Previewing the Nebraska Game...
Date: Saturday, October 19, 1996
Tech Puts Home Win Streak on Line Texas Tech (4-2, 3-1) puts its 11-game home winning streak on the line against the fourth-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-1, 2-0) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in front of an expected capacity crowd at Jones Stadium (50,500). The last time Texas Tech lost a game at home was a 42-16 loss to top-ranked Nebraska on Sept. 8, 1994 on an ESPN national Thursday night telecast. The longest winning streak since 1960 was 11 games in 1973-74. The Tech school record home win streak is 13 straight games from 1939-42.
Nebraska is coming off a 49-0 Big 12 Conference victory over Baylor last Saturday in Lincoln. The Huskers rolled to 491 yards rushing and gained a season-high 669 yards of total offense, while limiting the Bears to just 117 yards. Since a 19-0 loss at Arizona State, Nebraska has outscored its past three opponents -- Colorado State, Kansas State and Baylor -- 153-12.
Last Week The Red Raider defense converted two fourth quarter interceptions into touchdowns and added a safety late in the game to record a 30-17 come-from-behind Big 12 win at Kansas. Junior Tony Darden intercepted a KU pass deflected by Dane Johnson with 8:22 left in the game and KU holding a 17-14 advantage. Tech quarterback Zebbie Lethridge scored a TD on a qb keeper to give the Raiders a 21-17 lead. On the next series, senior linebacker Anthony Armour intercepted a pass at the KU 27 yard line and, again, Lethridge ran it in from one yard away for a 28-17 lead. With 3:01 left on the clock, KU quarterback Ben Rutz intentionally grounded the ball in the end zone for a safety and the game's final 30-17 margin.
Junior tailback Byron Hanspard was limited to his second-lowest output of the season with 194 yards, his 12th-straight game to surpass 100 yards rushing. He also added 32 yards receiving and one TD. Highly-touted Kansas running back June Henley was limited to just 43 yards on 22 carries, while the KU offense was only able to muster 61 yards on the ground.
"We had a stigma of not being able to win against good teams on the road. Thank goodness we've gotten over that now." -- Coach Spike Dykes reflecting on Tech's win at Kansas.
Television/Radio The game will be televised regionally by ABC Sports through the Big 12 Conference television agreement. It will mark the first appearance by the ABC Network in Jones Stadium since the Texas A&M contest on Oct. 2, 1993. Mark Jones will handle the play-by-play, while John Spagnola will serve as color analyst and Dean Blevins will provide sideline reports.
All Sports Radio Network is in its second year of broadcasting Texas Tech football on a network of 25 stations. KKAM/KFMX in Lubbock serves as the flagship station and veteran Jack Dale will return at play-by-play and John Harris will offer color commentary. KKAM will begin its pregame show three hours before kickoff, while KFMX will begin 45 minutes prior to gametime. KKAM will also broadcast postgame shows with each game. Game broadcasts can also be accessed live via Teamline at 800/846-4700, ext. 1752 or via the Internet through the Texas Tech web site at http://www.ttu.edu
Last Meetings Texas Tech and Nebraska first meet on the gridiron in the 18th Annual Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl in front of 48,618 fans at the Astrodome on Dec. 31, 1976. The '76 Southwest Conference co-champion Red Raiders entered the game with a 10-1 record, while Nebraska was 8-3-1. With the Huskers leading 27-24 with 9:04 in the game, Rodney Allison, the game's offensive MVP, drove the Red Raiders to the NU 20 yard-line. Tech kicker Brian Hall missed a 37-yard FG wide right that would have tied the game. Nebraska qb Vince Ferragamo threw for 183 yards and running back Richard Berns ran for 118 yards to lead the Huskers. Tech was led by Allison's 193 yards passing and 89 yards rushing.
In 1993, a Robert Hall-to-Bruce Hill 36-yard swing pass quieted the 75,771 NU fans in Lincoln as the Red Raiders took a 21-20 lead midway through the third quarter. However, the Huskers rallied for 17 points in three-and-one-half minutes to help seal a 50-27 win. Hall passed for 169 yards and three TDs in the game, while running back Byron Morris rushed for 114 yards and one TD. NU was led by 206 yards passing by Tommie Frazier and Lawrence Phillips rushed for 81 yards on 14 carries. The Raider defense held Nebraska to three yards or less on 51 of its 88 plays.
