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August 14, 2011

Tulsa football team is making progress

Saturday's scrimmage provided a valuable opportunity for Tulsa football coaches to evaluate their players and figure out where the individuals belong on the depth chart. The first-team offense and defense saw limited action so others would have an opportunity to impress.

"That was one of the needs for our scrimmage was to look at several different chemistry groups, to see how that offensive line group will work," said Head Coach Bill Blankenship. "What we're trying to do is find the best five as a unit. It's not necessarily the best five players, but we're trying to find the group that will work the best.

"Right now, it's really pretty exciting, because Coach (Denver) Johnson feel like he's got 10 or 12 guys that we're not afraid to play. We're just really trying to polish that up and figure out how they work best together and what the rotation is. We may make some changes after today's scrimmage to just try to get the best five out there."

In limited work, the first-string units had solid performances.

"We got in a lot of work, and that's what we look for," said Blankenship. "I'm really pleased with the ones. We had big plays on offense and on defense. It's like I told the staff, the head coach was happy, because good things happened on both sides.

"We still had some bad plays on both sides, and we're trying to correct that, obviously, but I saw some really good things. It's really hard for the guys on offense and defense to balance it. It's easy for the head coach to do it, because I'm looking for us to get good on both sides of the ball."

Blankenship pointed out some of the players that stood out on both sides of the ball.

"It was good to get Damaris (Johnson) open. The defense let him get behind them on a big play," he described. "It was a good running game. I thought Trey Watts looked strong. Zack Langer, as a young freshman running back, looked good.

"I really like the way Tyrunn Walker and Cory Dorris and those guys are getting pressure over on defense. Curnelius (Arnick) is playing very well. The guys that we expect to be playing well played well today. That's what was fun. You got the expected results, but then we found some guys today. I'm anxious to watch film to see if it verifies what we thought we saw."

The defense made some big plays in the scrimmage, coming up with three interceptions, but the unit also gave up some big plays to the offense. Defensive Coordinator Brent Guy says his players will be able to learn quite a bit from the film.

"We started off with an interception. Shawn Jackson made a nice play. G.J. (Kinne) tried to squeeze one in there, and Shawn laid out and made a play to get us started," he explained. "Sometimes the early stuff lulls you to sleep a little bit, and I felt like the second time we came out there with the first group, they had to bow their neck because (the offense) moved it down on us a little bit.

"We've got to learn to always play the next series, no matter what happens, good or bad. Then we give up the big play to Damaris in a coverage where there's no way a vertical route should run through us. We kind of fell asleep a little bit. Those are the kind of things you can't ever let happen. It will be great film to teach from."

The Tulsa defense has made accelerated progress due to facing the fast-paced Tulsa offense.

"We had some guys make some nice plays -- we had two interceptions and had several sacks in that first group," Coach Guy noted. "It's great to work against G.J. and the first offense because those guys are really good at adjusting us, and if we show anything, they're going to pick on us. It's helping us a lot to prepare for that first game.

"We're on schedule against our offense, but we've seen our offense a bunch. We're a little bit ahead; we know what's going to go on with those guys. We're always aware of where Damaris is and those types of things. Recognizing what we're practicing against, we're ahead of schedule, but we've seen them a lot."

Tulsa will soon need to solidify its depth chart and start preparing for its season opener against Oklahoma.

"We'll have to really change gears when we start prepping after the next scrimmage and start getting ready for the OU game," Guy added. "That's when everything will change, and we'll have to recognize new people and new sets. With the first group, we're very pleased."



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