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From the Other Side: Talking Tulsa with Kelly Hines



With Oklahoma State set to open their season against Tulsa this Thursday, I thought it would be a good idea to get the scoop on the Golden Hurricane from someone who knows them well.

Kelly Hines covers TU athletics for the Tulsa World, and does a great job of it. She used to cover OSU for the paper, which is when I started following her work. She was kind enough to answer some questions about this week’s opponent.

I’ve included the audio at the bottom for the full chat, which you can listen to and hit some of the highlights below.

Phillip Slavin: Which player on offense do you think OSU should know about on the offensive side?

Kelly Hines: Probably D’Angelo Brewer.


He’s the top returning rusher from a team that excelled running the ball last season. He’s a guy that they are going to rely on pretty heavily, especially in this first game given the inexperience at quarterback, and some inconsistency at receiver.

I think the run game is going to be where things start and for the guy who this is his senior season, he’s a local kid from Tulsa, and he has a chance to leave as the all-time rusher in TU history. He kind of got a little overshadowed last season by the emergence of James Flanders, which I don’t think any of us saw coming.

PS: At last check, TU still had not named a starting quarterback. Who do you think starts this Thursday?

KH: I go back and forth. I thought for most of the spring and most of the preseason that ultimately the quarterback would be Luke Skipper. A guy who redshirted last season, a guy who was kind of under the radar recruiting wise because he didn’t really go to any camps before his senior season. TU, like a lot of coaching staffs, are not going to offer a kid just based on his highlights, especially being from a smaller town in Texas.

He was just a little under-the-radar, but TU got in on him, and that was by far his best offer. I think he has a lot of potential. The key word there is “potential.” He hasn’t played in a game yet so I think that it’s still going to be a work in progress with him.

He has the better arm of the two contenders, Chad President is the other one. I think that Chad will, if I had to guess today, will start the game because he does have some experience having played in six games as a true freshman in 2015. He played in the opener last season but had a season-ending injury. Both of those guys are dual-threat guys, but Chad does not have the arm strength that Luke Skipper has.

Where he makes up for that is he has a really high football IQ. The system that his high school ran, Temple High School in Texas is very similar to what TU runs. Phil Montgomery started recruiting him when he was a sophomore in high school, when Phil was at Baylor.

I really believe TU has not decided what they’re going to do. I asked Coach Montgomery the other day if he’s ever been in a situation like this in all his years of coaching and he said, the season opener when he was at Houston, I think it was 2007, Houston was playing at Oregon, and they didn’t decide until after pre-game warm-up.

So it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s the direction they go with this game. I don’t expect an announcement until maybe Tuesday, Wednesday, maybe Thursday at the earliest, but I really think they’re just going to wait until the game.”

PS: The offense lost a good number of starters, especially last year’s starting quarterback, but with Montgomery’s system designed in a way that production seems to come naturally, how much of a drop off do you expect production-wise this season?

KH: I think it just depends. I think having four or five starters back on the offensive line that was pretty much dominant last season in the American Athletic Conference, by far the best unit there. They did lose one starter, but the guys who’s replacing him has played a lot of games so they’re definitely fine up front.

As I mentioned, the receivers are a little inconsistent at this point, so it may not come down to the sort of offense that everyone is used to seeing from Tulsa. It may not be those explosive 70 yard passes, I don’t know if they can do that early in the season.

PS: Turning to the defense, if there is a guy who might be able to disrupt OSU’s offense, who would that be?

KH: I would say the best defensive player is Jesse Brubaker.


He’s a guy who has had a lot of experience on the defensive line. He’s a defensive end now and he’s going to try and put a lot of pressure on Mason Rudolph, and try to harass him and make his evening difficult. I would say that’s the guy to definitely keep a look out for. Jesse is kind of the leader of the defense. He’s the best player, the most consistent playmaker. I would say any amount of success TU has against OSU defensively is going to start with him.

PS: OSU has a lot of depth at receiver. Who in Tulsa’s secondary might actually pose a challenge to OSU?

KH: I think that there’s a lot of high expectations for Manny Bunch, the safety who played last year as a true freshman. Mostly on special teams, but he also contributed in the secondary. He’s been the kind of break-out player throughout the spring and preseason. I fully expect him to lead the team in interceptions. He had two interceptions in TU’s last scrimmage, though that was kind of suspect quarterback play. He’s going to be a good player, he’s still young, still a little inexperienced. He’s definitely a guy to keep an eye on.

TU’s cornerbacks have not been great in the last few years, but they return everyone for this season and I think they’re going to be better than they were last season. But, this game is obviously going to be a huge test, and I think it’s just going to be be really difficult to have success against OSU’s offense.”

PS: What would Tulsa need to do to stay in this game into the fourth quarter?

KH: I would say probably just had a really complete performance running the ball. I think that’s probably the most realistic outcome of TU having success. I don’t think that they’re going to be throwing it all over field, just given the situation with the quarterbacks and the receivers. I think that so much hinges on the run game, not just in the opener, but for the whole season.

They’re just going to try and make life difficult for Mason Rudolph and see where it goes. I would have to say, it would have to be maybe be a shootout late into the game for it to be close.

PS: What are you most excited to see this Thursday?

KH: I’m just excited about having a game to cover. The preseason is just so long. I’ve been to pretty much every practice up to this point. I have great access at TU to where I can watch practice, and it’s great to have that access. Watching practice gets old, I just want to see a game. I’m honestly really glad that this game is on a Thursday, we don’t have to wait that much longer. At some point I’m going to start counting down the hours. I just want to see some football.

PS: Final score prediction?

KH: I’m going to need more time to think about that. I think it’s going to be closer than people might think. I would say a really good showing for TU would be to keep it within 14 to 17 points. I think that that would be a really good performance with TU’s inexperience. So I’m going to look for it to be somewhere in that range.

We talked about some other things, including which TU receiver will be the best by the end of the year, the relationship between TU defensive end Jesse Brubaker and OSU receiver Marcel Ateman, and her take on Gundy now compared to when she used to cover him. It was a great interview, and if you have 23 minutes, I suggest taking the time to listen. (Not because of anything I had to say).You can listen to the full interview below.

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