Practice Report: Tulsa
BY ERIC BAILEY and JIMMIE TRAMEL, World Sports Writers
Friday, August 14, 2009
8/14/09 at 6:47 AM
The starting linebacker trio remains intact for the Golden Hurricane this season.
Leading tackler Mike Bryan had 119 stops last season, and he's joined by fellow senior George Clinkscale and junior Tanner Antle.
Bryan, a middle linebacker, had 10.5 tackles for loss in 2008, and is a consensus preseason All-Conference USA first-team selection. He ranked sixth in the league with 8.5 tackles a game.
Antle added 63 tackles and 4.5 sacks, and Clinkscale had 53 tackles and six tackles for loss last season.
Players to watch include seniors Kaipo Sarkissian and Ade Manga and sophomores Curnelius Arnick and Alan Dock.
The future of the position may be true freshman Cody Wilson, a Lincoln Christian graduate who is one of the strongest players on Tulsa's roster.
News and notes
Notre Dame, Tulsa on: Bubba Cunningham confirmed to an audience at a Tulsa football luncheon on Thursday afternoon that he has the finalized contract which links the Golden Hurricane into a 2010 game at Notre Dame.
No official announcement has been made by either school. The expected game date is Oct. 30 in South Bend, Ind.
TU coach Todd Graham was asked earlier last month about the anticipated trip to Notre Dame.
"As a program, our guys want to play in those type of games," Graham said. "The difference from six years ago is then they'd been thrilled to play in that game. Now our guys think they could win those type of games.
"We're a team that, I think, put ourselves in position from a personnel standpoint, a work standpoint and a talent standpoint that we're ready to step forward and take on those challenges."
Lunch with the Golden Hurricane: A packed house greeted the TU football team at the annual Tulsa Metro Chamber's Golden Hurricane Kickoff Luncheon at the downtown Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Highlights included a "Tonight Show" feel with KJRH sports director Al Jerkens playing the host.
He interviewed Graham, with his first question asking which of the three quarterbacks would be the starter. Graham's response: "It's going to be the guy that takes the first snap."
Linebacker Mike Bryan explained to the crowd what "noodling" is (catching catfish with his bare hand), Wilson Garrison explained the defense's goals and A.J. Whitmore did a spot-on impersonation of senior associate head coach Paul Randolph.
A number of quarterbacks received looks as the Miners went through a 60-play scrimmage on Wednesday morning.
Quarterbacks Trevor Vittatoe and Carson Meger led scoring drives, capped with touchdown throws by both.
Vittatoe, the returning starter, completed 6-of-12 passes for 48 yards, but was the victim of several dropped balls.
"The only negative today was that the receivers dropped the ball. We can't have that," UTEP coach Mike Price said. "The defense is playing better. They're running to the ball and hitting well. We ran a lot of plays today and got a lot done. I'm pleased with our camp so far. We haven't had a non-effort day yet."
Meger completed 3-of-4 passes for 38 yards.
Four other UTEP quarterbacks saw action in the scrimmage, with Kyle Wright finishing 2-for-6 for 33 yards, Tim Curry 3-for-4 for 16 yards and James Thomas II 5-for-7 for 14 yards. Andy McCloud's only pass attempt fell incomplete.
Donald Buckram was the Miners' leading rusher. His first three carries gained 18, 21 and 8 yards respectively as he finished with 53 yards on six attempts.
Aug. 24: Classes begin
Aug. 31: First Todd Graham press conference
Sept. 4: Tulsa at Tulane, 7 p.m., Louisiana Superdome
TU linebacker Mike Bryan reacts to a big Tulsa stop against New Mexico at H.A. Chapman Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008. STEPHEN HOLMAN/Tulsa World