Know Wyoming’s foe: Tulsa Golden Hurricane
LARAMIE -- Tulsa runs the spread offense, but don't think for a second that head coach Philip Montgomery doesn't value the running game.
Last fall, the Golden Hurricane, led by Shamari Brooks, nearly amassed 2,500 rushing yards and found the end zone 20 times on the ground. That took 549 carries.
Brooks is gone, along with his team-leading 1,029 yards and seven touchdowns.
Tulsa has reserves. Big ones.
According to the team's official two-deep, starting running back Steven Anderson tips the scales at 269 pounds. No, that is not a typo. The 6-foot-2 Southern Miss transfer carried the ball 45 times last fall for 219 yards. Deneric Prince will serve as TU's change-of-pace back. He finished 2021 with 100 carries and 524 rushing yards. He scored five touchdowns.
MORE UW FOOTBALL NEWS:
* Show us your picks: Week One
* Golden Hurricane will blow into Laramie Saturday
* Wyoming Football: News and notes ahead of Tulsa
* Don't pin Pokes' passing woes strictly on Andrew Peasley
The visitors will throw the ball around the yard, too.
Davis Brin will be under center for the second-consecutive season. Last year, all 410 attempts came from his right arm. The senior completed nearly 60% of his passes while throwing for 3,254 yards and 18 touchdowns. The downside, he also threw it to the other team 16 times. Brin was sacked 25 times and rushed for just 75 yards on 68 attempts.
JuanCarlos Santana is his favorite returning target after hauling in 50 balls for 674 yards. He found the end zone three times. Keylon Stokes is another guy who has caught the attention of Wyoming defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel. TU's slot receiver snagged just 11 passes for 114 yards during an injury plagued '21 campaign.
You might recall the name though.
In the last meeting between these two programs in 2019, Stokes finished with four catches for 93 yards. That included a 56-yard touchdown grab. The senior from Manvel High -- the same school that produced UW players Jordon Vaughn and Keelan Cox -- is third in total yards in TU history.
Here are some other things you need to know about Wyoming's Week-One foe:
* Head coach: Philip Montgomery (8th year at Tulsa) 38-46 overall record
* Offensive coordinator: Calvin Lowry (8th year) and Beau Trahan (7th year); Defensive coordinator: Luke Olson (11th year, first as DC)
* Record in 2021: 7-6 overall, 5-3
* Offense: Averaged 26.4 ppg, 443 ypg (192 rush, 251 pass)
* Defense: Allowed 26.6 ppg, 370 ypg (142 rush, 228 pass)
* Returners: 6 offense, 6 defense
* Key Returners - Offense: Davis Brin (QB - 243-410, 3,254, 18 TD, 16 INT), Deneric Prince (RB - 524 yards, 5 TD), JuanCarlos Santana (WR - 674 yards, 3 TD), Keylon Stokes (WR - 114 yards), Ethan Hall (TE - 63 yards, TD), Gerard Wheeler (LG)
* Key Returners - Defense: Justin Wright (LB - 82 tackles, 3.5 sacks, INT, FF, TD), Tyon Davis (CB - 74 tackles, FF), Bryson Powers (N - 42 tackles, INT, FF), Kendarin Ray (S - 33 tackles, sack, FF), Grant Sawyer (LB - 29 tackles, Sack, FF), Anthony Goodlow (DE - 28 tackles, 6 sacks)
* Overview: Expect much of what you saw when these teams met inside Skelly Field back in 2019 -- physicality. That September afternoon, numerous players were helped to the sideline after sustaining injuries, including Wyoming's right guard Logan Harris, who suffered a concussion and was taken to a local hospital by ambulance. Tulsa is all about balance. In the previous meeting, Zach Smith attempted 50 passes. Golden Hurricane running backs carried the ball 43 times in the 24-21 victory over the Cowboys. After an early 33-yard touchdown run by Sean Chambers, TU's defense locked down the visitors for much of the afternoon, including forcing six straight three-and-outs. Montgomery's squad had some odd moments in 2021, like dropping its home opener to UC Davis, 19-17. The Golden Hurricane also played in-state rival Oklahoma State to the wire (28-23) and fell to Top-10 Cincinnati, 28-20.
* Thoughts on Tulsa: "(Montgomery's) first couple years were somewhat similar to ours. I mean, there were some bumps and then they've been consistent. Now, they've been winning, and they're going in and winning their bowl games. And so they won their bowl game this last year. And like us, had quite a bit of a change over on the roster. You know, they had a first-round offensive tackle picked by the Cowboys. They've had some other guys that transferred to other schools, and so they have accessed the portal. We have, as well. Coach Montgomery cut his teeth in high school coaching and I know he's striving to build their program through high school recruiting. I don't think you're going to see a major, major departure (from what we do) ... Two similar teams, they're coach and I talked during the course of this summer. We have great respect for Tulsa. I believe they have great respect for Wyoming. You know, we had a donnybrook of a game down there in Tulsa a couple of years ago. We ended up on the short end of the stick, but it was right down to, I think, the last play or two. It will be a physical game. Offensively, they operate out of a spread offense, but that does not mean they're just going to sling it around. They have a balanced offense where they're striving to run it and throw it. I think Brin has done a capable job as a quarterback. And anytime you have a returning quarterback, that certainly does make a difference. They operate out of a three-down front on defense), it's somewhat of an unconventional thing that I'm used to, but, boy, do they play hard and they are physical. They do a great job of keeping the ball contained in front of them and they don't give up a lot of big plays. So that's going to be a real challenge for us."