Transfer Green settling in at Tulsa
CHARLESTON -- You might call 2012 the year of the transfer quarterback.
Tulsa's game notes list about 30 quarterbacks known to have started for two different Division I-AA/FBS teams. Of those, six starters of this year are listed.
Those are Dayne Crist of Kansas (from Notre Dame), Garrett Gilbert of Southern Methodist (from Texas), Ryan Katz of San Diego State (from Oregon State), Robert Marve of Purdue (hurt for Marshall game, from Miami) and Danny O'Brien of Wisconsin (from Maryland).
And Cody Green, who started four games at Nebraska. Won 'em all, too, beating Baylor and Oklahoma in 2009 and Iowa State and Colorado in 2010.
Now, after sitting out 2011, Green has taken over Tulsa's perennially explosive offense, and will try to provide some fireworks at Marshall's homecoming game. Kickoff time is 3:30 p.m. at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, with CBS Sports Network airing the game.
Green, a 6-foot-2, 247-pound junior, is assigned with continuing Tulsa's ultra-productive line of quarterbacks - Paul Smith (2003-07), David Johnson (2005-08) and G.J. Kinne (2009-11). Those three combined for 24,939 passing yards and 212 touchdowns.
And a slew of victories. The Golden Hurricane is 75-45 overall since 2003, and 42-16 in Conference USA play since entering the league in 2005. The latter is the second-best mark since realignment, a half-game behind Houston.
Green split from Nebraska after the 2010 season, when offensive coordinator Shawn Watson left coach Bo Pelini's staff for Louisville. Green said the offensive philosophy changed under new coordinator Tim Beck, triggering his search for a new home.
That brought Green about seven hours south to Tulsa, the little private school with the big offensive numbers. He sat out the 2011 season per the NCAA's transfer rule, but didn't need the entire year to get accustomed to the program's skill players.
Half the fun is counting them, it seems.
"Looking at schools, you want to find somewhere that fits everything you do," Green said Wednesday. "I really couldn't pass up a chance to play here at Tulsa. We can throw the ball around quite a bit, plus have a great coaching staff and really, the talent here, I couldn't pass that up."
With Tulsa's running attack going at 245 yards a game and 5.5 per carry, Green doesn't have to launch near as many passes as his predecessors. He has thrown for 1,041 yards and nine touchdowns, with his best game being a 274-yard effort against Tulane. He has positive yards rushing, but just 49 in 21 carries, with a score.
"This kid picked it up. [He's] doing the same things," said Marshall defensive coordinator Chris Rippon." A little bit different, more of a thrower than the runner that they've had. Their backs are as good as any backs we have seen. They are big-league, big-league backs.
"[Ja'Terian Douglas] and [Trey Watts] are like our guys [Steward Butler and Kevin Grooms], I think. A very similar 'wow' every time they touch it."
Douglas and Watts, and a sturdy effort from C-USA's top defense, helped Green gut it out in the Hurricane's 27-26 win over Fresno State. Green's three interceptions all led to touchdowns, putting Tulsa in a 26-17 pickle with 12:33 left in the third quarter. One field goal and a half-back option pass later, Green was off the hook.
Fresno's defense had a bit to do with it, but Green was still feeling the rust - even in the fourth game.
"To not play, not really step on the field in two years, and then be expected to throw the ball 30, 40 times a game and be very accurate with it," Green said. "It's a totally different thing between practice and game speed - you can't simulate game speed in practice.
"It has been rust that I had to knock off, just because I have to teach receivers what I'm looking for and really understanding how they're going to run routes, along with reading defenses."
But Green fought through that result, then went 23-of-39 for 237 yards and two touchdowns at Alabama-Birmingham. That was a game in which Tulsa needed every point, winning 49-42. He led four touchdown drives of 70-plus yards.
"He never held his head down. [He] realized he might have made some mistakes, but he doesn't put them on other people," Watts said. "He's just a true quarterback, a true leader and I think that helps our offense so much, knowing we have a guy we have confidence in, has confidence in himself to make all the plays, all the throws. It just helps our offense to have a guy like that who we can trust him."
With an 8-1 mark at two schools, he seems worthy of that trust.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or following him at twitter.com/dougsmock.