This week, ahead of the Huskies’ matchup with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, I had a great conversation with Larry Lewis of Inside Tulsa Sports to preview what we can expect from the Golden Hurricane heading into week 2:
1. Let’s start out with a basic one: What is the identity of this football team?
LL- I think the identity of the team is that they are resilient and won’t panic under new coach Kevin Wilson. They been through a coaching change after last season, and a lot of players weren’t heavily recruited or are transfers who did go to bigger schools and are finally getting a chance to play. So they have a chip on their shoulders. Last Thursday, TU turned the ball over on its first three possessions, and lost its starting quarterback to injury. However, TU rallied to a convincing 42-7 victory.
2. For this season, Tulsa hired a new OC, Steve Spurrier Jr. Fans of a certain age may remember the elder Spurrier’s “Fun N’Gun” offenses at Florida and Duke. What is similar in scheme between father and son, and what’s different?
LL- Kevin Wilson says that the offense is not as much Air Raid offense as he was coaching under Mike Leach at Mississippi State last year. Wilson said a lot of offenses, including his own, still run some plays from Sid Gillman’s offense that he was running in the 1940’s and 1950’s. As for Spurrier Jr.’s, father, since Spurrier Jr. coached under his father for a long time, the offenses are going to have a lot of similarities. Wilson describes his offense as a “college run game with some quarterback action. It’s got a little more of a pro style attack with pass protection.”
3. Speaking of new staff: Kevin Wilson, the former OC at Ohio State, is now at the helm of the Golden Hurricane. What do you think of his approach to running things, and how has that influenced the culture of the team?’
LL- Wilson is a no-nonsense, old school guy. He won’t give out false compliments, so when he says he likes what a player is doing, you believe him. He is critical when he needs to be, and give praise when warranted. His background at OC at Ohio State and Oklahoma where he coached quite a few highly ranked QB’s, most recently C.J. Stroud, gets recruits attention.
In his first semester at TU in the spring, he made sure players were going to class, and grade point averages went up substantially at a very challenging university like the University of Tulsa. Things had gotten a little undisciplined before Wilson. The players are buying in. And so are recruits. The early results of recruiting have been extremely positive, ranking Tulsa as high as second in its conference, as opposed to being ranked usually near the bottom of the conference.
4. Quarterback Cardell Williams was remarkably efficient vs Arkansas Pine-Bluff, going 13-14 for 233 yards and 3 scores. What’s your impression of him, being a true freshman with quite a lot of athletic ability?
LL- I was very impressed with Williams. Wilson originally planned to put in Williams after a few series in the game to get him experience, but Braylon Braxton, who finished last season strong, was the clear starter. Braxton was briefly in the transfer portal after Montgomery was fired, but Wilson convinced him to stay. Braxton was getting a lot of interest from quality programs. He’s mobile and can pass. In the first game this year, Braxton threw two early interceptions and injured an ankle, and didn’t return.
Williams was 9 of 9 for 169 yards in the first half. He has a strong arm, and is mobile. I liked what I saw from him when he enrolled early in the spring of 2022 in the Spring Game. Wilson says that Braxton is still the quarterback if he is able to be healthy enough to play. But it could get really interesting to see who is the quarterback. No indication as to whether Braxton will play this week. Since Williams hadn’t taken a college snap before last week, it will be interesting to see how he handles getting pressured.
5. Who do the Dawgs have to watch out for on offense and defense? What are Tulsa’s strengths and weaknesses on both sides of the ball?
LL- Tulsa is going to go with what works. If running is working, TU will run a lot. In Tulsa’s opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Tulsa didn’t have to throw the ball a lot. If running is not working, I expect a lot of passing. Both quarterbacks are good runners. With Tulsa’s receivers and quarterbacks being young and mostly inexperienced, blitzing should probably happen until Tulsa proves it can handle it.
The offensive line is decent, as are the running backs. A guy to watch for on offense could be Braylin Presley, an Oklahoma State transfer. He’s really quick, but small. He didn’t do much in the first game, but maybe because, as the game progressed, they didn’t need him. The coaches are really high on Presley.
I think the defense will be solid, and they play hard. TU has a lot of experienced defensive backs. Owen Ostroski and Ben Kopenski are good defensive ends. Jayden Simon and Julien Simon are brothers from Tacoma’s Lincoln HS. Jayden Simon, a big DT, played for TU last year after transferring from Colorado. Julien Simon is a linebacker who just transferred this spring from USC. They are both starting, and are good players. Still, against an outstanding quarterback like Penix who doesn’t get pressured much, it is going to be tough to get the Huskies off the field.
6. It’s time to give a score prediction, so how do you think this matchup will shake out, and what’s the score going to be?
LL- Penix will likely throw for over 400 yards. Tulsa will likely be okay against the run. Tulsa’s offense will probably get a few big plays, and move the ball at times.
My prediction is Washington 45, Tulsa 14.
Thanks Larry! For my answers to his questions, be sure to check out Inside Tulsa!