San Jose State at Tulsa
Saturday, 4 pm PT - CBSC
CRIS Opener: Tulsa -6 O/U 63.5
CRIS Current: Tulsa -5 O/U 70
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane enter the second year of the Philip Montgomery regime and I think this team is poised for improvement following a 6-7 campaign. This program was a disaster area during Bill Blankenship’s tenure but Montgomery, in just his first year on the job, took the team from 2-10 to a bowl game berth. Senior quarterback Dane Evans is back to lead what should be a very good offense. Evans posted a 63% completion rate with 25 TDs and just 8 INTs and should be even better in 2016. The offensive line has four returning starters and they have plenty of playmakers at the skill positions to put up points in bunches. Tulsa is in need of improvement on defense which was their biggest issue last season. They return seven starters including four of their top five tacklers. The Golden Hurricane will no doubt be better against the run after getting carved up for 240 ypg. The d-line returns three starters and everyone starting along that unit is either a junior or senior. The linebacker corps has increased depth and experience and the secondary has six of its top eight returning.
San Jose State comes off a 5-7 season as they enter their fourth with Ron Carragher as head coach. They should have a competitive outfit in the Mountain West but I do have some concerns as they play their first game of the season on the road. I normally don’t overreact to running back departures but the loss of Tyler Ervin from last year’s squad is a big one. He was everything to the San Jose State offense and broke the school’s single season rushing record. Also note the ineligibility of senior receiver Tyler Winston due to academic reasons. Both players had a huge impact on the offense. Quarterback Kenny Potter looks to be a solid one and has dual threat capabilities but the defense could be an early season concern for the Spartans. They break in a new DC in former Eastern Michigan head coach Ron English. Even though the system is expected to remain largely unchanged (4-3 defensive scheme), there still could be a bit of an early season learning curve for that group. San Jose State looks weakest in the secondary and that is not where you want to be weak going up against Dane Evans and a strong Tulsa aerial attack. San Jose State lost a pair of their best corners from last season’s second ranked pass defense with Cleveland Wallace and Jimmy Pruitt departing. San Jose State started slowly last season and dropped each of their two September road games against Air Force and Oregon State; losing by 14+ points in both games. This is a reasonable price to lay with Tulsa (from the superior conference) at less than a touchdown at home.