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September 7, 2011

Moving Forward

After the season-opening loss at Oklahoma, the University of Tulsa now moves on to an important conference game at Tulane. Hurricane coaches broke down film from the loss to the Sooners and identified the areas to correct, while also finding a number of positives.

"We're going to teach and prepare for next week," said TU Head Coach Bill Blankenship. "We came in to evaluate and it's always interesting to watch the film because sometimes you get a little different view from what you might have gotten as the game went on. We were able to identify some positives and tried to identify some of the weaknesses or negatives. We're working to try to correct those.

"I feel like there is a lot we can build on and expand. Some of the things we didn't do well on, we need to eliminate and make a change. We are already teaching and preparing for Tulane."

Tulsa struggled to sustain drives in the first half against Oklahoma, and the Hurricane defense gave up over 600 yards to the nation's No. 1 team. But it wasn't all bad, and the experience should pay dividends down the road.

"After evaluation, offensively I felt really good about our offensive line," said Blankenship. "I thought they performed as a unit very well against a very strong defense. Specifically, there are some known factors in Tyler Holmes and Clint Anderson. Trent Dupy, I thought, played very well, as did all the other guys. I thought we had a really solid performance by our offensive line."

Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne was under quite a bit of pressure most of the evening, but he kept his composure and threw for 271 yards and two scores.

"I felt really good about G.J.'s performance and execution," Blankenship explained. "The thing I was most encouraged about G.J. was he did a good job of playing the game with emotional control in a very tough environment. He executed very well and graded out very well. He avoided sacks by throwing the ball away. Even his one interception was a throw that could have been caught. I thought he was smart with the football."

The Golden Hurricane had a tough time running the ball against the big, physical Oklahoma defensive front, but still performed admirably with 4.2 yards per rush, and the running backs and H-back had a big role in the passing game.

"Trey Watts performed really well for us," Blankenship described. "A lot of things that Trey does for us is unseen and not with the ball. He does a great job with the ball as well.

"Willie Carter is a big-play guy and we knew that going in. We want to continue to find ways to get him the ball. Those are things we know we have to build on offensively and have to do a good job of building on it."

Defensively, Tulsa's performance looks dreadful on paper, but Coach Blankenship says the film shows otherwise.

"When you give up the points we gave up and the yardage we gave up, it's easy to think it was a really poor performance, but I disagree," he said. "Overall, our defense played very well. I think we wore down in the third quarter on. We had 59 snaps before halftime on defense. You have to give Oklahoma a lot of credit. They pressed the issue and did a good job controlling the football.

"If you look at both offense and defense in terms of execution, I think the game comes down to we didn't win third down. We didn't win third down on the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side of the ball. We played really good football defensively, but we didn't win on third down."

Oklahoma converted 11-of-19 third-down opportunities to keep drives alive, while Tulsa was only able to make good on 5-of-14 third-down attempts.

"Two things happen," Blankenship noted. "We didn't stay on the field long offensively and we couldn't get off the field on defense. Consequently, when you look at the stat line, it was 100 plays they ran against our defense, and we ran 64. I don't make a lot about stats, but when you look at the yardage per play, we had 6.2 yards per play and they had 6.6. There's not a lot of difference per play.

"The difference was they stayed on the field and had 36 more snaps than we did and that turns into a huge margin over time. That's exactly why people want to control the ball and control the tempo of the game."

Tulsa will attempt to turn the tables this weekend and control the ball -- and the game -- against Tulane.



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