Senior Dane Evans doesn't have to search far for motivation in Tulsa.
All he needs to do is look at his head coach's stable of previous prized quarterbacks to see the possibilities that await him during his final season at Tulsa:
- Bryce Petty (Baylor): 2013 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year
- Nick Florence (Baylor): 2012 NCAA All-American
- Robert Griffin III (Baylor): 2011 Heisman Trophy Winner
- Case Keenum (Houston): 2008-09 Conference USA MVP
- Kevin Kolb (Houston): 2006 Conference USA MVP
Mighty fine stock if you ask me.
Dane Evans is on pace to leapfrog the school's hierarchy of passers before season's end. Currently with 8,332 passing yards tucked away in his pocket, Evans sits comfortably in fourth place among past Tulsa Hurricane signal callers. He will pass #3 on the list T.J. Rubley (9,324) before conference play begins, then he'll begin to peck away at the top two in G.J. Kinney (9,472) and Paul Smith (10,936).
If the calculations are correct and Evans maintains last year's average of 333 yards per game, he should become Tulsa's all-time leading passer on the road at Memphis, who he coincidentally lit up for 421 yards going head-to-head against the NFL-bound and projected first round pick Paxton Lynch.
Worst case scenario is that he will break the record in front of his home crowd against East Carolina, who he had arguably his worst game of the season against last year.
Oh the drama.
Regardless of when or where Dane Evans becomes Tulsa's head honcho, rest assured, he has no plans of resting on his laurels.
The first order of business is putting the cart before the horse: Win the AAC-West Division.
That's a tall order for a Dane Evans-led passing attack with the likes of Houston, Navy and Memphis planning their own assault on the AAC.
It's feasible for the offense to do their part but maybe a tad difficult for Brian Norwood's defense who gave up the most rushing yards in nearly the entire FBS. Despite Evans losing his leading receiver Keyarris Garrett to the NFL, Keevan Lucas, Joshua Atkinson and Justin Hobbs all return licking their chops to pick up the production Garret left behind. The Catch-22 is that the defense must stop the run in order to prevent forcing Montgomery's offense to score 40-50 points a game, circa 2015.
Evans & Co. can make it happen, but shouldn't have to be bothered with that burden.
The second order of business is if Dane Evans somehow can't find a way to put the cart before the horse and win the ACC-West, well, the obvious next step is shove said horse up front before the cart where it belongs and win a bowl game.
After winning just 5 games in the two seasons prior to 2015, a six win Tulsa got a taste of the post-season, playing to a 52-55 loss against Virginia Tech in the Camping World Independence Bowl. No one, especially Dane Evans, will be content with a return trip to Shreveport. If Tulsa can't find a way to make it to the AAC Conference Championship game, their secondary goal of locking down that #3 or #4 slot in the conference most likely will get them a game in sunny Miami or a sweet matchup against a slumping SEC team.
Imagine a red hot Dane Evans squad taking down a mediocre (by SEC standards) Texas A&M or Auburn?
One thing is for sure, Phil Montgomery and Dane Evans paths crossed for a reason. Maybe he won't garnish votes for the Heisman like RGIII or play in big-time bowl games like Bryce Petty (Fiesta & Cotton), but Montgomery has Evans on a trajectory to obliterate the competition in 2016, much the same way his prized studs of the past steam rolled through defenses and rewrote the record books.....without mercy.