DAY 1 REPORT: Tulsa Kicks Off Camp with Morning Workout
Aug. 2, 2014
Tulsa, Oklahoma -
The University of Tulsa football team kicked off preseason camp with a two-hour practice in shorts and helmets Saturday morning at Harwell Field.
The first day of preseason camp is normally an exciting time for any football coach, but today was a little more special for Tulsa Head Coach Bill Blankenship after not getting much sleep last night.
"This was even more exciting for me," said Blankenship. "Anytime you're trying to flip that calendar and turn the page, it's good. We've been looking forward to this. Our guys were very excited about it and it showed. The energy was really high. When you don't have pads on there's not as much to accomplish in terms of the football side of things, but we got a lot installed on offense and defense and I felt really good about the way the guys responded."
Does the head coach sense a chip on his team's shoulders from last year? "I don't sense it, I know it. These guys are very adamant about changing where we were and getting back to Tulsa football," said Blankenship.
Asked about if his approach from year-to-year changes, Blankenship said "it changes a little bit based on the type of team you have - if you have a lot of returners, or if you don't have as many - we're kind of a middle of the pack team. We're still a young team, but we have a lot more of our players that played last year. We're not going to have as many brand new faces. I thought there was good carryover, so we tried to build on what we did in the spring."
Sophomore quarterback Dane Evans came out of spring ahead at the quarterback position and today came out comfortable and in charge, according to his head coach.
"Dane did really well. We had some turnovers though. You have to give credit to our defensive secondary, I think they had 2-3 turnovers in our 7-on-7 drill, but we do think the strength of our defense may be in our secondary. So that will be a good challenge for the quarterbacks and receivers every day, but I thought the way Dane came out today he was really in charge and very comfortable," Blankenship said.
Senior safety Demarco Nelson, who missed the 2013 season, was back patrolling from his normal free safety position today. Blankenship spoke to how much a difference having the fifth-year senior is for the Golden Hurricane.
"It's night and day with Demarco back. We love all the guys, but when you put Michael (Mudoh) and Demarco back there together, I think they may be the best safety combination we're going to see anywhere," added Blankenship.
"I'll sleep a lot better tonight then I did last night," said Blankenship after the morning practice session.
"I really do get pretty excited about this first practice. For me, it's about making sure we've dotted the eyes, have it all organized and look like a football team, but I also want to see those new faces - guys we haven't seen. Is anyone going to flash out there just in t-shirts and helmets? I was pleased. We had some freshmen skill players that did flash a little bit, so I'm excited to see if they'll carry that over," said Blankenship.
The head coach cited the play of four newcomers - three receivers and one safety.
"Justin Hobbs looked good. It was very noticeable. He made a couple plays. Terrance Ivery made a couple plays, Bishop Louie made a great move on a one-on-one that you went `wow'. I really liked Jordan Dennis on defense. I haven't talked to our coaches, but the way he moved around I know got our defensive coaches' attention," said Blankenship.
Tulsa is back on the field Sunday morning.
Tulsa football season tickets and mini-pack plans, including the Oklahoma, Texas State and East Carolina games, are on sale. Go online at TulsaHurricane.com or contact the Tulsa athletic ticket office at 918.631.GoTU.
The first month of the season Tulsa will play three home games and one on the road. The home games feature Tulane in the season opener and opening game of the American Athletic Conference slate on Aug. 28th, followed a week later with Oklahoma on Sept. 6th and closing out the month against Texas State on Sept. 27th.
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