The 1994 game was played in front of the ESPN Thursday night cameras and the top-ranked Huskers ended Tech's six-game regular-season win streak with a 42-16 victory. After trailing 14-3 at the half, Tech took the second-half kickoff and marched 80 yards on nine plays and a Zebbie Lethridge to Scott Aylor six-yard TD pass brought the Red Raiders to within 14-9. However, NU drove twice for 82 yards for TDs and put the game out of reach. NU rolled to 612 yards of total offense in the game and held Tech to 297.
A couple of series notes:
* Rodney Allison's 65.2 completion percentage on 15-for-23 passing in the 1977 Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl remains a Texas Tech bowl record. In the same game, David Kuykendall also launched a Tech bowl-record 61-yard punt.
* Senior Ben Kaufman is the only current Red Raider that has scored a TD against Nebraska after recovering a fumble in the end zone in the 1994 contest. QB Zebbie Lethridge came off the bench to throw a TD toss to Scott Aylor.
Dykes Becoming Mr. October Head coach Spike Dykes has compiled an impressive 40-15-1 record after October 10 while at Texas Tech. Since 1993, Dykes' teams have recorded a 17-3-0 record after Oct. 10. This season, Tech is 1-0 and has three games left to play at home.
During Tech's current 11-game home win streak, attendance has averaged 37,786 and over the past seven games, attendance has averaged 40,923.
During the streak, Texas Tech is 2-0 against ranked teams in Jones Stadium, a 33-9 win over No. 19 Texas in '94 and a 14-7 win over No. 8 Texas A&M in 1995.
Tech has also averaged a 24.7-point margin of victory during the last 11 games in Jones Stadium and has averaged 38.5 points per game.
Streaks Tech currently holds a 11-game home winning streak dating back to a 42-16 loss to top-ranked Nebraska on Sept. 8, 1994 on a nationally-televised Thursday night ESPN contest...
Byron Hanspard recorded his 12th-straight rushing game over 100 yards against Kansas. He has also rushed for over 200-yards in four of his last five games and six of his last eight outings...
Texas Tech has won its last two games at home against nationally-ranked opponents, dating back to the 42-16 loss to top-ranked Nebraska in 1994...
Redshirt freshman Sammy Morris has rushed for at least one TD in his last three outings...
Texas Tech has won eight-straight games over conference opponents at home since a 1993 loss to Texas A&M in Jones Stadium. That does not include two conference games against Houston (San Antonio) and Oklahoma State (Irving) that were Tech home games moved to neutral sites.
Texas Tech has played its last two games on television and has played seven of its last eight games on television, including two ABC regional network apperances, and two national cable appearances on ESPN and ESPN2.
Kaufman Anchors Offensive Line As a three-year starter, senior offensive lineman Ben Kaufman has probably played more snaps at Texas Tech than any player to wear a Red Raider uniform. And he has become, perhaps, the top offensive lineman in the Big 12 Conference. Offensive line coach Ted Unbehagen has stated that Kaufman is "easily one of the best offensive lineman in the Big 12. If there is an all-Big 12 team that doesn't include Ben Kaufman, they shouldn't choose one."
The Texas Tech offensive line has gone through a few changes over the past few weeks. Only Kaufman at left tackle and Jay Pugh at center have started all six games at the same position. Lynn Scherler has moved into the starting right tackle position for the last five games; Shane Dunn has started four games at right guard, two others at left guard. Chris Whitney has started three different positions -- one game at right tackle, two games at right guard and the last three at left guard; Justin Collingsworth moved from backup at left tackle to right tackle.
The revamped lineup first played as a unit against Oklahoma State and led the way for Byron Hanspard's school-record 272 yards rushing. The line also voted to award Unbehagen the game ball following the victory. Including OSU, the lineup has led the way for Hanspard to rush for over 200 yards in four of his last five games.
Robert Johnson Defies Critics Senior strongside linebacker Robert Johnson continues to toss his 194-pound frame into play-after-play this season on the Red Raider defense. Tech's leading tackler with 63 total stops in six games, Johnson had perhaps his best game as a Red Raider against Utah State. The Lubbock native intercepted two Aggie passes and recovered a fumble and led the Red Raiders to a 58-20 win in their home opener in Jones Stadium. Two of his caused turnovers were converted into third-quarter TD's extending Tech's lead from 28-20 to 42-20. He was named the Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
"I don't know if we have ever had anyone play as well as Robert Johnson played here against Utah State. It was unbelievable what he did. He is quite a football player and he really played his best game since he's been at Texas Tech. He was all over the field," said Dykes.
