Chemistry problems to blame for TU's passing-game issues
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
9/26/12 at 5:19 AM
TU Notebook: Benefiting from stress
When matched with Iowa State and Fresno State, the University of Tulsa passing game functioned at a level far below what was expected during the preseason.
"There's no question that we're not achieving at the level that we want to achieve," Golden Hurricane coach Bill Blankenship.
Against Tulane (which now has a 13-game losing streak) and Nicholls State (a Football Championship Subdivision program), TU quarterback Cody Green completed 63 percent of his passes for four touchdowns against no interceptions.
Against Iowa State and Fresno State, however, Tulsa's efficiency plummeted. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Green, a transfer from Nebraska, had a completion rate of only 42 percent with five interceptions against three TDs.
"I know he's not happy with his performance, but he does not demonstrate that," Blankenship said. "He is a very unselfish quarterback. A lot of guys can act that way, but he demonstrates it in the way he plays."
Fresno State scored twice on interception returns, but TU - after trailing 20-7 - rallied for a 27-26 victory.
"Not every day do you throw three interceptions - with two returned for touchdowns - and then come out with the win by one point," Green said after his 13-of-37 performance against the Bulldogs.
In each of the previous seven seasons, Golden Hurricane quarterbacks completed at least 60 percent of their attempts. Not since 1996, when Troy DeGar finished at .443, has a Tulsa QB been lower than 51 percent.
Through four games, while the Hurricane offensive line surrendered only three sacks, Green has completed 48.8 percent of his passes.
"Cody doesn't have the chemistry yet that we need to aspire for with the receivers," Blankenship said. "I think it will evolve. We lost our best receiver early on (when Bryan Burnham sustained a knee injury at Iowa State). I'm confident that the chemistry will continue to grow.
"Looking back at G.J.'s first year (the 2009 season with G.J. Kinne as the sophomore starter), we had similar chemistry problems."
In advance of Saturday's Conference USA contest at UAB, no Hurricane receiver is statistically among the league's top 10 pass-catchers. Sophomore Keyarris Garrett is the team leader with 14 catches.
To Green's credit, Tulsa's coaches say, he has been an effective leader even when struggling to complete passes.
"Ultimately, I was proud of his poise and leadership (during the Fresno State game),' Blankenship said. "(Former TU coach). F.A. Dry told me a long time ago that the measure of a quarterback is 'Do you lead them to victory?' So I give (Green) a lot of positives on that.
"The film (of the Fresno State game) was not as bad as it looked on the field. I think he'll get better."
Green did connect on game-changing throws against Fresno State:
After the Bulldogs had taken a 13-0 lead, Tulsa faced third-and-13 from its own 39-yard line. On a deep slant pattern, Thomas Roberson collected a 29-yard strike from Green. On the next play, Ja'Terian Douglas scored on a 32-yard run.
With 9:34 left before halftime and Fresno State leading 20-7, the Hurricane lined up for a fourth-and-13 snap from the Bulldog 31. Green lofted a perfect pass to a well-defended Garrett in the back of the end zone, and Garrett made a tough reception for the TD. "That was as good a throw and as good a catch as you'll see," TU offensive coordinator Greg Peterson said.
During the third period, Green found Jordan James for a gain of 42 yards. Four plays later, a Daniel Schwarz field goal pulled Tulsa to within 20-17.
"With each practice and each game, we're a continued work in progress," Peterson said. "We love the big plays that are happening, but can we be better?
"In three of the first four games, Cody has spells where he is 10-of-12 or 10-of-14, so we know we are capable of getting back on track. Consistency is what we need."
2 p.m. Saturday
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Original Print Headline: Chemistry problems impact TU pass game
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
TU's Cody Green is tackled by Fresno State's Anthony Williams on Saturday. TOM GILBERT / Tulsa World
TU quarterback Cody Green throws a pass during the first half against Nicholls State. TOM GILBERT / Tulsa World