TULSA BEGINS PRACTICE ON SATURDAY
Aug. 3, 2013
Tulsa, Ok -
"You can't live on past success, but you can build on past success." -- Bill Blankenship.
The building on that past success continued today as Tulsa began preparations for the 2013 season Saturday morning when the Hurricane went onto the grass of Harwell Field at 8:30 am.
In 2012, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane football team won the Conference USA Championship, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and finished the year with a school record 11 wins and a top-25 national ranking.
Tulsa was hugely successful a year ago, but that success is behind this 2013 edition of the Hurricane.
"There's a great sense of confidence with this team. The successes of the 2012 season have made this group hungrier for more. Success breads success and the guys have gotten a little taste of it, and they understand the commitment it takes to stay on top," said Blankenship.
This season, Tulsa returns most of its offensive firepower that produced over 34 points, 245 rushing yards and 457 yards of total offense in 2012.
"Although, we have a couple of key spots to fill on the offensive line, there's a lot more of a veteran feel to our offense. I really like the skill position players coming back," said Blankenship.
Tulsa's top two leading rushers - Trey Watts and Ja'Terian Douglas - return after combining for 2,044 yards and 10 TDs on the ground. Quarterback Cody Green completed 54-percent of his passes for 2,592 yards and 17 TDs, and threw just 11 interceptions, while Green's top three targets are back. Those three receivers include Keyarris Garrett (845), Jordan James (568) and Thomas Roberson (489).
Whereas eight starters return on offense, just three starters are back on the defensive side of the ball. But two of those starters have been mainstays in the Hurricane defense for the past three seasons.
"We were encouraged with the defense coming out of spring practice as we took significant steps in filling the holes in the starting lineup," said Blankenship.
"We had a very significant group of seniors that helped us play strong defense a year ago. It's a little bit misleading because there's another handful of guys that were either part-time starters or played a lot and those guys return, so it's not like we had to completely rebuild those eight spots," added Blankenship.
The two mainstays back on defense are linebacker Shawn Jackson and safety Demarco Nelson, who each has collected 200+ career tackles. Jackson has 272 and Nelson has 232 stops, while Jackson enters the 2013 season needing two more sacks and three more stops for lost yardage to tie the school records.
"I felt extremely good about the progress of the defense, especially the secondary, which is very athletic and talented," said Blankenship. "The talent level at linebacker looks really good, and I was pleased with our first group of defensive lineman, but we just don't have the depth we need. We expect the some of our newcomers will challenge for playing time on the defensive line."
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