Johnson is the team's leading tackler with 63 in the first six games this season. He has 34 solo tackles, four tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries. He registered 11 tackles at Kansas last weekend.
Daniels Making Up For Lost Time One of the few players in the Big 12 that can literally alter an offensive gameplan, junior All-America candidate Tony Daniels is making a strong bid to be included as one of the top defensive linemen in the nation. In the first six games, the Odessa native has recorded an outstanding nine tackles for loss.
Against Georgia he had a key stuff of quarterback Mike Bobo on an option play that caused a key fumble at the Tech eight-yard-line that ended a potential go-ahead Bulldog score early in the game. Against Oklahoma State, Daniels had three tackles for loss. His play against Kansas was a key to Tech's defensive success to limit KU to just 61 yards rushing.
Daniels sat out the entire 1995 season after a freak injury diving into a pool prior to preseason drills. After undergoing reconstructive surgery on his knee, the Odessa native used the '95 season to focus on his comeback.
Hanspard Regains National Rushing Lead With his impressive 194-yard effort against Kansas, junior Heisman Trophy candidate Byron Hanspard regained his national rushing lead with a 217 yards-per-game average. Against Baylor, Hanspard had become the first back in the nation to pass the 1,000-yard mark this season. He has also gone over 1,000 yards in fewer games than any back in Tech history. Hanspard passed the 1,000-yard mark in the first five games, while Byron Morris in 1993 and James Hadnot in 1978 and 1979 achieved the mark during the eighth game of the season.
The Heisman Trophy and Doak Walker Award candidate is averaging a whopping 7.3 yards per carry and has surpassed the 200-yard barrier in four of his last five games and in six of his last seven. He has rushed for over 100 yards in 12 straight games. Hanspard recorded a 287-yard school-record outing against Baylor. (see Hanspard Bio)
The junior from DeSoto is the third-leading returning scorer in the nation this season, after averaging 9.82 points per game last season. A preseason All-America selection, Hanspard averaged 223 yards per game in his final three games of last season, including 260 yards against Air Force in the Copper Bowl, where he was named the game's MVP. He rushed for 1,374 yards last season, the second-best sophomore performance in the Southwest Conference's 82-year history. He also led the team with 35 catches for 474 yards.
Hanspard's Career Stats Rush Yds Avg TDs Rec Yds Avg TDs 1994 173 761 4.4 5 11 230 20.9 1 1995 248 1374 5.5 11 35 474 13.5 7 1996 180 1306 7.3 9 13 146 10.7 1 Total 601 3441 5.7 25 59 850 14.4 9
Diminutive Mitchell One of Nation's Smallest Starting junior flanker Stacy Mitchell, who stands 5-5, 150-pounds, is the third smallest player in Division I football this season. The DeSoto native is also a key kickoff returner for the Red Raiders and is a major threat on the ground after the catch. Mitchell overcame an early-season sprained ankle last season, starting the final five games and catching a 47-yard pass against Texas, and a 38-yard TD against Air Force in the Copper Bowl He also had a 49-yard run on a reverse against Rice. Mitchell recorded three catches for 69 yards against Kansas State.
Lethridge A Double QB Threat Junior quarterback Zebbie Lethridge is listed among the top-five on the school charts for career passing yards, pass attempts, pass completions, total offense and TD passes. Last year he set a final Southwest Conference record with 211 consecutive passes without an interception, which will stand as the all-time SWC mark. Last season Lethridge recorded the most prolific sophomore season ever for a Red Raider with 1,885 passing yards, 22 total TDs and 2,022 yards in total offense.
Lethridge's Career Stats Att Comp Pct Yds Int TD Eff Rush Yds Avg. TD 1994 261 132 .506 1596 6 12 112.0 110 289 2.6 6 1995 281 136 .484 1885 6 13 115.7 122 137 1.1 9 1996 145 63 .434 771 4 6 70 197 2.8 0 Total 687 331 .482 4252 15 30 302 623 2.1 15
Greaser Ties School Record Sophomore kicker Jaret Greaser tied a school record with four field goals against Oklahoma State and converted five-straight attempts this season, including a 53-yarder at Kansas State. He made attempts of 40, 40, 42 and 37 yards against the Cowboys to tie the mark held by five players on seven occasions, the most recent by Lin Elliott against Cal State, Fullerton in 1991. Greaser, a native of Amarillo, connected on a 59-yarder as a high school senior in 1993. Greaser narrowly missed a 54-yard game-tying field goal with just :07 on the clock at Georgia on the wet Sanford Stadium grass. He is 7-for-10 this season.
