Vitals: Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs. North Texas

Thursday, September 29th 2011, 5:27 pm
By: News 9

Grant Belcher,

Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-3, 1-0 C-USA) hosting North Texas (1-3, 0-1 Sun Belt)
6 p.m. CST
H.A. Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Statistical Leaders

  Tulsa North Texas
Passing G.J. Kinne
55-91, 648 yards, 6 TD
Derek Thompson
56-102, 620 yards, 4 TD
Rushing Trey Watts
60 rush, 22 yards, 1 TD
Lance Dunbar
77 rush, 248 yards, 1 TD
Receiving Bryan Burnham
15 rec, 241 yards, 5 TD
Lance Dunbar
18 rec, 258 yards, 1 TD

Where to look for it:

TV: None
Radio: KRMG 740 AM/FM 102.3 (Bruce Howard, Rick Couri, Chris Kaiser)

Injury Report:

Tulsa: QB G.J. Kinne (knee, probable), DB John Flanders, DT Darrell Zellars (out, academics), WR Damaris Johnson (out indefinitely, suspension)

North Texas: C J.J. Johnson (hand, questionable), LB Jeremy Phillips (thumb, out indefinitely)

What you need to know

Talk about a breath of fresh air. Not to discredit North Texas, but this matchup will certainly be a world of difference for the Golden Hurricane compared to their other non-conference opponents. North Texas is 1-3 on the season, with losses to Florida International, Houston and Alabama. Tulsa sports the same overall record, but its losses have all been to top five teams (No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 4 Boise State and No. 5 Oklahoma State).

North Texas is coming off a win against Indiana, but there's no denying that the Mean Green are certainly struggling so far in the early season. North Texas ranks 111th nationally in points per game (15.8) and 110th nationally in points allowed per game (37.8) out of 120 Division I teams. Its offensive yardage totals are also among the worst in the country.

To put it in perspective, North Texas has zero punt return yards on the season through four games. Mainly because its opponents rarely have the need to punt.

The Golden Hurricane's rushing attack will be ready to go to town against a weak North Texas defense, especially if quarterback G.J. Kinne continues to struggle while nursing a knee injury. Kinne threw four interceptions for the first time in his career last week, and was not playing at full speed, regardless of whether he said the injury was affecting him. Trey Watts and Ja'Terian Douglas were bottled up against Boise State after huge weeks against OSU, so both should be ready to explode again and put up some big numbers.

Who to watch

Tulsa linebacker Curnelius Arnick is putting together an absolutely unheard-of stat sheet through the first four games of the season. He is averaging nearly 14 tackles per game against TU's top five-ridden schedule, and is second in the nation in tackles behind only Luke Kuechly of Boston College, who averages 17.25.

With Kinne struggling last week, no one on Tulsa's offense had any good-looking stats, but receiver Bryan Burnham should be ready to get back on track. He had five touchdowns in his first three games before drawing a blank against Boise, catching two passes for 11 yards. Burnham has shown that he is now the man at the wide receiver spot after Damaris Johnson's debacle has kept him off the field.

As is so fittingly the case, the nation's worst teams often have some of the best punters. North Texas' Will Atterberry is the 13th-best punter in the nation, statistically, averaging 44.9 yards per punt. The fact that the Mean Green's punter is the only player on the team anywhere close to the national rankings is likely a bad sign for the team, however.