Saturday, October 29, 2016

UTA FB. Vol. 4 Gm. 9 - The Brick Wall of Tech

While I've talked about the situations surrounding the 1977 UT Arlington Mavericks and their previous two games that have made this series (moving to Cravens Field and the North Texas rivalry), what I haven't really done is mention the team itself. For that, I reserved today's entry when I scheduled this year's series.

The 1977 squad, like virtually every other UTA team, had talent on the program. UTA had 30 NFL draft picks during its time in the Southland Conference football era. Arkansas State is the only school with more at 31. In all, 42 made it to NFL rosters. The talent didn't result in much more than 5-6 seasons though, but the reasons are for another post (or have even been discussed in past posts), but the point is there were real talented players, including on this team.

The headliner is Derrick Jensen. Maverick faithful from back in the day immediately know who Jensen is. He was one heck of a fullback, gaining 3,346 yards from 1974 to 1977. In 1976 and 1977, he was named to the All-American team as a third-team selection, UTA's first and only player to make an All-American team at the highest level. 15 others have been named as honorable mentions, but only Jensen landed on one of the three teams. Six players were named to an All-American team at the College Division.

Jensen also ranks first on UTA's all-time record for carries (676), fourth for touchdowns (16) as well as yards per carry (4.9). He was a capable receiver as well, catching 18 passes for 165 yards and 1 TD (I don't have complete stats for the 1976 season when he was a sophomore and the receiving numbers are without his sophomore year). Number 31 is top on UTA's list for 100-yard rushing games with 17.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

UTA FB Vol. 4, Gm. 8 - Late Conference Start

College football in 1966 is not like we know it today, in so many ways. Conferences are much, much bigger today than just about anything back in the mid-1960's. Therefore it's not uncommon to see conference games early in the season, and in many instances, it can be the first game up. The common thinking back then was to use the non-conference schedule to prepare for conference play.

As the Arlington State Rebels moved to the later stages of October, they had not played their first Southland Conference team. But, seeing as how the SLC only had four other competitors to fill a 10-game schedule, that wasn't surprising, but rather the norm.

The Trinity Tigers were the first opponent on UTA's schedule. Trinity is an interesting note in the SLC's history. They were the first University to leave the union. Most schools in the SLC had designs of becoming higher in the NCAA food chain. Trinity, however, did not. As the SLC schools made a push to go to the University Division, later Division I, Trinity would actually drop to Division III, or non-scholarship.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

UTA FB Vol. 4 Gm. 7 - The Truest of True Rivals

In this week's entry into the UTA football history series, I may not give as much backstory as I usually do. Simply, I just don't need to with this one.

When I introduce East Texas State, or Texas A&M-Commerce as they are known now, the average fan, the younger fan, and even people my age or older may not know why or even that there was a rivalry. The schools are in different NCAA divisions, don't play anymore and just don't really have anything in common now like they did then.

All that's needed for today's entry is to fill in small gaps and set the stage because today's opponent is just as much a rival then as now; the University of North Texas, or North Texas State University as they were known in 1977.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

UTA FB Vol. 4 Gm. 6 - Looking in the Mirror

When we last left the 1983 season, one with gigantic expectations as a huge amount of talent was returning (more on that later in the series), they had just dropped their season opener to Western Michigan, the eighth time in ten openers for a Coach Harold "Bud" Elliott team at UT Arlington. Things weren't looking good for UTA.

The Mavericks dropped their next game to Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe) at Maverick Stadium, 16-10. It was a game where the UTA offense was just outmatched by the Indians' (now Warhawks) defense.

The first win of the year came on the road against the West Texas State (now A&M) Buffaloes, 31-13. That was followed with a 34-0 drubbing at the hands of the SMU Mustangs, ranked 13th at the time. After that game, Coach Elliott said the Mavericks may not lose another game the rest of the season.

Looking at Coach Elliott's performance, one of the things that stick out is just how bad his teams performed at Maverick Stadium. Coach Elliott was at the helm when Maverick Stadium opened and he went 1-5 the first year. Prior to this game, he was 7-11 overall at home. He'd finish his career 10-12 at Maverick Stadium. I think that played a large part in his dismissal from the team. Lack of community support was a primary reason for Elliott's dismissal. Hard to get that support when you can't win in front of them.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

UTA FB Vol. 4 Gm. 5 - Talent and Youth

Today's entry in the UTA football history series has way more meaning than just with opponent, site, outcome, etc., though it has a lot of that. So today, we'll look back at the 1966 season and go to Memorial Stadium as Arlington State College plays their home opener.

Today's opponent is East Texas State University, the first genuine rival ASC had since leaving the junior college ranks. The schools are roughly an hour's drive apart and the game's were relatively close. UTA dropped the first two games of the series, 9-14 and 8-17 but rebounded in 1965 for a 20-6 win.

I've mentioned before about how this was one of the higher attended games of the year for the host team. Of the six games that have hit five figures  or more on UTA's campus, two came from East Texas State. And that's out of three total games in Arlington.

1966 was really an interesting year, but not for some of the reasons initially thought. Sophomore quarterback Carl Williams led the team in passing as a freshman with 902 yards. There were many who thought he had the making to be an all-time great. But for reasons I have never been able to find, he quit the team mid-season. That left the door open for Mike Baylor, who would become that all-time great, holding most career passing records and a few single-season ones that still stand.