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Oklahoma Sooners Opponent Q&A With The Tulsa World's Kelly Hines

Oklahoma's game against Tulsa this weekend will feature the only Big 12 game where both teams are undefeated. To help us get the lowdown on the 2-0 Golden Hurricane we turned to the Tulsa World's Kelly Hines.

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CCM: After winning 5 total games over the last two seasons, Tulsa finds itself sitting at 2-0 coming into Norman. How crucial has the quick start to the season been for new head coach Philip Montgomery?

KH: It was really imperative for Tulsa to pick up victories in the obviously winnable games, and that's what has happened so far. There aren't too many of those left on the schedule. For confidence's sake, it's been really beneficial. As you point out, these guys aren't used to winning and especially late last year they seemed pretty down on themselves. To start 2-0 under a new coach, it really shows this is a new era. Some of that momentum may take a hit this week against OU, and then the next game is the conference opener against division favorite Houston.

CCM: Most people think of Montgomery's style as being a guy who slings the ball all over the field, after seeing what he was able to do with a guy like Bryce Petty at Baylor last season, so should we be surprised with the success of the Tulsa running game and the frequency that the Golden Hurricane are keeping the ball on the ground?

KH: I think we probably assumed Montgomery prefers to pass over run because those are the SportsCenter-type plays we see highlighted, but he says historically his teams have been pretty balanced. What maybe more surprising is how well the Hurricane has run the ball given its perceived strength is with the pass and catch. But the offensive line has done well despite movement in the spring, and D'Angelo Brewer and Zack Langer provide a complementary one-two punch. Brewer is shifty and Langer can bowl over defenders. It's worked, so that's why Montgomery has stuck with it.

CCM: Both Coach Montgomery and co-defensive coordinator Bill Young have experience coaching in the Big 12, and more importantly against the Sooners, is there an advantage there from previous Tulsa teams that played Oklahoma?

KH: If there's an advantage, it goes both ways. Those guys, along with co-DC Brian Norwood who also came from Baylor, know what to expect in terms of environment and game plans, which is always good when you're a significant road underdog.

CCM: Quarterback Dane Evans has two fantastic targets in receivers Keevan Lucas and Keyarris Garrett. How do you see them matching up against an Oklahoma secondary that has played above expectations this season?

KH: That's what I'm looking forward to watching. TU leads the nation in pass plays of at least 20 yards, and OU is the only team to hold two FBS opponents to 125 or fewer passing yards. Garrett and Lucas are a great outside-inside combo that can be a tricky matchup for teams as long as Evans can get them the ball. When TU has fallen behind, Evans can sometimes press too hard and that's when interceptions happen.

CCM: Oklahoma's rushing attack has struggled to get started this season and the Tulsa defense is allowing opponents an average of 4.9 yards per carry. Is this the marquee match-up for this game?

KH: That's certainly one of them. TU's defensive line is the strength of its defense, and its linebackers have improved their overall speed by adding two safeties to the position group. Against a rush-heavy team in New Mexico last week, the Hurricane was shaky at the start but bounced back to force five three-and-outs for seven yards in the second quarter and then forced three turnovers in the fourth quarter. This week's opponent has more talent, so we'll have to see how they match up.