Saturday, November 22, 2014

UTA Football Game 11: End on a High

I would have liked to spend more time on the 1969 team. It was the biggest transition season in the history of UT Arlington football. UTA won the 1967 Southland Conference title. The 1968 squad lost a one-point game at home against the Arkansas State Indians that would basically send the winner to the Pecan Bowl after winning the conference title. That also ended a 15-game home winning streak at Memorial Stadium.

A lot of the firepower from those two years were gone by 1969, but the offense was still quite potent. Offensively, UTA was still a force to be reckoned with, though they averaged the lowest points scored per game since 1966. The defense was near the same level, but again, like the offense, not as good as the 1967 team.

The main difference came from who UTA played. The Rebels had their sights on moving to the University level. Back then, that was the highest level in the NCAA and the way to join those ranks were pretty easy. Half your schedule had to be against other University teams, and UTA really began that process in 1969. UTA would play against three University teams in 1969, four in 1970 and six in 1971, completing their ascension to the highest level.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

UTA Football Game Eleven: The First in a Short Line

There's some similarities between the 11th game of this year's series of games and last year's 11th game. Both games feature a signature moment, last year's was the end of UT-Arlington's dynasty, while this year's was the first win at the new venue, against the same team, a long-time conference rival in Arkansas St. Though, the similarities aren't exactly the same. Last year's edition was for the conference title. This year's was to stay out of last place. Last year's 11th game was also one of the most exciting games in UTA's history. This, not really.

But this is here for one reason and one reason only. It was the Mavericks' first win at Maverick Stadium, in the last home game of the 1980 season. The stadium opened to a 31-14 loss to UNT that wasn't as close as the 17 points deficit would indicate. It never got better. Mental mistakes, typical of a Harold "Bud" Elliott coached team, made certain of that. With five home games on the book in the 1980 season, UTA was 0-5 at the new place. 18,033 saw the first game. UTA would never get above 10,000 ever again. In fact, they'd never get above 8,000 in 1980, culminating in an all-time Maverick Stadium low for today's game.

The irony is, Maverick Stadium would be a better place for UTA in coming years. They would win almost 60 percent of their home games from 1981 on.
1981, 4-1
1982, 2-2
1983, 3-3
1984, 4-2
1985, 3-2

Saturday, November 8, 2014

UTA Football Game Ten: Domination Starts

For today’s installment of This Day in UTA Football History, we make a trek back and revisit the 1975 team. The second year of Coach Harold “Bud” Elliott’s tenure at UTA began with promise. A win over TCU was the marquee moment for UTA playing at the top level college football. But the team was fading in the results column afterwards, coming in to the Lamar game with a 2-6 record.

However, there was hope in the UT Arlington Athletic Department. After a combined 12 wins in the previous five years, where the wins were close and the losses weren’t, the 1975 squad was competitive. With an extra score against McNeese State and Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana-Lafayette), the Mavs would have come into the game with a .500 record, something not seen since 1969.

And rightfully so. The mid-to-late 1970’s Maverick teams were not short on talent. The UTA football program had put over 30 players into the pro’s, a good portion from this era. Leading the way was fullback Derrick Jensen, a Maverick Hall of Honor member and long time Oakland/Los Angeles Raider and two-time Super Bowl winner. Really can’t write enough about what this guy did at UTA, but I’ll keep it as brief as I can: third Team All-American in 1976 and ’77, Offensive Player of the Year in the Southland Conference in 1976 and ’77, first team All-SLC in those same years, second team SLC in 1975, retired as UTA’s and the SLC’s all-time leading rusher (still first at UTA), retired as UTA’s second all-time total yards guy (still fourth and this is a stat quarterbacks usually occupy), is first in UTA’s leaders books in total carries and at the time was the highest Maverick taken in the NFL draft, 57th overall in 1978. The short version is this guy was a beast. But he wasn’t alone.