Bobby Lewis, NewsOn6.com
TULSA, Oklahoma – Somebody please pass the coffee. Players, fans and media alike are probably all still a little bleary-eyed after Oklahoma State and Tulsa didn't kick off until 12:16 Sunday morning.
The weather was a factor in the game, whether the teams use it as an excuse or not. The field was soaked, the winds were wretched and the early-morning start time was both ridiculous and dangerous according to both coaches.
That being said, talent prevailed in the 59-33 Cowboys win. The Golden Hurricane was over-matched much of the morning and has big time questions to answer after losing multiple stars to injury.
They scored the more points than they had all season, but it was an up-and-down game. This is really difficult to call because, while the running game was outstanding, the passing game was abysmal.
Trey Watts (159) and Ja'Terian Douglas (173) combined to rush for 332 yards in the loss. It's the first time that Tulsa has had two backs rush for 100+ yards in a single game since Courtney Tennial (109) and Terrion Adams (116) did it in the 2006 meeting with Rice.
G.J. Kinne was lost for the game in the first quarter after he was hit late out of bounds on the Tulsa sideline. He slid awkwardly on his knee before colliding with a cart.
He left the game with what's being reported by some as a slight MCL tear. The Tulsa athletic office does not release MRI results to the media and is calling Kinne's situation a day-to-day injury.
Backup quarterback Kalen Henderson admitted it took him "a quarter" to adjust to playing college football. He was thrown into the lion's den and looked uncomfortable much of the night. He fumbled three times and threw three interceptions.
For all of the poor plays, he did make two nice throws that resulted in Bryan Burnham touchdowns. He will face another stout defense against Boise State next weekend on the road.
Bill Blankenship said during his postgame interview that he anticipates spending a lot of time with Kalen doing film study on Sunday and even more as the team gets into practice this week.
If Kinne can't play against the Broncos, a team that he said before the year that he wanted to beat more than anyone else on the schedule, then Henderson will make his first college start on the road against the No. 4 team in the nation.
It was all downhill after Shawn Jackson's interception during the Cowboys' opening drive. Tulsa allowed 543 yards of total offense and watched Joseph Randle streak past them into the end zone three times on the rain-soaked turf. OSU scored in 7 or fewer plays on five of its drives and had receivers open in the middle of the field the entire night/morning.
TU did get to the quarterback a few times but had no answer for Randle or Jeremy Smith (who scored for the 7th-straight game) running the ball. Brandon Weeden threw for nearly 400 yards and fooled Tulsa with some deep-ball fakes before opting for the underneath receiver. OSU picked up big gains on swing passes to receivers camped out between the hash marks.
Tulsa did hold Justin Blackmon in check. The standout junior finished the night with just 7 catches for 57 yards. It snapped his 14-game streak of 100+ yards receiving. He did catch a touchdown pass in the second half.
Defensive end Cory Dorris left the game with an undisclosed injury. He was helped off the field after he stumbled to his feet after making a hit in the backfield during the second half. Tulsa's defense was awful against Oklahoma and outstanding against Tulane. The wet surface may have slowed them down a bit, but the Cowboys' running backs didn't seem to have any trouble finding traction.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C+
Tulsa was, again, very good at returning kicks. Three players combined to average over 22 yards per return. But, for the first time this season the Tulsa kickoff coverage made a mistake. Justin Gilbert answered Tulsa's first field goal with a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that gave the Pokes' the lead for good. Tulsa missed multiple tackles on the play. Other than that return, OSU only managed 53 yards on five returns.
Cole Way did a nice job kicking with the wind at his back. The punts sailing into the wind didn't make it much further than 30 yards. The elements really hindered the special teams. Kevin Fitzpatrick missed his first extra point try of the year, as well.
There were high points and low points. Kalen Henderson made some plays that made you think he'd get swallowed up by the practice squad defense, but he also made a few eye-catching throws. Liken it to the one perfect shot you hit per round on the golf course. That one shot keeps you coming back. Those touchdowns are the thing Henderson will be happy with when he looks back on the game film.
The defense will have a tough time against Boise State if they don't get more pressure on the quarterback. Weeden had all the time in the world to dice up the Golden Hurricane secondary. Tulsa will need much better than what it's gotten from its defense to this point.