It was a worry coming into the season, and so far, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane’s nightmares have been coming true. The Conference USA favorite has been struggling mightily on the defensive side since the season opener, and it’s been unable to slow down their opponents.
Iowa State will try to find a way to get their offense going in the same ways that Bowling Green, Colorado State, and Oklahoma were able to do.
Tulsa Defense Quick Facts
- Total defense: Gives up 426 yards on the ground per game (76th in nation).
- Scoring defense: Gives up 37.3 points per game (101st in nation).
- Opponents rush an average of 57.8 percent of the time, picking up 4.5 yards per attempt (75th in nation).
The Golden Hurricane only returned three starters on defense, two of those being at linebacker: senior Shawn Jackson and junior Mitchell Osborne. Both players rank second and third, respectively, in the tackle rankings. Jackson leads the team with 4.5 tackles for loss, totaling 21 yards, and also has one sack and one interception.
While Iowa State’s problem is not bringing back their linebacker experience, both teams have a problem when it comes to their defensive lines. More specifically, their run defenses. Both teams give up over 200 yards on the ground per game.
Combining the weak defensive line along with sophomore linebacker Trent Martin being questionable for the game, it will be up to the experienced linebacker duo to not let the Cyclones get anything going on the ground yet this season. Martin is fifth on the team in total tackles (18) and also has four tackles for loss.
Tulsa does a little better at defending the pass. Opponents average throwing the ball 13 plays less than running, and that’s due to the Golden Hurricane allowing just a 54.3 percent completion rate. If Iowa State becomes one-sided again this week, it will have its hands full with the secondary — similar to what happened in last season’s Liberty Bowl.
One emerging player to watch is sophomore defensive back Michael Mudoh, who currently has the lead with 35 total tackles for the team. He picked up 17 of them in the season opener at Bowling Green and had an interception against Colorado State.