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2021 Tulsa Golden Hurricane: Can They Fill Two Key Spots?
Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

2021 Tulsa Golden Hurricane: Can They Fill Two Key Spots?

The Golden Hurricane came within 14 points of having an undefeated season in 2020 with three losses against Big-12 power Oklahoma State, AAC-Champ Cincinnati, and SEC team Mississippi State. They return 18 starters from last year’s 6-3 team. However, they also lost two of the best players to ever play at TU. QB, Zach Smith started every game for the last two years averaging 253 yards per game and will be hard to replace. Maybe, even missed more, will be 1st-round draft choice Zaven Collins who was as good as a linebacker can be. The good news is he his the only starter gone from last year’s defense.

Offense: Davis Brin will be given the first chance at the QB position. He has shown some promise at times and if he can fill the void adequately there are plenty of other weapons around him. Shamari Brooks needs 1,217 yards to become the leading rusher in Tulsa history. However, he is coming off a torn ACL and he missed the 2020 season and all spring. He is supposedly on track to return but that is a wait and see. There are others waiting in the wings including Anthony Watkins and Christian Lovick. There are no worries at wide receiver with Keylon Stokes (159 catches, 2,478 yards, and 12 TDs), JuanCarlos Santana (34 catches 16 yard average per catch), and Sam Crawford Jr. and Josh Johnson. A lot of teams would take this group. And to add to all of this, the offensive line returns intact led by All-AAC first-teamer Tyler Smith.

Defense: All three starters return upfront including All-AAC Jaxon Player. At linebacker, 2nd-teamer Justin Wright along with Trayvon Reeves will be solid.The secondary is loaded with size and experience with four seniors and a junior in the top five. Standouts are safeties, Cristian Williams and TieNeal Martin and corners, Allie Green and Akayleb Evans. This is a serious group.

Non-Conference Schedule:

9/2 UC Davis

9/11 at Oklahoma State

9/18 at Ohio State

9/25 Arkansas State

Obviously, this is a very ambitious and difficult non-con schedule. They should open with a win against UC Davis, followed with back-to-back road games at rival Oklahoma State and national power Ohio State. They usually play the Cowboys tough but rarely win and the Buckeyes ain’t losing to Tulsa in Columbus The game that follows that gauntlet is Arkansas State and that is a dangerous game as the Hurricane could be emotionally flat.

Conference Schedule:

10/1 Houston

10/8 Memphis

10/16 at South Florida

10/29 Navy

11/6 at Cincinnati

11/13 at Tulane

11/20 Temple

11/27 at SMU

The conference schedule has a home schedule that features must wins against Temple and Navy. They need to beat Houston and the Memphis game will be a big game in the AAC. Road games at South Florida and Tulane are games they need to win. They have a decent chance of being 4-0 in the conference when they head to Cincinnati for what could be an early November showdown. The season finale is at SMU and that could be for a shot at the AAC title.

Summary: Tulsa has a bunch of talent and a ton of experience to go along with it. They have to find a quarterback and if they do, they could win this difficult conference. They have to avoid losses against lesser teams that has been a problem in the past. The schedule is pretty tough but this is a team to watch.

Predicted Finish: 3rd Place in the AAC

Overall Record: 8-4

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