TU going Green in opener at Iowa St.
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Saturday, September 01, 2012
9/01/12 at 4:25 AM
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Since 1999, the University of Tulsa is 0-15 against Big 12 football teams. In those games, the Golden Hurricane was beaten by an average of 29.7 points.
TU hasn't recorded a road win over a Big 12 opponent since its 1996 conquest of Oklahoma, but oddsmakers apparently consider the 2012 Hurricane capable of ending that run of futility.
TU is a 1 1/2-point favorite over Iowa State in Saturday's 2:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net-televised season opener at the Cyclones' Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.
The outcome of TU-Iowa State - and of the TU season as a whole - hinges in large part on the performance of junior quarterback Cody Green.
The 6-foot-4, 247-pound Green transferred to Tulsa after spending two years at Nebraska - where he made 18 game appearances and was 4-0 as the starter.
On Nov. 6, 2010, in one of his four starts as the Husker QB, Green was part of a 31-30 overtime victory at Iowa State. His stats weren't dazzling (7-of-12 passing for 79 yards), but he is on record as having been the winning pitcher.
"I don't know if you prepare for Cody Green as much as you prepare for the (Hurricane) offense and what the quarterback position brings to the offense," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. "Obviously, he's 1-0 in this stadium. Any time you lead a team to victory anywhere, you gain confidence.
"The (TU) system is different. You've got to defend against the high-quality receiving corps that they have, two running backs (Ja'Terian Douglas and Trey Watts) that run the ball extremely well and a quarterback who will be involved in their run game."
Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship says he doesn't expect Green to be merely an adequate quarterback, but a dynamic, winning quarterback.
"I hear it, I nod my head and I say thank you," Green said. "Really and truly, that's the expectation that I have for myself."
Green was a 54 percent passer at Nebraska. Blankenship predicts Green will be comparable to predecessors Paul Smith, David Johnson and G.J. Kinne, who all completed at least 60 percent over the past seven years.
"I'm particularly partial to quarterbacks that are cerebral," Blankenship said. "They love to study and put the time in, and he fits in that category to a T.
"Anything that happens on Saturday will not be because of a lack of preparation by Cody Green. He will be prepared."
Elected a team captain by teammates, Green certainly has weapons at his disposal. H-back Willie Carter and wide receivers Bryan Burnham, Keyarris Garrett, Thomas Roberson, Jordan James and Josh Atkinson are playmaking pass-catchers.
Iowa State won national attention with its upset of Oklahoma State as an average team last season. The Cyclones were 6-7, averaging only 22.7 points per game while ranking 95th nationally in total defense.
The Cyclones are quarterbacked by senior Steele Jantz, who in seven starts last season completed only 53 percent of his passes. Iowa State's best players are middle linebacker A.J. Klein and weakside linebacker Jake Knott.
"Those two linebackers are as good as anybody I've seen in the six years that I've been coaching college football," Blankenship said. "They just make plays and don't miss many tackles."
Green struggled during the first several preseason workouts, but has been much more consistent over the past two weeks.
"Things clicked," he explained. "Everything just slowed down for me."
James, a big receiver at 6-2 and 203 pounds, says Green and the offense seem ready to immediately function: "We're liking where we're at going into the season."
If Green is what Blankenship says he is, TU may be destined to finally savor a victory over a Big 12 opponent.
"It's definitely a marker that this program needs," Blankenship said. "We need to get over those kinds of humps. We'll find out where we are on Saturday."
Tulsa at Iowa State
2:30 p.m. Saturday
Radio: KRMG-102.3/740, KITO-96.1, KRIG-104.9, KUSH-1600, KOKL-1240
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
Quarterback Cody Green and TU are favored in Saturday's opener at Iowa State. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World