Here are five key matchups in the Texas-Tulsa game to keep your eye on Saturday:
1. Kris Boyd vs. Tulsa QB Luke Skipper
Skipper, a junior, has six career starts for the Golden Hurricane. Five of them came last year, when he completed 55.9 percent of his passes for 1,141 yards and three touchdowns. But he’s 2-4 as a starter. Skipper missed Tulsa’s season finale last year with an injury, then won the starting spot again during training camp. Boyd dropped a sure-fire interception last week against Maryland. It could’ve been a pick-six the other way. The preseason All-Big 12 selection will be looking to rebound.
2. Tulsa’s Shamari Brooks vs. Texas’ run defense
Tulsa runs a variation of the Baylor offense made famous by former coach Art Briles. So many fans think that means throwing it all over the place. On the contrary, Tulsa wants to run the ball a lot. Brooks had 129 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener and needs just 184 yards to reach 1,000 for his career. The Horns got run ragged by the Terps via the jet sweep and some of the defensive players got banged up in the process. Don’t be surprised if Tulsa has success on the ground against Todd Orlando’s unit.
3. Lil’Jordan Humphrey vs. Tulsa’s secondary
The offensive coaching staff unveiled a game plan last week that relies upon Humphrey. Smart move. He had a team-high six catches for 82 yards and averaged 25.5 yards on two kick returns. Humphrey is a versatile, do-it-all threat who should have a chance to do it all. Tulsa cornerback Reggie Robinson II, a junior, had a team-high nine pass breakups last season. The key for Humphrey will be to create mismatches in space; Tulsa coaches don’t want to let this 6-4 athletic freak get the upper hand in open space.
4. Keaontay Ingram vs. Tulsa LB Diamon Cannon
Every solid defense needs a solid leader. That’s what Cannon does for a relatively young Golden Hurricane defense. He’s got nine career starts and 20 games on his résumé along with 70 career tackles. Defensive coaches may have spent the week looking at UT’s Tre Watson or Daniel Young. But expect freshman Keaontay Ingram to get more chances this week. He had just six carries (37 yards, one TD) against Maryland but oddly didn’t get a single touch after halftime. Does offensive coordinator Tim Beck think that will increase this week? “Yeah, I do. And probably each and every week,” Beck said.
5. Tom Herman vs. Philip Montgomery
Herman didn’t exactly thump Montgomery’s crew in 2015 and 2016 while coaching at Houston. Both games were competitive and closer than Herman probably liked. Houston won 38-24 in 2015 and 38-31 the following year. Nowadays, Herman has a bigger paycheck but the same problems will present themselves at Royal-Memorial Stadium. Montgomery will field a competitive offense, and Herman has to be feeling serous pressure to avoid going 0-2. This is the first time these schools have met in football. Tulsa will want to make it memorable.
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.