Junior Tony Rogers and Greaser both nailed 53-yard field goals at Kansas State, tying the sixth-longest effort in Texas Tech history. Both kicks also were the longest for a Texas Tech kicker since Ricky Gann hit a 55-yarder against Houston in 1984.
For the first time in the award's history, two kickers from the same team were honored with the AT&T Long Distance award when Texas Tech's Jaret Greaser and Tony Rogers both connected on 53-yard field goals at Kansas State. In honor of the accomplishment, AT&T has donated $400 to the NCAA's Degree-Completion Scholarship Program and each player will be awarded an engraved plaque in recognition of the achievement.
Hernandez Wins AT&T Long Distance Award Junior punter Jeremy Hernandez, with is 53.3-yard punting average against Baylor, was the recipient of the weekly AT&T Long Distance Award given to the nation's best punting average in a single game. Hernandez is currently averaging 44.0 yards per punt and has been among the national leaders all season. Hernandez was awarded the starting job during the pregame warm-ups for the first game of the season at Kansas State. At that point, Dykes had not named a permanent starter.
Darden Looking For... Quadfecta? Junior Tony Darden intercepted the first pass of his career as a defensive back against OSU and achieved the first of a unique hat trick in the process. With an interception return for a TD, he would achieve a rare quadruple: A TD rushing, passing, receiving and by interception. During his career, Darden has thrown a pass, caught a pass and has now intercepted a pass. He has also thrown for, rushed for and caught a touchdown. He caught his second interception of the year against Utah State and third at Kansas.
Darden came to Texas Tech in 1993 as one of the most celebrated quarterbacks in the Texas high school record books. At San Antonio's Holmes High School, Darden became the state's third-leading TD passer with 45 as a senior in 1992. He threw for 3,235 yards and had at least two TD passes in every game.
After redshirting in 1993, Darden switched to the receiver position midway through his freshman season after competing at quarterback with current starter Zebbie Lethridge. Last season an ankle injury slowed his progress after he started the first five games. He caught seven passes for 47-yards in the Copper Bowl. Last spring, Darden moved to cornerback and is the starting left slot.
Defense Despite losing five starters from last season, the Tech defense has risen to the occasion this season. Coordinator John Goodner's squad is ranked 9th nationally in rushing defense and limited Kansas rushing threat June Henley to just 43 yards on 22 carries. Prior to the 4th quarter of the Georgia contest, the Tech defense had not allowed an offensive TD in nine-straight quarters of play, dating back to the Kansas State 2nd quarter. In addition, Tech had not allowed an opponent to convert a fourth-down this season until late in the Georgia game.
Texas Tech's defense returns six starters in 1996 as well as junior Tony Daniels. Last year the Red Raider defense finished third nationally in pass efficiency, 19th in turnover margin and 24th in scoring defense. Over the last two-plus seasons, Tech's defense has converted 11 turnovers into touchdowns. Last season the Tech defense averaged almost 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage per game.
Scovell Pursuing Medical Career Tech's second-leading receiver in 1995 with 16 catches for 303 yards, Field Scovell graduated last spring with a 3.699 grade point average in finance. The two-time GTE Academic All-District VI selection is taking undergraduate courses this fall in preparation for medical school. He missed Tech's first scrimmage during two-a-days to take the medical school entrance examination (MCAT). He caught TD passes against Baylor and Utah State and is averaging 15.7 yards per catch. He also completed his first career pass on a successful fake field goal toss to Sammy Morris against KSU.
Butkus Candidate Armour Continues To Make Key Plays Senior weakside linebacker Anthony Armour, who has been included among the list of preseason candidates for the Butkus Award given by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando, Fla. to the nation's outstanding collegiate linebacker, missed the Baylor contest due to a knee sprain suffered against Utah State. However, he rebounded against Kansas with a key interception and five total tackles. He has 241 total tackles in his career, including 17 for loss and six sacks.
The list will be trimmed to 10 semifinalists on Oct. 17 and the three finalists will be announced on Nov. 14. Armour, a graduate of Dallas' Carter High School, is starting at has third position at Texas Tech during his career. Last season he led the defensive line with 55 tackles at the end position and caused three fumbles. He redshirted 1994 after undergoing knee surgery following a sophomore season in which he was 10th in the SWC in tackles with 91 at outside linebacker.