TULSA– The temperature on the turf at H.A. Chapman Stadium reached the highest it had been this preseason camp during a practice session when it registered at 101-degrees on the thermometer with 48-percent humidity.
Tulsa practiced for 90 minutes with a focus on special teams this morning.
“We put a strong emphasis on our special teams today,” said Montgomery. “We were able to get a lot of good drill work done and got some things set in stone. It’s a day we really needed. With the rule changes that we’ve had in college football the last few years, it’s difficult to get everything in. It was a good day for us.”
“We’ve had several days of banging on each other the last couple days, and this was a day we could lighten that type of load and focus in on the drill work and the technique part of special teams. We were able to get in a lot of good work,” added Montgomery.
Tulsa will reach the two-week mark of fall camp as the Hurricane is back on the practice field Friday morning for practice No. 13.
Just as important as any aspect of the game is the special teams, and Thursday’s practice was focused on the various aspects of special teams – return and coverage on both kicks and punts.
“I tell our guys that sixty-percent of the yardage accrued in a football game comes from the special teams, whether you’re flipping the field or keeping the field position in another way for your offense or defense is critical,” said Tulsa special teams coach Calvin Lowry.
Thomas Bennett returns as Tulsa’s punter, while Adam Higuera (6-1, 223) will be back as Tulsa’s deep snapper. Bennett averaged 42.3 yards on 61 punts with 11 50+ yard punts and 16 landing inside the 20-yard line.
“Thomas did a great job for us last year. The biggest thing this year is consistency from him, and really a lot of that is where we want the ball to go. He’s done a great job with that and he’s continuing to work on it. He’s sped up his transition time. He’s gotten stronger, a year older, and obviously he’s got a lot of pop coming off his foot,” said Montgomery.
Tulsa has a handful of kickers competing to replace the school’s all-time scoring leader Redford Jones as Tulsa’s field goal, PAT and kickoff specialist. Vying to replace Jones are seniors Nate Walker and Tristan Lacey and newcomers John Parker Romo, Kevin Neitzke and Jacob Rainey.
Walker was second on the depth chart behind Jones the past two seasons, while Lacey has also added depth.
“We have good competition at placements and kickoffs,” said Montgomery. “I think two guys are leading it. It comes down to consistency and that’s the thing Red (Redford Jones) provided for us. He had a great leg and great range, but it still goes back to being able to walk out there when we need it, in clutch time.”
“For those guys we’re trying to put them in situations like that, we did it at the end of practice yesterday in a hurry-up field goal type situation and they handled that well. We’ll continue to keep the competition going, but I feel confident that we’ll be good in that area and have a couple guys that can handle the job,” added Montgomery.
Montgomery has also been pleased at this early juncture with the options at the return positions.
“I think we have some good options. We have a couple of guys who have experience doing it. We’ll go through the process and see how it plays out,” said Montgomery.