The University of Tulsa Head Football Coach Bill Blankenship has announced spring practice dates for the Golden Hurricane football team.
Tulsa will begin 2012 spring drills with seven practice sessions before spring break and eight of the allowed 15 days of spring practice following the week break. The Hurricane will take the field on Tuesday, March 5th for the first time this spring. Tulsa's practice sessions will normally take place Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays during the spring, but one Wednesday practice is scheduled before spring break. Tulsa's final practice before spring break will be on Thursday, March 14th.
After spring break, Tulsa returns to the practice field on Tuesday, March 26th for the first of the final eight practice sessions of the spring season. The Annual Spring Game will take place on Saturday April 6th. Time of the spring game has yet to be determined.
Tulsa will return 11 starters in 2013, including eight on offense and three on defense, from a team that finished the 2012 campaign with an overall 11-3 record, Conference USA Champions and winners of the 54th Annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl with a 31-17 victory over Iowa State.
Tulsa will be looking to fill some holes on the defensive side of the ball, as eight starters have graduated. However, defensive depth was a key component in Tulsa's success during the 2012 campaign with a number of players seeing valuable playing time. Two of Tulsa's top four tacklers, linebacker Shawn Jackson and safety Marco Nelson will lead the Hurricane defense.
"It will be a quick turnaround from when we played in the bowl game, but I believe successful programs sustain success because you've practiced for the Bowl game, and then less than two months later you're in spring drills," said Blankenship. "We'll have to focus on some certain areas of our team. We have a lot of nice returning players, but we have some big holes to fill, especially on defense."
"I do like, however, that we were able to get quite a few of the younger players some valuable playing experience last year and have also been fortunate to red-shirt well the last two signing classes," added Blankenship.
"We lose all four starters on the defensive line and need to find a replacement for our leading tackler and best playmaker, DeAundre Brown, at linebacker, as well as replace three defensive backs," said Blankenship. "On the line, we have depth coming back with Brentom Todd, Derrick Alexander and Derrick Luetjen seeing a lot of playing time in 2012. Shawn Jackson and Trent Martin return as starters, while Mitchell Osborne and DeWitt Jennings saw a lot of action at linebacker too. In the secondary, Michael Mudoh, Luke Snider, Dwight Dobbins and Darrell Williams are guys who played good minutes."
For the offense, the Hurricane returns its' top two rushers, Trey Watts and Ja'Terian Douglas, top passer Cody Green, and top three outside receivers, Keyarris Garrett, Jordan James and Thomas Roberson. Tulsa will once again look to replace three linemen, losing all-Conference USA tackles Jared Grigg and Brian DeShane and four-year starting center Trent Dupy.
"We have to replace the three starters on the offensive line, but in some cases we were able to get a little glimpse and build some depth when we lost Brian DeShane and had to play the Conference Championship game and the bowl game without him. Garrett Stafford did a marvelous job of moving into that role. The offensive front is also another area that we have been able to build depth. We played every game consistently with eight offensive linemen, so five of those guys are back plus a whole bevy of red-shirt guys," said Blankenship.
"It's exciting to have Cody (Green) return at quarterback. Trey (Watts) and J.T. (Douglas) really gives us strength in the backfield and our receiving corps is solid with our starting crew from last year returning" added Blankenship.
"We're excited to get spring drills underway. We'll have a lot of good competition," said Blankenship. "The bulk of our team going into the 2013 season will be set coming out of the spring drills, and then we'd be fortunate to have two or three freshmen make an impact on the two-deep in the fall."
2013 TULSA SPRING PRACTICE SCHEDULE:
6th (Saturday) SPRING GAME