July 13, 2012
The following is the sixth installment of a 12-part series, previewing each of Marshall's opponents for the upcoming football season.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -
An Oct. 6 homecoming game against Tulsa will serve as Marshall's Conference USA home opener in 2012.
The Thundering Herd will be shooting for its first win over the Golden Hurricane, which leads the series 3-0. Tulsa returns plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, but will have to replace all-conference quarterback G.J. Kinne.
Kinne's arm made Marshall's defense dizzy last November, throwing for 302 yards and four touchdowns with just seven incompletions in a 59-17 home win over the Herd. Like many of Marshall's opponents, Tulsa will have to decide on a new starter.
The latest depth chart released by second-year Coach Bill Blankenship has Cody Green earning the start. Without even taking a snap at Tulsa, Green already has something in common with Kinne -- Big 12 Conference experience. The junior played in 17 games and made four starts at Nebraska before transferring after the 2010 season. Kinne made the switch after two years at Texas.
Green will be surrounded by experience, especially at running back with Ja'Terian Douglas and Trey Watts returning, last season's top playmakers. Tulsa's top two receiving threats in 2011 also return in Willie Carter and Bryan Burnham. Carter ranked fifth in the conference with 78.9 yards per catch. Burnham ranked ninth in the conference with 65.4 yards per reception and caught 10 passes for 146 yards against Marshall, both career highs.
Also helping the new QB will be a manageable schedule. Tulsa's 8-5 record and bid to the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl last season (24-21 loss to BYU) was impressive, but more impressive considering four of those losses were to teams ranked in the top 10 -- including Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State. Tulsa will replace those non-conference games with dates at Arkansas and Iowa State and at home against Nicholls State and Fresno State.
Offensive Player to Watch
Wide receiver Khiry Cooper recently joined the team for summer workouts after playing the last three seasons at Nebraska. As a graduate transfer, Cooper will be eligible immediately while pursuing a master's degree. Cooper is an immense talent, and he played baseball as well as football for the Cornhuskers. He was a fifth-round MLB Draft pick from high school in 2008, but still attended Nebraska. He saw action in nine games in 2011 including one start before a foot injury ended his season. Cooper's only touchdown reception came from Green, which was the QB's first collegiate score.
Defensive Player to Watch
Safety Dexter McCoil was named to the All-Conference USA second team last season and was the league's co-leader in interceptions with six, including one for a 74-yard touchdown against North Texas. McCoil is one of three seniors projected to start in the Golden Hurricane secondary.
Who will effectively replace all-conference first team place-kicker Kevin Fitzpatrick? The school's career scoring leader converted 12-of-14 field goals, including three from more than 50 yards last season, while also serving as the punter in the final six games. Sophomore Cole Way, an all-freshman punter, is expected to take over both positions.
After losing three starting offensive linemen to graduation, who will step up fill the void? Center Trent Dupy will anchor an offensive line which as Blankenship says, has depth. Dupy is a three-year starter and should give Tulsa some leadership at the position.
Who will provide the leadership on defense that All-Conference USA first team linebacker Curnelius Arnick possessed? Arnick ranked third in the nation with 91 solo tackles and sixth in total tackles with 142.
Quote to Note
"If you've got to break in a new quarterback, you want to do it in a time that will surround him with a lot of playmakers. I think this is a year where when we look at the quarterback, he needs to understand that he needs to be like a point guard in basketball; distribute the ball."
- Bill Blankenship, head coach
Sept. 1 at Iowa State
Sept. 8 vs. Tulane*
Sept. 15 vs. Nicholls State
Sept. 22 vs. Fresno State
Sept. 29 at UAB*
Oct. 6 at Marshall*
Oct. 11 vs. UTEP*
Oct. 20 vs. Rice*
Nov. 3 at Arkansas
Nov. 10 at Houston*
Nov. 17 vs. UCF*
Nov. 24 at SMU*
* Conference USA