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C-USA football: Tulsa continues to rack up sacks

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Tulsa football team kept rolling last week with its sixth straight win, 33-11 over the University of Texas at El Paso, and did so wreaking havoc in UTEP's backfield.

The Golden Hurricane sacked Miners quarterbacks six times and recorded 10 tackles for loss.

Tulsa is No. 1 in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 33 sacks in seven games - Utah State is next closest with 27 this year - and the Golden Hurricane has allowed just four sacks against it.

That's a stat that even stuns Tulsa Coach Bill Blankenship.

"This is really a fascinating year in terms of us getting sacks and not giving up sacks," he said. "It's never been anything close to this, where you'd want to keep up with the numbers. And now it's pretty fascinating. It's almost like a turnover ratio. It's pretty positive.

"It's really a momentum stat. Usually, sacks result in the ends of drives. More often than not, they're on third down and that leads to a punt."

Linebacker DeAundre Brown earned three sacks himself versus UTEP and his eight in seven games ranks him eighth best in the FBS. Brown was named Conference USA defensive player of the week for that performance, one that came from the middle linebacker spot, a position that normally isn't a sack machine.

"(Tulsa defensive coordinator Brent Guy) does a great job of designing the blitz package to fit our guys," Blankenship said. "There are linebackers who are better blitzers than others. ... DeAundre has been so productive that it didn't matter if he is at (any of Tulsa's three linebacker positions). We're going to find a way to blitz him."

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL might be trending more toward high-tempo offenses that rattle off plays with reckless abandon - Marshall, for instance, has run 552 plays in six games, an average of 92 per game. But Central Florida has stuck with its pro-style offense.

The Knights are running an average of just 70 plays per game, but they're still sitting at 4-2 overall and 2-0 in Conference USA following their 38-31 double-overtime win over Southern Mississippi.

"It's become not the trade of the game but the tricks of the game," UCF Coach George O'Leary said. "It still comes down to can you block and can you tackle? You can do all of the quick huddle and everything else but eventually you got to block people and eventually you got to tackle people. I think what's happened is that they're counting on the defenses to get short-winded and having trouble subbing in."

O'Leary said teams will have problems initially with the newfangled aspects of the offense, but they'll get more comfortable as time goes on. It's happened in the past with other offensive innovations.

"On defense, back when the wishbone came out, everybody struggled with it the first year then they caught up with it," he said. "Now they're catching up with the spread. It's just that once it is on film, a good coach is going to see what you're doing and their major tendencies."

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TULANE FINALLY notched its first win, 27-26, over Southern Methodist, and gave Coach Curtis Johnson his first victory as a head coach. The Green Wave did things it hadn't all season, Johnson said, like goal-line stops and long touchdown drives.

It's been a trying season for Tulane. Safety Devon Walker remains in an in-patient rehabilitation facility after breaking his neck against Tulsa on Sept. 8.

But Tulane's resiliency is starting to pay off, Johnson said.

"One of the things that was said, even before I got here, was that these guys will quit," he said. "They'll quit. But they've never quit. It was tough sledding for a while there, but they never quit. They continued to play."

 Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.


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