Previewing the Southwestern Louisiana Game...
Date: Saturday, November 16, 1996
Seniors Take Jones Stadium Farewell Bow: Texas Tech (5-4, 4-3) steps out of Big 12 Conference action for its final home contest of the season against the Southwestern Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns (5-5) at 1 p.m. at Jones Stadium. The contest will mark the final home appearance in Jones Stadium for 19 Red Raider seniors, including eight starters (five offense, three defense).
Texas Tech can clinch its fourth-straight regular-season winning record and school-record fourth-straight bowl appearance with a win against USL. A win would also clinch the sixth bowl game in Spike Dykes' 10 seasons at Texas Tech. In addition, a crowd of at least 38,100 fans would set an all-time Texas Tech football attendance record.
Last Week: Despite a record-setting offensive outing against Texas, the Red Raiders dropped a 38-32 Big 12 Conference game to the Longhorns in front of the third-straight sellout in Jones Stadium last Saturday. The game showcased 1,183 total yards of offense, the most-ever combined total ever in Jones Stadium, as well as 70 total points, the second-highest total ever between Texas Tech and Texas.
After falling behind 28-3 in the second quarter, quarterback Zebbie Lethridge led a Tech comeback that saw the Red Raider quarterback complete two passes to Donnie Hart, an 86-yard TD and an 82-yard strike that just fell short of a score prior to the half. Tech outscored the 'Horns 29-10 down the stretch.
Television/Radio: 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.asrn.com.
There is no television coverage of the Texas Tech v. USL contest. However, Texas Tech will provide a satellite feed of highlights from 5-5:15 p.m. The coordinates are SBS 6, Transponder 6.
Series Records: Texas Tech and Southwestern Louisiana have only met once on the gridiron, with the Red Raiders claiming a 39-7 victory on Nov. 12, 1994 in the final game of the season in Jones Stadium. Following a Texas Tech open date, the Red Raiders rolled to 423 yards against the 16th-ranked defense of USL. Quarterback Zebbie Lethridge passed for 168 yards in the game, including a 33-yard TD strike to receiver Tony Darden to open the scoring in the first quarter. The win marked Tech's seventh in its last eight home games and clinched at least a split in non-conference games for the first time since 1989. Freshman Byron Hanspard led Tech in rushing with 79 yards on 20 carries.
Mr. October: Head coach Spike Dykes has compiled an impressive 41-17-1 record after October 10 while at Texas Tech. Since 1993, Dykes' teams have recorded a 18-5-0 record after Oct. 10. This season, Tech is 2-2 and has two games left to play.
During its past 13 home games, Texas Tech owns an 11-2 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 ...
Byron Hanspard recorded his 15th-straight rushing game over 100 yards against Texas. He also rushed for over 200-yards in four straight games earlier this season.
Texas Tech has won eight of its last 10 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 five games on television and has played 10 of its last 11 games on television, including three ABC regional network appearances, and three national cable appearances on Fox Sports, ESPN and ESPN2.
Tech on Pace to Set Attendance Record: With three-straight sellouts against Baylor, Nebraska and Texas and three of the top 10 crowds since 1983, fans have been attending Texas Tech football games in record numbers this season. The inaugural season of the Big 12 Conference, a Heisman Trophy candidate running back and and exciting football team have all contributed to the rise in interest in Texas Tech football. The expansion of Raider Alley and a number of interesting promotions have been factors as well.
This year, Tech has enjoyed a 22.6 percent increase in attendance over last season and its current average of 48,081 for the first four games exceeds the school record average of 46,083 set in 1979. That season, the Raiders played six home games and recorded two crowds in excess of 52,000. Last season, Tech recorded a 27 percent increase in football attendance, good for 7th in the nation and marked an average increase of 8,200 fans from the previous season.
Texas Tech has enjoyed an astounding 50.1 percent attendance increase over the past two seasons!
Possession -- Texas Tech: This season Texas Tech has maintained a substantial edge in time of possession in six of the nine games it has played. The only three games in which Tech did not enjoy an edge in possession time was Oklahoma State (31-3 win), Utah State (58-20 win) and Texas (38-32 loss). Tech has held the ball for over 44 total minutes more than the opposition this season. The Red Raiders have averaged a five minute edge in time of possession this season.
Veterans 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 this season. Only Kaufman at left tackle and Jay Pugh at center have started all nine games at the same position. Lynn Scherler has moved into the starting right tackle position for the last eight games; Shane Dunn has started five games at right guard, four others at left guard. Chris Whitney has started three different positions -- one game at right tackle, two games at right guard and the last six 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 injuction clearing the way for Jones to play.
Red Zone Kind To Red Raiders: Texas Tech has enjoyed a success rate inside the 20-yard line this season on both sides of the ball. The Red Raider offense has scored on 75 percent of its possessions in the "red zone", while limiting opponents to just a 66 percent success rate inside the 20-yard-line.
Robert Johnson Provides Leadership: "Pound-for-pound, Robert Johnson may be the best football player in the country" -- Liberty Sports analyst Ron Thulin during the Texas A&M vs. Texas Tech telecast
Senior strongside linebacker Johnson continues to toss his 194-pound frame into play-after-play this season. 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 89 total stops in nine 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. 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 89 in the first nine games this season. He has 50 solo tackles, three interceptions and five tackles for loss.
Dane Johnson Enters 1,000-Yard Club: Junior safety Dane Johnson has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for returns in his career. The Southlake native has 1,031 total yards in punt, kick and interception returns in his career. He was a preseason all-Big 12 selection at punt returner this season and has quietly been one of the leaders for the Red Raider defense.
Daniels Named Semifinalist for Nagurski Trophy: One of the few defensive players in the Big 12 that can alter an offensive gameplan, junior All-America candidate Tony Daniels is making a strong bid to be included as one of the top defensive performers in the nation. Daniels was recently named one of 23 semifinalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy given to the nation's top defensive player.
In the first nine games, the Odessa native has recorded an outstanding 10 tackles for loss, three sacks, four fumbles caused and four fumble recoveries. In Tech's 13-10 win at Texas A&M, Daniels recorded two crucial sacks to end the Aggies' final two potential game-winning drives.
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. Against Texas A&M, Daniels recorded key sacks in the Aggies final two drives to key the 13-10 victory in College Station.
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 Maintains Record-Setting Pace: With his streak-extending 132-yard effort against Texas, junior Heisman Trophy candidate Byron Hanspard is on pace to set several school records this week with his 193.7 per game average. His 1,743 total yards this season is the second-highest single-season total in Texas Tech history.
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 6.4 yards per carry and has surpassed the 200-yard barrier in four games this season. He has rushed for over 100 yards in 14 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 274 1743 6.4 9 16 176 11.0 1 Total 695 3878 5.6 25 62 880 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 225 98 .436 1429 5 9 105.7 112 275 2.5 4 Total 767 366 .477 4910 17 34 332 629 1.9 19
Greaser Goes Long: Sophomore kicker Jaret Greaser has connected on two of the nine longest field goals in school history this season. He made a 55-yarder against Texas, which cleared the upright with plenty of room to spare and landed in the grassy area of Jones Stadium. He laos made a 53-yarder at Kansas State. His prep career-high was a 59-yarder while competing at Amarillo H.S.
He 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 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 21st nationally in pass defense and limited Nebraska and Texas A&M both under 55 yards passing. 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.
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.