offense may be affected early in the season (but not too much) as new starters get used to their roles.

The Tulsa defense will be improved compared to 2008, but with a number of games scheduled vs some of the nation’s top offenses, there is no fantasy value on the defensive side of the ball.

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART (Starter in CAPS)

QB:   JACOB BOWER, G.J. Kinne, Shavodrick Beaver

RB:   JAMAD WILLIAMS, Charles Opeseytian

FB:   CHARLES CLAY, Willie Carter

TE:   JAKE COLLUMS, Clay Sears

WR:   DAMARIS JOHNSON, SLICK SHELLEY, TRAE JOHNSON, A.J. Whitmore, Jesse Meyer, Justin Smith, Chris Ford

PK:   KEVIN FITZPATRICK, Cory Jefferis

SCHEDULE

Not easy….but not enough to really thwart the offense.  Non-conference games at Oklahoma, and, a home game vs Boise State, will be tough….but the Golden Hurricane will get their yards.  Outside of a home game vs East Carolina in November, there is not a CUSA team that will even remotely slow-down this offense.  Note that Tulsa will have a number of games not on a Saturday….pay attention when completing your lineups

09/04   @Tulane (Fri)

09/12   @New Mexico

09/19   @Oklahoma

09/26   SAM HOUSTON STATE

10/03   @Rice

10/14   BOISE STATE (Wed)

10/21   @UTEP (Wed)

10/31   SMU

11/07   HOUSTON

11/15   EAST CAROLINA (Sun)

11/21   @Southern Miss

11/27   MEMPHIS (Fri)

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