TU football notebook: Chicago Bears coach and TU alum Lovie Smith attends game
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Friday, October 12, 2012
10/12/12 at 2:33 AM
Among University of Tulsa alumni who watched Thursday's game from an H.A. Chapman Stadium suite was Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith.
In 1978, Smith was a second-team All-American defensive back for the Golden Hurricane. He was a Cascia Hall assistant coach, a TU assistant in 1983-86 and became the Bears' head coach in 2004.
Smith was able to attend the UTEP-TU game because the Bears are idle this week. Chicago is 4-1 and shares the NFC North lead with Minnesota. In their last three games, the Bears handled St. Louis, Dallas and Jacksonville by a combined score of 98-27.
Smith was not made available for interviews on Thursday. Among his TU teammates were quarterback Bill Blankenship (now the Hurricane's head coach) and offensive lineman Denver Johnson (now the Hurricane's offensive line coach).
"Anybody that has ever been around Lovie knew there was something special about him," Blankenship told the Tulsa World last year. "I came to Tulsa in the same recruiting class with Lovie and we spent our time here together. So, for anyone that got to know him back then, his success does not surprise us."
Smith is a Big Sandy, Texas, native.
"I don't think anyone that played on those teams with us is surprised by the success of Lovie," Johnson said last year. "He just seemed to have whatever it takes to be successful in anything. He just happened to use it in coaching."
Way makes a play: On Thursday's opening kickoff, UTEP's Autrey Golden was tackled emphatically not by one of TU's coverage men, but by 6-foot-8 kickoff specialist Cole Way. It was not an awkward, funky kicker tackle. It was a perfectly executed stop by the sophomore from Union.
Long drive: At Marshall last week, Tulsa got a touchdown at the end of what was then was its most time-consuming drive of the season - seven minutes and 30 seconds. Against UTEP, the Hurricane pieced together an even longer possession - a 19-play drive that consumed seven minutes and 35 seconds. But instead of a touchdown, TU was forced to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Daniel Schwarz.
First time: In six previous games, no UTEP opponent had scored during its first possession. On Thursday, during its first possession, the Hurricane drove to a 31-yard field goal by freshman Daniel Schwarz.
Before that Schwarz kick, UTEP opponents had been 2-of-9 on field goals this season.
Nice start: Before Thursday, UTEP quarterback Nick Lamaison completed only 50 percent of his passes. During the first period against TU, he was sharp - 8-of-11 for 100 yards. Lamaison sustained a third-period injury and did not return.
No touchdown: During the first halves of six previous games, Tulsa averaged 27 points. During the first half against UTEP, the Hurricane mustered only two field goals and a 6-3 halftime lead. For the first time since last year's 41-21 loss at Boise State, Tulsa failed to score a first-half touchdown.
Seven already: The UTEP game was Tulsa's seventh of the season. Because each already has had two open dates, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State each has played only four times. The Golden Hurricane hosts Rice on Oct. 20 and has its only open date on Oct. 27. Tulsa plays at Arkansas on Nov. 3.
Non-Saturday games: Since the start of 2007, Tulsa has played 13 non-Saturday games. TU's record is 8-5 in those contests.