Who has the edge? Tulsa Edition
LARAMIE -- People like to say that the game of football is
not played on paper.
They are right. But it’s still fun to look.
Today, we will breakdown the offenses of the Tulsa Golden
Hurricane and Wyoming Cowboys. The two squads will meet Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
at Skelly Field at H. A. Chapman Stadium.
So, who has the edge on offense?
Let’s break it down real quick.
For the first hour and a half last Saturday afternoon, Tulsa stood toe-to-toe with in-state foe Oklahoma State. The Cowboys jumped out to a quick 17-0 lead, and behind the arm of Zach Smith, Tulsa battled back, taking a 21-20 lead into the half. Smith, a Baylor transfer, connected on 17-of-30 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown. Smith has thrown for 664 yards this season to go along with three touchdown passes and an interception. Back-up Seth Boomer has seen some playing time, too. The sophomore was just 2-for-5 for 10 yards in the 40-21 loss to OSU. Neither quarterback features much mobility, combining for minus-17 yards on seven carries last week.
Sean Chambers has had a rough start to his redshirt freshman season. With his arm anyway. The big gunslinger from California has completed just 18-of-46 passes for 245 yards and a pick. Chambers has yet to show the ability to stand in the pocket and throw the ball down field. The Cowboys feature the 128th-ranked passing attack in the nation out of 130 FBS teams. That isn’t good. And it certainly isn’t all on Chambers. Craig Bohl said getting this passing game in sync would be a major emphasis this week in practice. He said the same thing last week – minus the “major” part – before Chambers went out and completed just 4-of-12 passes for 50 yards in a 21-16 home victory over Idaho. When Chambers tucks and runs, he is one of the most dangerous players on either roster. He has carried the ball 31 times this season for 196 yards and two scores. We have said it time and again, Chambers hasn't lost a start yet. That's 6-0 overall. Can he keep it up?
Shamari Brooks scored the 20th rushing touchdown of his Tulsa career against OSU, tying him for 10th all-time in program history. He also eclipsed the century mark with 107 yards on 29 carries. He found the end zone twice last Saturday. A week prior, Brooks took 29 handoffs and rushed for 140 yards against San Jose State. He was quoted before the opener at Michigan State as saying he could run for 200 yards against the Spartans. He tallied zero yards on six carries. Tulsa’s rushing attack is ranked No. 108 in the nation, averaging just 113 yards per game. In relief of Brooks, Corey Taylor II carried the ball 13 times for 43 yards last Saturday.
Wyoming was without leading rusher Xazavian Valladay when the Idaho Vandals paid a visit to War Memorial Stadium. The Cowboys barely skipped a beat, allowing Valladay’s sore ankle to heel an extra week. Trey Smith, a grad transfer from Louisville, rushed for 152 yards on 17 carries. He also broke a 75-yard run in the third to put the Cowboys in the lead for good. True freshman, Titus Swen, carried the ball 14 times for 52 hard-earned yards. He also caught a 22-yard pass out of the backfield. Valladay will be back this week. Look for the Pokes – as usual – to pound the rock and establish the run game early.
WIDE RECEIVERS/ TIGHT ENDS:
Seven different pass catchers snagged 19 balls in the loss to Oklahoma State. Keylon Stokes had a big day for the Golden Hurricane, hauling in seven passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 15.6 yards per grab. Tulsa’s deep threat, Sam Crawford, caught three passes for 55 yards, including a 44 yard pick up. Through three games, Tulsa is averaging 224.7 yards per outing. The wide outs aren’t big in stature, but they are speedy. You can find the girth at tight end where Denzel Carter stands 6-feet, 5-inches and 275 pounds. He caught two passes for just seven yards against the Cowboys.
If you want to get technical, John Okwoli was the only Wyoming receiver to catch an actual pass last Saturday in Laramie. Sure, Dontae Crow was credited with one – if you count a two-yard shovel pass as an actual pass. That one went for minus-1 yard, by the way. Swen caught one big pass and tight end Jackson Marcotte hauled in a toss over the middle for a team-high 23 yards. That was it. Austin Conway was shutout. Raghib Ismail, though he did score on an end-around play, did not catch a pass, either. Gunner Gentry and Ayden Eberhardt were held off the stat sheet, too. Like Chambers, the lack of a passing game doesn’t fall directly on the shoulders of the receiving corps. It’s been collectively bad. You can throw the offensive line in there, too, according to Bohl. He calls it a “perfect storm.” Hopefully the cloud break and the sun shines in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma State got to Tulsa quarterbacks three times and finished the day with eight tackles for loss. Despite scoring 21 points in the first half, the Golden Hurricane was shutout in the second. The Cowboys held Tulsa to just 138 yards of offense over the final 30 minutes. Tulsa was just 10-of-22 on third down and failed to convert a pair of fourth-down attempts. The Golden Hurricane rushing attack averaged just 3.0 yards per carry. Tulsa returns just two starters on the line from a season ago in left guard, Chris Paul, and left tackle, Chris Ivy.
For the first time in three games, Bohl pointed out the Wyoming offensive line as one of the units that struggled in the win over Idaho. They gave up one sack, and Chambers was pressured throughout the afternoon. Keegan Cryder, Wyoming’s freshman All-American center, maybe made the play of the game against the Vandals, hammering his man, before peeling back and taking out a linebacker on Smith’s 75-yard dash to the end zone. The Cowboys did rush for 237 yards and average 5.0 yards per carry against an undersized Vandals front four. Tulsa runs a three-man front, a lot like Texas State. Wyoming’s line struggled to open holes for much of the night in San Marcos but did just enough to come away with the win. Tulsa is experienced up front and at the linebacker position. Unless the Cowboys can balance their offensive attack, look forward to seeing eight – sometimes even nine – players in the box, waiting on Valladay, Swen, Smith and Chambers.