Tulsa has gotten a lot of mileage from tailback Trey Watts, a former walk-on and the son of former OU wishbone quarterback J.C. Watts. Last season, Trey Watts’ biggest plays occurred in the most important games on the schedule. Here is the Tulsa World account of his punt-return TD against Central Florida in the Conference USA championship game: “With 5:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, and with Central Florida leading 27-21, Watts stunned the H.A. Chapman Stadium crowd and the Knights by scoring on a 54-yard, classically ad-libbed punt return. A member of the UCF coverage unit had batted the bouncing ball — but the officials did not blow the play dead. As UCF players were mostly stationary, Watts scooped the ball, benefited from a great block by freshman Derek Patterson and raced down the Tulsa sideline for the score.” The Hurricane went on to prevail in overtime. And during Tulsa’s 31-17 conquest of Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Watts rushed for 148 yards. He was voted the game’s most valuable player. For Watts, reasonable 2013 goals would include 1,200 rushing yards and 350 receiving yards, along with at least a couple of home-run returns. Last season, he averaged nearly 28 yards on kickoff returns. Entering his senior season, Watts’ career numbers include 2,176 rushing yards (5.4 per attempt) and 85 receptions for 757 yards.
5. Where do you think Tulsa’s greatest strengths are as a team, and where do you see potential weaknesses?
As Bill Blankenship enters his third season as the head man, a Tulsa strength is stability within its coaching staff. For the first time since 1995, the entire Hurricane football staff returned intact. A former championship coach at Tulsa’s Union High School, Blankenship already has proven to be a very effective major-college head coach. His two-season record is 19-8. The foundation of any consistently legitimate football program is strong offensive-line play, and Denver Johnson is a nationally respected offensive-line coach. In 14 games last season, the Tulsa line allowed only nine sacks while paving the way for a ground game that averaged 5 yards per attempt and 245.7 yards per game. If there is a potential weakness, it might be on scoring kicks. Last year’s kicker, Daniel Schwarz, has left the program. His apparent successor is an unproven walk-on — Carl Salazar, who played in high school at Broken Arrow and was a Tulsa World All-Metro selection in 2008 and 2009. And, of course, the Hurricane enters the 2013 season with question marks on the defensive line.
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