New Tulsa Coach Philip Montgomery is looking for consistency as he molds his first offense for the Golden Hurricane.
“Offensively, we’re just not as consistent as I want to be right now,” he said at practice last week. We’re hitting some big stuff. We’re really coming together. Our five guys up front have really starting jelling.
“We just have to be more consistent. We’ll have a good play, good play, and then when we get a bad play, we have to be responding the correct way.”
Montgomery has challenged the defense.
“I kind of challenged the defense a little bit, and they came out and had a great day,” he said. “We did a lot of situational stuff (a lot of third down situations) and I thought the defense did an outstanding job. They flew around to the football and their energy was really good.”
Montgomery has coached for nearly two decades but this is his first head coaching job in college. He was at Baylor the last seven years and most recently was the Bears’ offensive coordinator.
Montgomery began coaching with Baylor Coach Art Briles back in Stephenville High School in Texas. He followed Briles to The University of Houston. In 2013, Montgomery was named Offensive Coordinator of the Year by FootballScoop.com and was named a finalist for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant.
Known for developing quarterbacks, Montgomery coached Big 12 Player of the Year Bryce Petty, Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III and Baylor All-American Nick Florence at Baylor. At Houston, Montgomery coached Kevin Kolb to Conference USA MVP honors and tutored future NFL quarterback Case Keenum for two years. Montgomery will have 105 players to work with this fall. Ten starters return on offense – but there is not guarantee that all will continue to be on the first team. After those 10, six returnees started at least one game in their careers.
TU returns all of the players that accounted for their rushing and passing totals last season plus 94 percent of their receiving yards. Tulsa averaged 412 yards on offense last year, fourth in the conference.
Senior Keyarris Garrett and junior Keevan Lucas are the top returning receivers for Tulsa. They combined for nearly 2,000 yards and 16 touchdowns last year, while combining for 3,282 yards and 26 touchdowns in their careers.
Lucas had team-leading totals of 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns on 101 receptions, while ranking among NCAA leaders in those categories. Garrett, coming back from a leg injury that sidelined him for all but two games in the 2013 season, caught 47 passes for 698 yards and five TDs a year ago.
Lucas was named to the 2015 Biletnikoff Award Preseason Watch List, an award annually given to the outstanding receiver in college football. Lucas led the Hurricane with 101 receptions for 1,219 yards and 11 TDs to finish the season ranked sixth on the school’s all-time receiving chart. He was a second-team American Athletic Conference selection in 2014. Lucas had five 100-yard receiving games with a career-best 233 yards and three TDs on 13 receptions against Tulane.
Lucas ranked among the nation’s leaders in 2014 for receptions per game (5th), receiving yards per game (11th), receiving yards (12th) and receiving TDs (12th).
Four other receivers started games for Tulsa last year.
Tulsa returns receivers who have caught 349 passes for 4,376 yards and 31 touchdowns in their careers.
Only six starters return on defense with another seven who have had at least one career start. Defensive end Derrick Alexander and tackles Derrick Luetjen and Jerry Uwaezuoke anchor the defensive line. The return of tackle Jess Brubaker – out all last year with an injury – is a boost.
Linebackers Trent Martin and Craig Suits are returning starters. Suits was a Football Writer’s Association Freshman All-American. As a redshirt freshman, Suits had 81 tackles, 7.5 stops for lost yards, four pass break-ups and two forced fumbles in 12 starts last year.
Junior punter Dalton Parks has been named to the 2015 preseason watch list for the 2015 Ray Guy Award, presented to the nation’s top collegiate punter. A two-year starter, Parks averaged 42 yards on 70 punts in the 2014 campaign, while earning honorable mention all-conference accolades. Parks had 20 punts land inside the 20-yard line, 14 travel 50 yards or more and 22 fair caught. He is just one of two punters from the American Athletic Conference named to the Ray Guy watch list, joining USF’s Mattias Ciabatti.
Senior offensive guard Garrett Stafford, a 6-5, 300-pound senior from Tulsa’s Memorial High School, has been named to preseason watch lists for the 2015 Rotary Lombardi Award and the Outland Trophy. Stafford has played in 32 career games and has started 26 consecutive contests, including the last 24 at left tackle.
Stafford moved to left guard during spring drills. In 2014, Stafford graded over 80-percent in all 12 games and finished the year with grades over 90-percent in the final six contests.
Senior safety Michal Mudoh is one of 80 collegiate football players named to the Wuerffel Trophy Watch List. The Wuerffel Trophy is known as “College Football’s Premier Award for Community Service.”
Mudoh has played in 38 career games and has started 24 games, as all of his starts have come consecutively since starting the first game of his sophomore season (2013). Mudoh has 271 career tackles and three interceptions, while totaling 14 career games with double-figure tackles. He has been involved in numerous community activities during his Tulsa career and has participated in the Feed My Starving Children Program, performed karaoke at Cancer Treatments Center of America, has mentored young adults, assisted with the ‘Chosen’ ministry for inner city youth, has visited the Children’s hospital, and has also been involved in various community outreach with his church. Former Tulsa quarterback Paul Smith was the 2007 recipient of the Wuerffel Trophy.
Tulsa opens the 2015 season against the FAU Owls on September 5, at H.A. Chapman Stadium with game time set for 2:30 p.m.