TU football notebook: Tough day for Way
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Sunday, December 02, 2012
12/02/12 at 6:28 AM
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Against Central Florida during Saturday's Conference USA championship game, Tulsa's Cole Way punted four times. All four were launched into the teeth of a strong south wind that gusted to nearly 40 mph.
During the regular season, the 6-foot-8 Way averaged 40.4 yards per punt. On his four kicks against the Knights, he had a 23.2-yard average. His average was blasted by punts of 5 and 18 yards.
"I've never kicked in wind like this before," Way said. "I didn't think it was going to be that bad. It's demoralizing to hit a punt, and it feels good - and then watch it hit a wall at about 25 yards. It was super windy."
At SMU last week, Way had a punt blocked for the third time this season. Against UCF, he converted to rugby-style punts - rolling two steps to his left before booting the football.
With the rugby kicks, there was a protection consideration. Way wouldn't be as vulnerable to the Knights' rush if he rolled away from it.
Solid Stafford: After senior Brian DeShane sustained a season-ending leg injury at SMU, Hurricane redshirt freshman Garrett Stafford finished the game at right offensive tackle. Against UCF - in a high-stakes championship game - the former Memorial High School star got the first start of his career and appeared to have played well.
Stafford's blocking was most conspicuous on the final play of the first half, when Ja'Terian Douglas scored on a 2-yard run as time expired. Douglas ran into an opening created by Stafford.
"I felt completely prepared," said Stafford, who was on the field for each of Tulsa's 94 offensive plays. "That touchdown before the half was big. It changed everyone's spirits in the locker room.
"My family was so excited all week. My mom has been going crazy every day."
When asked for his assessment of Stafford's performance, TU quarterback Cody Green said, "He's an animal. At SMU, he played against one of the best ends in the conference (Margus Hunt). That just set Garrett up for this week. He was going to play his best ball today."
Singleton update: With two touchdowns on Saturday, senior tailback Alex Singleton became TU's career leader in TDs with 41. Entering the game, he was tied with Tarrion Adams, a Hurricane tailback from 2005-08.
Weeks ago, Singleton broke the program record for single-season rushing touchdowns. The previous mark was 14, shared by Michael Gunter (1983), Courtney Tennial (2006) and Adams (2008). Singleton now has 21.
Chasing a record: With two sacks in Saturday's championship game, Golden Hurricane senior defensive end Jared St. John has 11 1/2 for the season. The single-season program record is 12, set in 1996 by Salifu Abudulai.
St. John arrived at TU from Edmond Santa Fe High School as a walk-on. Entering the 2012 season, he had a career total of 1 1/2 sacks.