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David Johnson, Gus Malzahn gone, but Tulsa’s still got talent

Greg Archuleta, Albuquerque Journal Published: August 30, 2009
Quarterback David Johnson is gone, as is cooffensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who was hired at Auburn in the offseason. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Tulsa’s in bad shape.

"The big factor on our football team is that we’re the most talented that we’ve ever been,” Golden Hurricane coach Todd Graham said during a recent fall practice. "I think we’ll be the best we’ve been on defense.”

Graham does acknowledge that his team is the most inexperienced at key positions during his tenure, but it’s not like the cupboard is bare.

Competing at quarterback this fall: junior Jacob Bower, a transfer from Bakersfield (Calif.) Junior College who originally signed and spent one season at Brigham Young in 2006; sophomore G.J. Kinne, a transfer who originally signed and played one season at Texas; and Shavodrick Beaver, a true freshman who spurned Michigan to play for the Hurricane.

Wide receivers Slick Shelley (39 receptions, 627 yards, eight touchdowns last season), and Damaris Johnson (53 receptions for 743 yards to go with 327 rushing yards) will be back in 2009.

Seven of eight starters on the defensive back end return for the Hurricane in their 3-3-5 scheme, including all three linebackers.

Middle linebacker Mike Bryan is a preseason All-Conference USA selection (as voted by C-USA media who choose a preseason all-conference team but does not produce a preseason poll) and is one of eight senior starters.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services