Team Preview: Tulsa

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(All information as of July 1, 2005)


After immediate and surprising success in Steve Kragthorpe's first season, Tulsa went through plenty of growing pains in 2004, losing six of its first seven games and winning four fewer than the year before. The Golden Hurricane lost twice in overtime and came within a field goal of knocking off Boise State.

But after taking over a team that hadn't gone to a bowl in 12 seasons before his arrival, Kragthorpe knew the road could be long and tedious.

"I feel like we've made significant progress in two-and-a-half years," Kragthorpe said. "But we still need to make significant progress to become the team we want to be. We want to be a team that competes for conference championships every season."

Kragthorpe showed that very quickly in Tulsa. An easy choice for Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2003, the first-year coach guided the Golden Hurricane to an 8-5 record, including a 6-2 mark and second-place finish in the WAC, and the program's first bowl game in a dozen years.

While Kragthorpe seems to be steadily improving the depth and talent on the roster, plenty of holes remain for the 2005 squad. The quarterback situation remains unsettled. There isn't much experience at wide receiver. The defensive line is up for grabs. And three starters must be replaced in the secondary.

If that's not enough to deal with, the Golden Hurricane is leaving the WAC for Conference USA, joining Houston, Rice, SMU, UTEP and Tulane in the West Division. What it means this season is that the Golden Hurricane will play just three opponents (SMU, Rice and UTEP) that it played a season ago.