College football is about one month away. Here is why Tulsa can be good again:
New offensive coordinator . This guy learned from the best (Malzahn) and used the same offense to take his mediocre-to-bad Texas high school football team to the state championship for four of his last six years.
Kinne had his moments last year. He should be improved. Hopefully he and Beaver are vastly improved. There is nothing behind them this year. If Kinne is a "7," and Beaver is a "4," the next two guys are a "1" and that's generous.
Charles Davis returns! This guy is a veteran who got an extra year of eligibility after injury in '09.
Deep secondary . The coaches added tons of talent (several promising JUCO prospects and some very fast high school guys). There are 22 defensive backs competing for five spots. In C-USA, defensive back depth is key.
Damaris Johnson. This guy was the highlight of last year's crash-and-burn season. Hopefully someone else will step up.
Wide Receivers . Obviously D. Johnson is one of the best in the conference. Then there is Trae Johnson and Oklahoma transfer Jameel Owens, who can play immediately. AJ Whitmore was dismissed so that is a big hit. Freshman three-star Thomas Roberson of Jenks could contribute immediately. Ricky Johnson should get more playing time.
Fullback Charles Clay is a realistic NFL prospect. He is a hybrid running back-receiver. He knows he needs a "breakout" year to impress NFL scouts. Todd Graham said he wanted Clay to get the ball frequently last year, but that didn't happen. Clay needs a 500-plus rushing, 500-plus receiving campaign. If he is the primary running back, he should be able to get close to 1,000 yards.
The coaches are, as expected, very excited about this year and the new talent. It sounds like they are doing an overhaul. This could either be really good or signal the end of the latest bowl-game era for Tulsa. C-USA is getting much more competitive. Tulsa and Houston were dominating in recruiting and money spent on coaching for several years, but other teams have caught up and Tulsa seems to have been left far behind.
Graham may not be the earth-shaker he was once thought to be. He lost five of nine members of his coaching staff since January...strange.
Hopefully his new offensive coordinator will prove to be Malzahn II.
Also, hope that Tulsa can convince Steve Kragthorpe (who is unemployed and lives in Tulsa) to work for TU, if only as a part-time consultant (esp. on defense: TU's defense was 25th-45th with him as coach).
Based on all of this, anything better than a six-win season should be considered a success.