TU football notebook: Morning football again
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Saturday, November 24, 2012
11/24/12 at 6:50 AM
For the fourth time this season, the University of Tulsa plays a football game that kicks off during the morning.
TU's meetings with Tulane and the University of Central Florida began at 11 a.m. The Golden Hurricane's game at Arkansas began at 11:21. Saturday's contest at SMU has an 11 o'clock start time, and so does next week's Conference USA championship game.
"It is a love-hate relationship," Hurricane tailback Trey Watts said of the early start times. "You get up at 6:30 in the morning with the wake-up call and you're like 'Man, I don't know about this.'
"But then you get to the game at 11 o'clock and it comes fast. You like that part because you don't have to wait around for the game. If you have family coming into town, and you don't want to be sitting in the hotel all day when you could play at 11 and then spend some time with your family. So it's nice to have the 11 o'clock games, just having that quality time with your family you don't get to see all of the time."
Backfield brilliance: During the 2011 season, TU got a 13-game combined total of 2,043 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns from tailbacks Ja'Terian Douglas, Trey Watts and Alex Singleton. Through 11 games this season, their combined totals are 2,220 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Singleton is primarily responsible for the statistical spike. As a junior last season, he ran for 279 yards, averaging 3.4 per attempt and scoring eight touchdowns. This season, the 260-pound senior has rambled for 636 yards, averaging 4.2 per attempt and scoring 18 touchdowns - a single-season program record for rushing TDs.
"I really thought that (tailback) was a good, solid position for us, (but) I think Alex has been more productive than I expected," Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship said. "I thought J.T. and Trey could (match or exceed 2011 production). But I think Alex's addition - being more effective - may be helping them because we're keeping fresh legs on the field. We're able to play the hot runner a little bit more."
Resilient Hurricane: Six of Tulsa's 11 games have been decided by no more than seven points. The TU record in those games is 5-1. Having eight senior starters on defense, along with three on the offensive line, contributes to the team's poise in tight situations, but Blankenship says the Hurricane's younger players also have uncommon levels of maturity and toughness.
"I think we had a sense for it in the spring," Blankenship said. "We had a feel that this could be a really good team. You come out of fall camp, you feel like we could be pretty good. We go to Iowa State and, man, we were far from achieving what I thought we would do. And then I thought the (Fresno State) win was a huge win for us. That was kind of that first step. Was that a blip or was that what we could really become?
"And then I found out we were a lot tougher physically than I thought we would be. I didn't expect for us to physically dominate in the defensive line and offensive line. I think when you open your eyes and see that we can do that consistently, you think that this can be a really physical team. They've handled some adversity, both internally and on the outside."
TULSA AT SOUTHERN METHODIST
11 a.m. Saturday
Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas
Weather: A temperature in
the mid-50s and a clear sky.
Records: Tulsa 9-2 overall,
7-0 Conference USA; SMU
Last meeting: Last year, Tulsa
defeated SMU 38-7 at H.A.
Series: SMU leads 12-7.