With only one win in their inaugural year in the American Athletic Conference, the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane football team is not making much of a first impression. Head Coach Bill Blankenship and his young team are looking to make a few strides to salvage their pride as they look to salvage some pride against the SMU Mustangs this Saturday in H.A. Chapman Stadium.
“It’s certainly not nearly as much fun.” Blankenship said at his weekly press conference, “We have a whole lot more fun when we’re rocking and rolling and winning those games. It’s a lot more of a challenge, but with more challenges comes great opportunity and we’re going to continue to stay in the fight. Somebody sent me a text the other day that said `The dead don’t bleed’, and we’re still bleeding.”
The Hurricane have only one win in the 2014 season, a conference win in double overtime against Tulane on opening day. Their opponent this week is winless in their season, 0-3 in the American, 0-7 overall and SMU is also in search of the consolation “moral victories” on the way out. Still, p-laying with nothing to lose in terms of bowls or any post-season inspires an attitude and Blankenship touched on that.
“I think there’s a huge group of our guys that don’t see themselves and the season as the record shows. It’s hard to explain, but two or three of them have come to me and said that’s not how they feel. They just continue to fight.” Blankenship said, “I’ll say it again, we have great, great young men and they have not let me down in terms of my expectations of how they would continue to operate. I don’t think that anyone could reasonably believe that they’re not somewhat discouraged, somewhat disheartened, but they have not let it be reflected in how they go about doing their business at practice and how we prepare for games.”
SMU cones into the contest on Saturday having recently gone through a change in leadership with the replacement of their head coach. June Jones resigned as the Mustangs head coach on September 8th. His resignation was after SMU lost to Baylor and North Texas by a combined score of 88-6 in two games. Coach Blankenship feels that the disorganization that has resulted since Jones’ resignation might give the Golden Hurricane a chance this Saturday.
“They’ve struggled a lot more offensively than normal for an SMU team. I think that their record shows you that they didn’t score much very early on.” Blankenship said, “It took them a while to get in the end zone. I think that may be a direct reflection of Coach Jones not still being there. I don’t know that. I do think that their offense has not operated at the efficiency we’ve seen from them in the past.
“Defensively, they’re getting behind in games and it’s looking like a lot of similar things to what we deal with; missed tackles, missed assignments, those types of things. How it all plays out, I can’t speak for them, I don’t know what their situation is. I am very confident that we’re going to get their best shot on Saturday morning at 11:00.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s game is slated for 11:00am in Chapman Stadium and billed as Toys For Tots/Military Appreciating Day. Fans who bring a new and unwrapped toy valued at $15 or more will receive FREE ADMISSION to the game. In addition, military personnel, past and present, will receive Free Admission with a valid military ID.
Three Wounded Warriors will be recognized on the field during the game and will join the captains for the coin toss.