The Tulsa Golden Hurricane will likely be the favorites to win the Conference USA title next season. Although it isn’t the strongest conference in the nation, the Golden Hurricane are slowly, but surely, putting it on the map with their stellar play.
Losing two of their top players from a season ago in leading tackler DeAundre Brown and leading scorer Alex Singleton will be a big blow to this veteran team. Returning most of their offensive threats, however, will make them one of the most fun teams to watch in college football.
Head coach Bill Blankenship has certainly risen in the ranks of the college coaching world. As a high school head coach just eight years ago, he now finds himself as the head coach of a up-and-coming Division I program.
Let’s see how the Golden Hurricane stack up against the competition in 2013.
The offense is returning many key players. Starting quarterback and Nebraska Cornhuskers transfer Cody Green has become a serious threat to defenses after finding himself as a backup in his first two seasons at Nebraska. He will be back to lead the offense and improve on his dual-threat numbers.
Running back duo Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas have become one of the best one-two combinations in the nation. Combining for 2,044 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns last season, the senior duo have worked together perfectly. Watts is also a valuable kick and punt returner, earning a touchdown in each category last season.
Wide receivers also won’t be a position of need as Tulsa will be returning their top two wideouts. Keyarris Garrett and Jordan James will give Green some support with reliable hands and experience.
The offense will not be a problem with this team. Returning the starting quarterback, top two running backs and top two receivers from a year ago, this offense is in great shape.
Their ninth-place ranking in rushing yards in the entire country in 2012 will likely remain the same, even without Singleton in 2013. The passing game will likely improve from its 84th national rank with just 211 passing yards per game. Green has one more year of experience under his belt and he will likely rely heavily his top two returning wideouts.
Defense is the real question mark coming into the 2013 season. The Golden Hurricane are returning two key defensive players that will surely help them get back to their 35th national defensive rank from a season ago.
Safety Marco Nelson has been plagued by injuries for the past two seasons, but he has the potential to rack up 80 tackles and a couple interceptions. In 2012, he played in just seven games, accumulating 45 tackles along with two interceptions.
Linebacker Shawn Jackson will likely be the leader on defense, returning as a senior in 2013. He missed the first three games of the 2012 season and still managed to rank third on the team in total tackles with 88, and is fifth on the team with five sacks.
Finishing the 2012 season with an 11-3 record (7-1 conference mark) was just a small sampling of what kind of potential this team really has. They finished the season with an AutoZone Liberty Bowl win over Iowa State.
With an electrifying offense and solid defense, the Golden Hurricane will be back with a vengeance in 2013.
Facing some tough competition in 2013, Tulsa will be fighting hard for their second-straight conference title. Their toughest games of 2013 are: at Oklahoma Sooners, vs. Iowa State Cyclones, at East Carolina Pirates and at Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.
I think they will accomplish their goal and win yet another conference title, finishing with a 9-3 regular season record and looking to earn their second-straight 10-plus win season.
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.