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12 Up, 12 Down: Tulsa Golden Hurricane

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No. 23 USF heads back on the road tonight to battle cross-division foe Tulsa.

Tulsa v Houston Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Opponent: Tulsa Golden Hurricane

2018 Record: 1-4, 0-2 AAC

Head Coach: Phillip Montgomery, Fourth Season

Date/Time/Location: Friday, October 12 at 7:00 p.m., Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, OK

How To Watch/Listen: ESPN (AT THE DAILY STAMPEDE WATCH PARTY), 820 AM, Bulls Unlimited, iHeartRadio

Series History: USF leads 2-0. USF beat Tulsa 27-20 last year on Senior Night in one of the ugliest games of the entire season.

The Golden Hurricane are doing a blackout for tonight’s matchup btw.

Background

Operating on a short week after defeating UMass 58-42 last Saturday, USF heads back out on the road to take on cross-division foe Tulsa.

Coming off a 2-10 campaign in 2017, things haven’t looked much better for head coach Phillip Montgomery and his Golden Hurricane through the first month of this year.

Starting the season off with a 38-27 win over FCS Central Arkansas, Tulsa came up short in games against Texas and Central Arkansas before falling 31-17 in a Thursday nighter at Temple. Then starting quarterback Luke Skipper had five turnovers and was sacked five times in Philadelphia.

Returning from a bye with a new starting QB last Thursday, they led Houston 26-17 early in the fourth before falling completely apart for a 41-26 loss.

Depth Chart

Let’s dig into the stats to see what we can learn about the Golden Hurricane.

S&P+ Breakdown

Team S&P+ (Overall) S&P+ (USF O vs. Tulsa D) S&P+ (USF D vs. Tulsa O) S&P+ ST
Team S&P+ (Overall) S&P+ (USF O vs. Tulsa D) S&P+ (USF D vs. Tulsa O) S&P+ ST
USF 27 31 42 101
Tulsa 93 63 107 71

S&P+ has Tulsa pegged as a below average team at 93 and surprisingly, it’s the offense that’s dragging them down this year.

UT is only averaging 24.4 points on 4.8 yards per play this season. Not an effective use of the veer and shoot that both Montgomery and former Tulsa OC turned USF OC Sterlin Gilbert adheres to. We’ll see if that changes with a QB change.

Their offense also ranks 119th in havoc rate allowed.

They do have a weapon on special teams in punter Thomas Bennett, who consistently flips the field by averaging 48.2 yards per punt.

When Tulsa Runs...

Team Rushing Efficiency Run Explosiveness Opportunity Rate Stuff Rate
Team Rushing Efficiency Run Explosiveness Opportunity Rate Stuff Rate
Tulsa Offense 51 99 67 12
USF Defense 75 45 91 51

The Golden Hurricane lost the school’s all-time leading rusher D’Angelo Brewer to graduation last year, so picking up the slack on the ground this year has been sophomores Corey Taylor II and Shamari Brooks.

The duo has combined for 786 yards and eight touchdowns this season, but are only averaging 4.3 yards per rush.

They do have veterans on the offensive line creating holes for them with left guard Tyler Bowling, center Chandler Miller, and right tackle each clocking in over 30 career starts. Bowling was a preaseason Outland Trophy watch lister while Miller made the watch list for both the Outland and Rimington.

When Tulsa Passes...

Team Pass Efficiency Pass Explosiveness Pass Completion Rate Sack Rate
Team Pass Efficiency Pass Explosiveness Pass Completion Rate Sack Rate
Tulsa Offense 122 97 105 123
USF Defense 32 14 30 18

As mentioned before, Luke Skipper was benched during their bye week and replaced with redshirt freshman QB Seth Boomer.

The Collinsville, OK, native went 13-of-31 passing for 227 yards, one touchdown, and one fourth quarter interception in his debut at Houston last week.

If he falters in tonight’s game, Montgomery always has Skipper or former starter Chad President to turn back to.

Boomer has a pretty decent arsenal of weapons to throw to in second team all-conference wideout Justin Hobbs, Keenen Johnson, Keylon Stokes and Jarion Anderson, all of whom have been targeted at least 20 times this season. Senior tight end Cole Neph also has two touchdowns this season.

On the flip side, the USF secondary did its job defending the pass on standard passing downs (2nd and 8/3rd and 5/4th and 5 or more) versus UMass last week. During those plays, the Minutemen went 6-of-11 for only 47 yards and an interception (Mike Hampton).

Tulsa’s offense has been #bad on passing downs so it would play in the Bulls’ favor to get them behind schedule.

When USF Runs...

Team Rushing Efficiency Run Explosiveness Opportunity Rate Stuff Rate
Team Rushing Efficiency Run Explosiveness Opportunity Rate Stuff Rate
USF Offense 54 12 46 61
Tulsa Defense 89 82 89 88

CRRRRROOOOOONNNNKKKKKKK

After days of extensive research, I can confirm that 300+ yard rushing performances are, in fact, good.

Jordan Cronkrite is averaging 8.8. yards per carry right now, which is somehow being dwarfed by the ridiculous season that Memphis’ Darrell Henderson is having.

It’s imperative that he stay healthy, however, with freshman Johnny Ford and Trevon Sands being the only other reliable options in the backfield right now. Elijah Mack and Duran Bell are still out with injury.

On the other side, Tulsa’s run stoppers have yet to make a significant impact, ranking 104th in defensive line havoc rate.

Junior linebacker Cooper Edmiston has been their most reliable player on defense, leading the team with 32 tackles, four run stuffs, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.

When USF Passes...

Team Passing Efficiency Passing Explosiveness Passing Completion Rate Sack Rate
Team Passing Efficiency Passing Explosiveness Passing Completion Rate Sack Rate
USF Offense 15 69 (nice) 39 95
Tulsa Defense 82 35 108 122

Suspect pass protection reared its ugly head again at UMass last week, but Blake Barnett still managed a decent showing by going 17-of-24 yards for 209 yards, one touchdown, and one pick.

Lost in Cronkrite’s record-breaking day on the ground and the special teams turnovers was Air BnB going a perfect 7-of-7 passing for 70 yards in the second half.

Darnell Salomon didn’t make the trip up to Amherst last week, allowing for Ryeshene Bronson and Stanley Clerveaux to get some run. We’ll see if the junior from Miami made the trip tonight to re-join Tyre McCants and Randall St. Felix, both of whom having 300 yards receiving this season.

What Tulsa’s secondary has going for it is that it’s limiting explosive passes with its 35th ranking per S&P+.

Watch for safeties McKinley Whitfield and Manny Bunch, both of whom have combined for 43 tackles and six pass breakups this year.

Prediction

S&P+ has USF as a 13 point favorite here with a 77% win probability.

But here’s some of the factors to consider that could make things weird:

-Friday night road game against a home team desperate to turn its season around.

-Short week of practice

-Former backup quarterback without a lot of film making his second start.

-TURNOVER HURRICANE EYE

All of those things could play into Tulsa’s favor early, but I see USF’s defense rattling Boomer down the stretch and exploiting the Golden Hurricane’s penchant for giving up havoc plays.

USF wins 35-24