SMU to test new quarterback at Tulsa

Updated: October 24, 2003, 3:13 AM ET

TULSA, Okla. -- Tulsa coaches weren't looking for recruits when they called on high schools in Texas this week. They just wanted to know something about Chris Phillips.

The freshman quarterback is scheduled to make his collegiate debut for Southern Methodist at Skelly Stadium on Saturday.

The Mustangs, desperate to salvage a season that has sunk to 0-7 and 0-4 in the Western Athletic Conference, are counting on Phillips' athleticism to ignite the worst offense in the nation.

"I'm going to take the redshirt off and see if we can get something going," SMU coach Phil Bennett said.

Bennett had alternated between sophomore quarterbacks Richard Bartel and Tate Wallis but decided to replace them with Phillips after last week's 45-3 loss to Boise State. It was the first time SMU didn't score a touchdown this season.

Bartel, who started all but one game this season, was 68-of-151 with 693 yards, nine interceptions and four touchdowns. He now plans to transfer at the end of the semester.

"I figure we've got five games to get better and work into next year," Bennett said.

Tulsa (3-4, 1-2 WAC) spent the week trying to get to know SMU's new 6-3, 220-pound quarterback. Golden Hurricane coaches called on those of Phillips' old high school opponents in an attempt to measure his strengths.

"We will have to determine early in the game what their game plan is and how they are going to try to attack us," coach Steve Kragthorpe said.

Phillips threw for 1,951 yards, rushed for another 1,337 yards and totaled 45 touchdowns in leading Dallas Bishop Lynch to a 14-1 record and a Texas 5A private school championship as a senior.

"He's a multidimensional quarterback that can present a challenge to us," Kragthorpe said.

Bennett said Phillips is "athletically better" than either Bartel or Wallis.

The Mustangs rank last nationally in scoring and total offense, averaging 9.7 points and 250.9 yards per game. SMU's battered defense also has struggled this season, ranking 101st nationally in scoring and pass defense.

But Kragthorpe said he tempers the fact SMU hasn't won a game with the fact "they're playing pretty good teams."

The Golden Hurricane comes off a 28-21 loss to Nevada and is struggling against sluggish starts and mistakes that led to five turnovers last week.

But Kragthorpe said his team continues to improve in amassing its most wins since the 2000 season.

Uril Parrish, who completes a trio of Tulsa running backs seeing game time, turned in a career-best 148 yards and three touchdowns against the Wolf Pack. Parrish is not only hot, Kragthorpe said, "he's becoming a more complete back all the time."

"He's a tackle breaker," he said. "He's also got a quick enough step if he hits the line and sinks the ball into the line of scrimmage, he can bounce it back outside."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index