Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson
Tulsa coach Todd Graham is being coy about naming a starting quarterback, not because he and his staff haven’t made a decision, but because the Golden Hurricane don’t want Tulane to know before kickoff.
“Every single person in that locker room knows who it is and so do we,” Graham said Monday during his weekly news conference. “There’s no reason for us to let anyone know that.”
G.J. Kinne, Jacob Bower and Shavodrick Beaver have been competing to replace senior David Johnson since the spring. Graham has given no hints about who the starting quarterback would be, though the Tulsa World did report that Kinne took the most reps last week.
Keeping the identity of the starting quarterback a secret makes the job of Tulane’s new defensive coordinator Steve Stanard that much more difficult. Although Tulsa has not changed its offense, all three of its quarterbacks bring different offensive looks to the field.
But unlike last season, Tulane said it’s not changing its defense to suit a certain team. It will be a 4-3 base and play to the strengths of its players rather than trying to adjust to the strengths of its competitors.
The Green Wave have gone away from man coverage and will play zone defense with some zone blitz to keep pressure on the quarterback. So far this preseason, the Green Wave have gotten more takeaways and are executing the basics better than they did last year.
“We tried to defend plays last year,” Tulane head coach Bob Toledo said. “We were so confused. ... Every week we’d change and we never knew what we were doing. ... Now they’re lining up and playing because a thinking player doesn’t react.”
The Tulane defense will have a lot to react to when it finally figures out who it’s defending. All three quarterbacks have great arms and Beaver adds a rushing element that Tulsa hasn’t had in past seasons under Graham.
Bower completed 11 of 15 passes last season for 138 yards and a touchdown. Kinne, a transfer from Texas, ended his high school career with 11,695 passing yards and 130 touchdowns. Beaver, a true freshman, totaled 9,050 career passing yards and 125 touchdowns while rushing for 2,450 yards and 22 touchdowns in high school.
“There are a lot of unknowns going into this first game,” Graham said. “They know what we’re going to do. We’re going to do what we’ve done in the past in all three phases. They have to prepare for more than one [quarterback] because our guys are so different, the three guys that we’re looking at. There’s no reason to give them any advantage.”