Saturday, November 9, 2013

UTA Football Game Ten

If you are just scanning the record books, 1974 was nothing to be excited about. In fact quite the opposite. Two years removed from a 5-6 overall record and a 4-1 conference mark, UTA was 4-6 in 1973. However, head coach John Symank left to join the pro ranks as an assistant and Bud Elliot was about to complete his first year as head coach of UTA, the first of ten.

Elliott's record is remarkably mediocre. In ten years, he had two winning records, 9-2 in 1979 and 6-5 in 1981, and four 5-6 seasons, 1976, 77, 78 and 83. However, there is a bit of context that is needed when looking at his record as a Maverick.

UTA's move from the College Division to the University was poorly done. In fact, I have never seen one worse in the history books by any other school. They moved from the on-campus stadium, Memorial Stadium, to Turnpike Stadium, where they couldn't play very many home games in September. They played five total home games in September for the entire decade.

To get to the higher division, they had to play harder teams. So therefore, they played road games against what today would be known as BCS teams. TCU of the Southwest Conference, Oklahoma State of the Big Eight, a ranked Toledo team from the Mid-American Conference and independent, ranked Southern Mississippi (0-12 all-time). Even though they played North Texas State (UNT today) at Texas Stadium most years, they were ranked in the '70's and usually meant another loss.

This meant that the team usually had a losing record before playing in front of the home crowd, and THAT usually was by more than a game, which is a huge hurdle in one month. For the fans, it was a hurdle to big to overcome.

Another obstacle that Elliott faced and the school bunged when moving up was scholarship offerings. UTA allowed or was only able to afford 68 per year. The rest of the SLC competition was near the conference-mandated level of 80. The NCAA cap was 95. Against some of the tougher competition, he was 20 plus short and against the rest of the conference he was 12 short than the opponent. UTA was not lacking star players during his tenure. The record books, especially the rushing offense, is busting at the seams from players he coached. What he was short on was an entire team effort. In some years, the O was good, but the D suffered and occasionally vice versa. Certainly there were the occasional special teams issues, which is to be expected when there isn't as much depth. It is an academic debate at this point, but I believe more scholarships could have made a difference.

This I think is why he had such a long tenure for a coach who never had a winning record at UTA. Despite the lack of resources against his peer schools, he consistently competed in the SLC. He was 15-15 against SLC competition in the 1970's. Take away the 1-4 mark from his first year and he had a winning record against schools who had better resources and more scholarships.

In the end, Coach Elliott has more wins at UTA during the four-year era than any other coach at 46. This game was his first.

After eight games and eight losses in 1974, UTA hosted the University of Southwestern Louisiana. The Cajuns were almost as equally futile as UTA was, they were 1-6 going into the game with 0-8 UTA.

There really wasn't much remarkable about either team. UTA had only three 100 yard rushers in 1974 and those came in three of the previous four games. Abe Welcher had one and Elmo Simmons had the others.

There were some guys who would make their mark in later years, but only Ron Barnett, a receiver in a rushing offense, was a first team All-SLC selection from 1974. He would also be a 1st teamer in '75. Barnett's selection was one more than the entire team of USL had, but they did feature future kicker of the Dallas Cowboys, Rafael Septien, though he would only receive a 1st team selection in 1975 as well.

This really was the battle for last place in the SLC. And in what would be a hallmark of Coach Elliott's teams, winning this game meant he didn't finish last.

UTA Finally Wins, 21-17

Staff Writer of The News
ARLINGTON-Any street fighter who's come face to face with more than one pair of eyes in a dark alley will tell you to get in that first punch and hope the boys in blue arrive now.

UTA found itself in a little street fight of its own Saturday afternoon when the Mavs put eight straight losses on display in a homecoming matchup with a rough Cajun team from Southwestern Louisiana. So the hosts gave 500 rain-soaked fans something to cheer about on the opening kickoff as Mike Wecker rambled 88 yards enroute to a surprising 21-17 triumph.

Rafael Septien followed his Cajuns scouting report and tried to kick away from the UTA deep backs on three straight attempts . Each time the football scurried out of bounds and finally on his fourth kick, this one at the Cajuns 25, Septien booted deep to the Maverick 12.

Wecker field the kick, started up the middle, and suddenly found an open "fire lane" to go untouched for the six points. Only 13 seconds had elapsed on the scoreboard clock and UTA had scored its first TD via kickoff return since 1965.

THE EXPLOSION lifted the UTA attack to a seasonal high of 21 points and the first win since a 31-12 win over Western Michigan in the Mavericks' ninth game of 1973.

After the visitors moved 87 yards in 17 plays to get on the scoreboard, UTA showed signs of folding. Punter Gary Briscoe fielded a two-hop snap on fourth down at the UTA 13, finally catching the ball in the end zone, and somehow got the kick away. The ball was picked at the 11 by linebacker Steve Hardin and he stepped into the end zone for six points.

Emanuel Guidry scrambled for two points after the easy TD and the Rajin' Cajuns had a 14-7 lead with 1:03 left in the first period.

Maverick fans may have started for the exits at this point, but many elected to watch one more return by Wecker. The Emporia, Kan. transfer was swamped this time by the Cajun specialty team but quarterback Vic Morriss had a 73-yard bomb up his sleeve.

Morriss went back to pass on first down at his 27 and floated a deep pass to Ronnie Barnett around the Cajun 45. Barnett ran under the spiral and went untouched for the six points and a 14-14 tie with 13:51 left in the half.

Two fumbles and a blocked field goal later UTA came up with the football at the visitors' 41 with 7:14 showing. Moriss hit Albert Benson at the 23, and fullback Derrick Jensen carried to the 17. Morriss gained only three yards and on fourth down Elmo Simmons carried the mail to the 11.

Halfback Abe Welcher found a gaping hole off right tackle to the one and then Jensen followed the blocking of his left guard into the end zone. Briscoe converted for the third time and UTA's 21-14 margin stood until the final period.

Neither team could muster any resemblance of an offense in the final 30 minutes and everyone was almost lulled to sleep until Septien kicked true on a 47-yard field goal with six minutes to play.

First Downs....................15          11
Rushing Yardage...........182        134
Passing Yardage..............63         97
Passes........................2-8-0    4-8-1
Punts.........................4-33.8  8-29.5
Fumbles Lost.....................5           3
Penalties......................7-35       4-27

SW Louisiana.............6     8     0     3  -  17
Texas-Arlington..........7    14    0     0  -  21

UTA-Wecker 88 kickoff return (Bostick kick)
USL-Lation 8 run (kick failed)
USL-Hardin 12 punt return (Lation run)
UTA-Barnett 73 pass from Morriss (Bostick kick)
UTA-Jensen 1 run (Bostick kick)
USL-FG Septien 47

A-5,000 (est)

Taken from the Dallas Morning News 11-10-74

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