Previewing the Texas A&M Game....
Date: Saturday, October 26, 1996
Tech Looks To Rebound Against Aggies: Texas Tech (4-3, 3-2) will be looking to rebound from last weekend's heartbreaking loss when it travels to College Station to face the Aggies of Texas A&M (3-4, 1-2) in the fourth of a tough five-game stretch of conference opponents. Tech will be looking for its first win in College Station since a 30-12 decision in 1984, although the last three contests at Kyle Field have been decided by five points or less.
Junior Byron Hanspard will try to become the first Red Raider rusher to surpass 100 yards against the Aggies since Timmy Smith ran for 139 yards on 19 carries for a Tech series record in 1984.
Texas A&M is coming off of a 23-20 loss to then 21st-ranked Kansas State at home last weekend despite a 17-point second-half comeback and a 286-186 advantage in total offense. The Aggies were led by receiver Albert Connell's eight catches for 127 yards.
Last Week: Despite limiting the Nebraska offense to its second-lowest point total of the season, Texas Tech dropped a 24-10 decision to the fifth-ranked Huskers in front of a sold-out Family Day crowd of 51,344 fans and an ABC Television audience. "This may be the best team we have faced," said Nebraska's Tom Osborne, following the game. "They have a tough defense and a good offense with a lot of speed."
Junior running back Byron Hanspard kept his streak of 100-yard games in tact as he rushed for 107 yards on a 31 carries and moved into second on the Red Raider career rushing list. Senior linebacker Robert Johnson tied the game at seven apiece with a nine-yard interception return for a TD in the first quarter of the game. Both teams added a second quarter field goal and the score was tied at 10 each going into halftime. Tech forced five Nebraska turnovers in the game, just one less than its entire season total. The Red Raiders held the ball for 33:32 in the game, seven minutes more than Nebraska.
"They are the most physical team we have seen this season. It was a good dogfight all day." -- Nebraska linebacker Terrell Farley following the Tech/Nebraska contest.
Television/Radio: The game will be televised in regional syndication by Liberty Sports through the Big 12 Conference television agreement. Ron Thulin will handle the play-by-play, Steve Davis will offer color analysis and Brian Neuner will serve as the sideline reporter. Robert Steinfeld will produce and Kenny Miller will direct the telecast. Official kickoff time is scheduled for 11:38 a.m. Liberty will also air a 30-minute pregame show immediately prior to the telecast.
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
Series Records: The Texas Tech vs. Texas A&M series began with a 47-6 Aggie victory in 1927 in Lubbock, the third season of football for Tech and the 33rd for Texas A&M. Legendary coach D.X. Bible was the Aggie mentor at the time for the SWC champion Aggies, while E.Y. Freeland was in his pinultimate season for the Matadors, who finished with a 5-7 mark.
Texas A&M leads the series by a 31-22-1 margin and has won six of the last eight meetings since Spike Dykes took over his first full season in 1988. Texas Tech won last season's meeting by a 14-7 score on a dramatic last-minute interception return for a TD by All-America linebacker Zach Thomas with just :39 seconds left in the game at Jones Stadium. The eighth-ranked Aggies outgained Tech by a 347-261 margin in the game in front of 51,205 Red Raider partisans.
A few of the series records:
Team Highs Texas Tech Texas A&M Total Offense 431, 1987 522, 1986 Rushing 324, 1967 431, 1978 Passing 279, 1987 285, 1986 Team Lows Texas Tech Texas A&M Total Offense 169, 1993 149, 1983 Rushing 8, 1991 36, 1982 Passing 25, 1983 16, 1974 Individual Highs Texas Tech Texas A&M Total Offense 260 by Billy Joe Tolliver, 1987 253 by Edd Hargett, 1967 Rushing 139 by Timmy Smith, 1984 232 by Darren Lewis, 1990 Passing 272 by Billy Joe Tolliver, 1987 252 by Gary Kubiak, 1982
Dykes Becoming Mr. October: Head coach Spike Dykes has compiled an impressive 40-16-1 record after October 10 while at Texas Tech. Since 1993, Dykes' teams have recorded a 17-4-0 record after Oct. 10. This season, Tech is 1-1 and has four games left to play.
During Tech's past eight games at home, attendance has averaged 42,225 fans per game.
During its past 12 home games, Texas Tech owns an 11-1 record, and is 2-1 against ranked teams, including 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 its last 11 wins in Jones Stadium and has averaged 38.5 points per game.
Streaks: Tech's 11-game home winning streak dating back to a 42-16 loss to top-ranked Nebraska on Sept. 8, 1994 was ended with its 24-10 loss to fifth-ranked Nebraska last weekend...
Byron Hanspard recorded his 13th-straight rushing game over 100 yards against Nebraska. He has also rushed for over 200-yards in four of his last six games and six of his last nine outings...
Texas Tech has won two of its last three games at home against nationally-ranked opponents, dating back to the 42-16 loss to top-ranked Nebraska in 1994...
Texas Tech has won eight of its last nine 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 three games on television and has played eight of its last nine games on television, including three ABC regional network appearances, and two national cable appearances on ESPN and ESPN2.
Kaufman Anchors Under-Appreciated 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 seven games at the same position. Lynn Scherler has moved into the starting right tackle position for the last six games; Shane Dunn has started five 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 four at left guard; Justin Collingsworth moved from backup at left tackle to right tackle.
Senior captain Casey Jones returned to action for the first time this season against Nebraska after missing the first six games of the season in attempt to regain his eligibility. After exhausting all appeals through the school and the NCAA, Jones went to the court system. A Lubbock judge awarded a temporary restraining order clearing the way for Jones to play in a 14-day window and a date of October 30 was set to hear his case against the NCAA and Texas Tech.
Robert Johnson Continues to Provide Leadership: Senior strongside linebacker Robert Johnson continues to toss his 194-pound frame into play-after-play this season on the Red Raider defense. For his stellar performance against Nebraska, which included an interception for a TD, Johnson was awarded the ABC-TV Chevrolet Player of the Game.
Tech's leading tackler with 69 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 69 in the first seven games this season. He has 36 solo tackles, three interceptions, five tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries. He registered 11 tackles at Kansas last weekend.
Daniels Gaining National Attention: 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 seven 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.
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.
Hanspard Remains in National Awards Hunt: With his streak-extending 107-yard effort against Kansas, junior Heisman Trophy candidate Byron Hanspard retained the second spot in the nation in rushing with a 201.9 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 6.7 yards per carry and has surpassed the 200-yard barrier in four of his last six games and in six of his last eight. He has rushed for over 100 yards in 13 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 211 1413 6.7 9 14 149 10.6 1 Total 632 3548 5.6 25 60 853 14.2 9
Lethridge Continues to Move Up Tech Charts: 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 175 74 .423 883 4 6 83 190 2.3 2 Total 717 3423 .477 4364 15 30 315 618 2.0 17
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 8-for-12 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 42.4 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 18th nationally in rushing defense and limited Nebraska to almost half of their total rushing average last weekend. 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. Last season the Tech defense averaged almost 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage per game.
Texas Tech is listed no lower than 27th in any defense category nationally. The Red Raiders are 13th in turnover margin, 18th in rushing, 22nd in passing, 26th in scoring and 27th in total defense on the season following the Nebraska contest.
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.