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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, October 19, 2001

Injuries hurting 1-4 Hurricane

 •  Ferd Lewis: Warriors like Tulsa's turf
 •  Warriors want to keep WAC hopes alive

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

TULSA, Okla. — There was a reason Tulsa's quarterback threw like a 41-year-old man during yesterday's practice.

Tulsa coach Keith Burns says his team is "definitely struggling right now."

Tulsa photo

Keith Burns is 41.

He also is the Hurricane's head football coach. Because of depth problems, Burns volunteered to serve as the scout quarterback against the Hurricane's defense in preparation for tomorrow's game against Hawai'i.

Scout team members are distinguished by the yellow wrap (resembling a shower cap) on their helmets. Burns did not have a helmet, and wore the yellow wrap on his head.

"Right now," Burns said before practice, "we're an injured football team."

Burns said starting quarterback Tyler Gooch will not play because of a deep bruise on his right ankle. Gooch has not practiced this week.

Starting tailback Eric Richardson has a pinched nerve. The Hurricane's three best defensive players — bandit Chad Smith, rover Keithan McCorry and cornerback Chad Scott — are out with injuries.

Tulsa, which had set a goal of a winning season, is 1-4.

"We're definitely struggling right now," said Burns, in his second season as Tulsa coach, "but we're not going to spend a whole lot of time worrying about it."

Tulsa faced several obstacles entering this season. Of the 81 scholarship players, 67 — and 15 starters — are true freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores. There are 12 seniors.

"We're a young team, and sometimes you go through some difficult times," Burns said. "For us, it's just the injury bug has hit."

Still, Burns has implored his players not to lose focus.

"We have to continue to stick to the plan," he said. "What happens, I think, is if you get away from the plan, panic sets in and you have some problems. We have to continue to coach hard. We have to continue to prepare our players well. Our players have come every day with great effort and great attitude. I think that's why we have a chance to finish this out and have some success."

Meanwhile, Burns is building for the future. Although Oklahoma dominates in local recruiting, Tulsa has managed to beat Oklahoma State in several recruiting battles, including the signing of Gooch.

"We're upbeat kind of guys," Burns said of his coaching staff. "We didn't take this job thinking it was going to be easy. We knew off the bat we had to dig in and dig deep. It was a situation where it was going to require a lot of hard work. You have to remain positive. The best thing we have is our attitude."

• • •

2001 UH schedule

  • Sept. 8: UH 30, Montana 12
  • Sept. 22: Nevada 28, UH 20
  • Sept. 29: Rice 27, UH 24
  • Oct. 6: UH 38, at SMU 31 (OT)
  • Oct. 13: UH 66, UTEP 7
  • Tomorrow: at Tulsa, 9 a.m.
  • Oct. 26: Fresno St., 4:05 p.m.
  • Nov. 3: San Jose State
  • Nov. 10: Boise State
  • Nov. 17: Miami (Ohio)
  • Nov. 24: Air Force
  • Dec. 8: Brigham Young (moved from Dec. 1), 11 a.m.