Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
September 22, 2012
Saturday's game against Fresno State is a big test for Tulsa. Under first-year head coach Tim DeRuyter, the Bulldogs are a vastly different team from last season and are coming off a drubbing of Colorado.
"Fresno State is a very, very good football team," said Tulsa Head Coach Bill Blankenship. "They obviously got everyone's attention with the huge win over Colorado."
Fresno is led by junior quarterback Derek Carr, the younger brother of former Bulldog quarterback David Carr, who now plays for the New York Giants. The younger Carr threw for 300 yards and five scores against Colorado last weekend.
"He is really managing the game very well, throwing at very high percentage, a 70 percent completion rate," said Blankenship.
Tulsa will also face Fresno State's all-time leading rusher in Robbie Rouse, a 5-foot-7 and 190-pound senior.
Coach Blankenship labeled him as a "very compact runner that breaks a lot of tackles."
Fresno has speed at receiver, including Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse, who also returns kicks.
"He is kind of their return guy," Blankenship said of Burse. "He has really been very effective for them. He has broken some big ones and also is one of their favorite receivers."
Tulsa's biggest challenge will come when Fresno State gets into the red zone. The Bulldogs have scored on all 14 opportunities. Luckily for the Golden Hurricane, the TU defense is ranked 14th nationally in red zone defense. The unit will get a boost on Saturday as well with the return of linebacker Shawn Jackson, who sat out the first three games due to suspension.
On the flipside, the Bulldogs have a very active defense, which has impressed Tulsa coaches.
"They are a 3-man front," Blankenship explained. "Their nose tackle Tyler Davidson is very active. They are a very challenging well-coached defensive front. By design, in the type of defense that Coach DeRuyter has had in the past, in the 3-man front, you'll get a lot of blitzing, a lot of safety involvement and those guys are very good players.
"They have a lot of returning starters, so I think this is a veteran team and they're playing very well right now. So I'm excited to have our opportunity to tee it up with them."
Likewise, Fresno State is enthusiastic about this week's game and is glad to have a chance for a big road win.
"Every game is very important, but this game may be a little bit more so," said Coach DeRuyter. "We're playing an excellent team. We've got to play as well as we have all year to have a chance in this game. The fact that it is on the road is something that presents its own challenge, so if we can overcome that hurdle, that will be big for our team. It's not a conference game, but because it is leading into it, you can obviously get some momentum if you string wins together, so in a lot of ways, it's very big.
"Between Conference USA and the Mountain West, there's a little bit of rivalry as to who's the next best conference, so this is our chance to represent our conference on the road. I think all that ties together."
Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas echoed the sentiments of his head coach.
"We're just going to have to be in the right mindset, go out there and play hard against a good team," he said. "They have two good running backs, and I know they have a lot of tall receivers. We're just going to have to go out there and play hard, play physical and play with that effort that we did against Colorado."
Fresno State coach impressed with Tulsa
Tim DeRuyter is in his first season as head coach of the Bulldogs. He was previously the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M and interviewed with Tulsa in January of 2011. DeRuyter had plenty to say about TU at his weekly press conference:
"This week, we've got an upgraded opponent, to be honest with you, with Tulsa. Bill Blankenship has done a great job continuing what Todd Graham had done before. They're one of the top offenses in the country. They're doing a great job of running the football, while still being extremely balanced. It makes it very, very difficult to prepare for.
"They've got a former Big 12 quarterback that's starting for them now in Cody Green, who is 6-5 and about 245, and he's a load. They've got a couple excellent backs as well as some good receivers. Defensively, I believe they're leading the country in sacks right now. They create a ton of minus yards plays. They're big, physical and coached very well by Brent Guy, who used to be the head coach up at Utah State and is an excellent defensive coach. We know we've got our hands full this weekend, and we're looking forward to a great week of preparation.
"They're a little bit like us. They're up-tempo, they're going to spread you out, they're going to go multiple personnel grouping, and they've got some explosive players. They've got backs that break tackles and go the distance. They've got long receivers that can go up and catch the ball over people. They've got a quarterback who has played in the Big 12. He sat out a year ago after transfer, and now it's his turn to start, and he's well entrenched in their system.
"We realize this is going to be a great test. They've been running this system for a while now. This is Coach Blankenship's second year, but he was on the previous staff and got elevated. He's taken it step by step where there hasn't been a big transition. These guys are going to be very difficult to stop, as evidenced by what they've done so far."
7-Day Free Trial: Get premium access to InsideTulsaSports.com!