In the 100 days leading up to the kickoff of the college football season on Saturday, Aug. 25, HERO Sports is ranking the top 100 teams in the FBS. Each day, starting May 17 and ending Aug. 24, a new team is revealed in the HERO Sports Top 100.
[divider]RANKINGS: Top 100 FBS Teams for 2018
TRIVIA: Daily CFB Trivia Question
MORE: Best FBS Player for Each Jersey Number
MORE: Best FCS Player for Each Jersey Number[divider]
No. 97 Tulsa
I debated leaving Tulsa outside the Top 100 after the Golden Hurricane made me look like an idiot for ranking them 56th in my 2017 preseason rankings. Despite a miserable two-win season, they come in at No. 97 this year thanks to key returning pieces on offense, including a stud running back and an experienced, above-average offensive line.
2017 Record: 2-10 (1-7, American)
Your 2017 Tulsa recap, presented by Mike Donnelly:
Head Coach: Philip Montgomery (4th Year, 18-20)
Last July, I speculated that Philip Montgomery "appears on the verge of fielding big-time offers" and he could be a candidate at Ole Miss following Hugh Freeze's resignation.
While Montgomery is still dripping with Power Five potential, last year's two-win dud — which followed six and 10 wins in 2015 and 2016, respectively — was a major setback for him professionally and the program.
“I like the personality of our football team right now,” he said this spring. “I think our leadership has been really good all winter long. … Right now I feel like we have an intent about what we’re doing. I think our team is very hungry to prove who they are and what they want to be.”
RB D'Angelo Brewer, OT Evan Plagg, OL Zac Uhles, DE Jeremy Smith, DE Jesse Brubaker, LB Craig Suits, CB Kerwin Thomas, K Redford Jones
D'Angelo Brewer was just as good in 2017 as he was in 2016 but when your team loses 10 games, few people notice a 1,500-yard season. Jeremy Smith was the only guy who could rush the passer. The Tulsa native had more than half their sacks and finished his career with 15.5 sacks.
Elsewhere, linebacker Craig Suits is gone after a strong, disruptive senior season, as is kicker Redford Jones. Jones hit 98 percent of his PATs and 75 percent of his field-goal attempts in three years.
Returning Offensive Players
QB Chad President, QB Luke Skipper, RB Shamari Brooks, WR Justin Hobbs, WR Keenen Johnson, OT Willie Wright, G Tyler Bowling, C Chandler Miller
You don't see this often: Tulsa's total passing touchdowns (six) were fewer than their yards per attempt (7.1).
Chad President, a former four-star recruit and Baylor commit, was benched in mid-October and attempted just 31 passes the remainder of the season. He suffered a knee injury in the season finale and was sidelined all spring. His replacement, Luke Skipper (below), was technically better but still not great. He threw off his back foot and escaped clean pockets too often. Skipper is competing with redshirt freshman Seth Boomer for the starting job.
The winner gets a receiving corps that could be the strength of the team. Hobbs, Johnson and Stewart combined for 112 receptions and produced big plays, particularly Hobbs, who averaged more than 15 yards per reception. The catch rates, however, were miserable: Johnson (60 percent), Hobbs (53) and Stewart (43).
D'Angelo Brewer and his 3,917 career rushing yards are gone but Shamari Brooks is back and will have a monster year. He averaged nearly six yards per carry as a freshman and scored a touchdown every 12 carries before missing the final three games with a broken collarbone.
“He plays the way we want," Montgomery said after Brooks ran for 96 yards on 10 carries in the spring game. "He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He runs angry. He's got some moves to him."
Blocking for Brooks will be three longtime starters in Wright, Bowling and Miller but those three — and the entire unit — need more consistency against good pass-rushers.
Returning Defensive Players
DT Garrett Flanary, DT Myles Mouton, LB Cooper Edmiston, LB Diamon Cannon, CB Reggie Robinson III, CB Keanu Hill, S McKinley Whitfield, S Jordan Mitchell, S Manny Bunch
Yes, the defense was hurt by injuries but they were still dreadful.
The good news is that a lot of young guys got experience and they can't possibly be as bad as they were in 2017, when they allowed opposing quarterbacks to do anything.
You won't find a more optimistic guy in America about Tulsa's secondary than yours truly. They're enormous (all five guys listed above are at least 6-foot-1, including the 6-foot-3, 217-pound Whitfield), can exert their will on smaller receivers and can go sideline to sideline. Key word: Can. They can do a lot of things very well but too often seem lost in Bill Young's system.
Who's bringing pressure? They had 11 sacks last season. Total. They had 11 sacks in 12 games. Garrett Flanary is the only returning player who had a sack. And he had one. Linebacker Cooper Edmiston ranked second behind Whitfield in tackles last year but he better lead them this year. If Whitfield is making 100-plus tackles again, something is wrong.
QB Seth Boomer, WR Sam Crawford Jr., LB TieNeal Martin
Seth Boomer, thankfully called "Boom" by players and coaches, is a redshirt freshman who shared reps with Skipper in spring ball and from all indications has a legitimate shot at the job in fall camp. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder is from nearby Collinsville and accepted his lone FBS offer.
Crawford is a 6-foot-1, 205-pound redshirt freshman from Rockwall, Texas, who connected with Boomer on a gorgeous touchdown in the spring game. And TieNeal Martin is one of seven JUCO transfers on defense, all of whom should see immediate playing time.
Tulsa has an interesting 2017 slate.
They play three straight non-Saturday games in the middle of the season and play four of six games on the road from early September through mid-October. Can they win a road game?
|Saturday, Sept. 1||vs. Central Arkansas|
|Saturday, Sept. 8||at Texas|
|Saturday, Sept. 15||vs. Arkansas State|
|Thursday, Sept. 20||at Temple|
|Thursday, Oct. 4||at Houston|
|Friday, Oct. 12||vs. USF|
|Saturday, Oct. 20||at Arkansas|
|Saturday, Oct. 27||vs. Tulane|
|Saturday, Nov. 3||vs. UConn|
|Saturday, Nov. 10||at Memphis|
|Saturday, Nov. 17||at Navy|
|Saturday, Nov. 24||vs. SMU|