Dec. 18, 2003
As Georgia Tech continues its preparations for the Humanitarian Bowl, the Yellow Jackets must get ready to face the very unique offense run by the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.
Tech (6-6, 4-4 ACC) and Tulsa (8-4, 6-2 WAC) meet Jan. 3 at 12 noon ET at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho. The Jackets are making their seventh straight bowl appearance and 32nd overall, while Tulsa, is playing in a bowl for the first time since 1991. After winning just two games over the last two seasons, the Golden Hurricane are the nation’s most improved team under first-year head coach Steve Kragthorpe.
“Defensively, they’re similar to Wake Forest in alignment,” said Tech head coach Chan Gailey. “They play the 3-3-5 and bring a lot of different looks. BYU also runs that. But offensively, they’re not like anybody we have seen all year. They are very unique in what they do.”
Tulsa is very balanced on offense, averaging 212.3 yards rushing and 195.8 yards passing per game. Quarterback James Kilian has thrown 22 touchdowns against 11 interceptions, passing for 2,120 yards while completing 57 percent of his passes. He is also the team’s second-leading rusher with 542 yards and seven scores.
“One of the unusual things about Tulsa is that their tight end is their leading receiver,” continued Gailey. “You don’t find that very often. They play three tight ends and four tight ends quite a bit and give you a lot of different formations and personnel groups. It’s like a new offense each week, and they’ll have a lot of new stuff in, I’m sure, for our game.”
Tulsa actually lists two tight ends and no fullback on its depth chart. One of the starting tight ends, Garrett Mills, leads the team with 50 catches for 429 yards and nine touchdowns, while the other one, Caleb Blankenship, adds 30 receptions for 311 yards and two scores.
Starting running back Eric Richardson has gained 798 yards with 12 touchdowns.
The Hurricane won their final five games en route to a second-place finish in the WAC behind 18th-ranked Boise State. During that five-game skein, Tulsa averaged 40.8 per game.
“It looks like their execution got better, and they made more big plays,” said Gailey. “It’s the first year for that offense, and the execution really caught fire the last five games of the season.”
The Tulsa defense features WAC Rookie of the Year Nick Bunting, a true freshman linebacker who made 75 tackles. Bandit Kedrick Alexander is the team’s leading tackler with 112 hits and three interceptions.