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.

The first opponent after the SMU debacle was Wichita State out out of the Missouri Valley Conference. After losing to SMU, Coach Elliott was quoted as saying the Mavericks may not lose another game the rest of the season.

In many ways, I consider Wichita State to be an almost exact equal to UTA. UTA dropped their program at the conclusion of the 1985 season. The Shockers discontinued their program after the 1986 season.

Both schools cited the financial strain of the sport. UTA President Wendell Nedderman cited a total deficit of $950,000 by the athletic department in his decision to cut the University's most expensive sport. WSU President Warren Armstrong cited a football shortfall of $850,000 in his decision.

UTA suffered one of the lowest attendance averages in its on-campus history, 5,600, ranking it 12th of 17 seasons in on-campus rankings total attendance. Wichita State's average of 9,700 a game in 1986 was the second lowest since their stadium opened in 1969. Of course, the irony is that had UTA averaged 9,700, things would have been awesome.

As much as this comparison may sound crazy, I think Wichita State is what UTA could have been in basketball had any investment been made in athletics. The very first thing the upper level administrators should have done was build a multi-purpose arena. It shouldn't have taken almost 20 years before a legitimate effort was put forth.

An unknown fact is that an arena was planned at the same time as Maverick Stadium, to be built in the South 40 parking lot off of Cooper Street. Its capacity would have been approximately 10,000 and I have never seen any official blueprints or renderings, so I don't know what UTA would have gotten. State law changed after funds were allocated for Maverick Stadium and before the arena was too far along, which meant the way the original plans for funding it were no longer available, and UTA then just gave up.

President James Spaniolo proved just how easy, or rather just how attainable, it was to get the thing built if the will was there. I wouldn't trade College Park Center for anything, but what could have happened if UTA was playing in a quality basketball arena for 20+ years? Could the Mavericks have gotten near the level of success the Shockers have garnered? All hypothetical at this point, but I think the answer is probable.

At any rate, after starting 1-3, the 1983 Mavericks try to right the ship against the Wichita State Shockers at home on this day in UTA football history.

UTA rallies for late 34-24 win

Star-Telegram Writer

For most of the game, Wichita State's Tyrone Mitchell had been a giant headache for UT-Arlington with his deadly passing, repeatedly hitting his receivers in clutch situations.

But the Mavs' defensive bunch finally said 'nuff is enough and pressured the talented quarterback into two incompletions and, finally a fumble on fourth down.

That ensured UTA's four-point lead and the Mavericks added an insurance touchdown run by Randy Johnson with five seconds left for a 34-24 victory over the Shockers Saturday night at Maverick Stadium.

The last touchdown was a gift. Time was running out with the ball on the 1-yard line when the Shockers asked for a ridiculous time out.

That stopped the clock with nine seconds left and the Mavs, not ones to look a gift horse in the mouth, sent Johnson crashing over for the final touchdown.

The Mavs scrapped from behind twice in the fourth quarter for touchdowns, the first on a 63-yard scoring strike from Danny Jackson to flanker Andre Gray - with a clearing block by Darrell Hulcy - that reclaimed the lead at 21-17.

Wichita State countered, though, with an 82-yard touchdown surge in 13 plays to shoot ahead, 24-21, on Tyrone Mitchell's 4-yard run with 5:49 left.

While the Mavs had trouble with Mitchell and his passes, the Shockers just couldn't contain UTA return specialist Jarvis McKyer. McKyer, whose 47-yard return of the opening kickoff paved the way for the Mavs' first touchdown, took the ensuing kickoff and broke for 29 yards to UTA's 36.

Three plays later came two clutch plays for the Mavs. Jackson passed to tight end Jon Dyer and Scotty Caldwell, finding his path closed inside, broke outside for 27 yards to the 6.

Johnson slashed for five yards then swept right end for the go-ahead touchdown. Scott Tennison added the extra point for the 28-24 lead.

The question became, had the Mavs scored too soon, because the Shockers' explosive offense had been defused more by their own turnovers then UTA's defense.

There was 2:44 left, but this time UTA's defense would not unravel.

It was amazing that UTA managed to stay in the game for the Shockers had an amazing 525 yards - 238 rushing and 287 passing compared to UTA's 336 total from 226 ground yards and 140 through the air.

"Sure, we were dominated in the offensive stats," UTA coach Bud Elliott agreed. "But the name of the game is points on the board.

"They completed key passes all night long but we kept them out of the end zone. They are an excellent running footall team but they hurt us throwing the football.

"My gosh, I sure wasn't pleased with out pass defense. We've fought better better back there than that."

Mitchell completed 14 of 20 passes for 229 yards and one touchdown. Flanker Reuben Eckels caught 7 for 109 yards and one touchdown of 36 yards while tight end Anthony Jones repeatedly worked into the open for five receptions for 73 yards.

But turnovers killed the Shockers. They lost two fumbles, one at UTA's one on a bad pitch caused by linebacker's George Holmes' tackle on Mitchell.

And Mitchell was intercepted in the fourth quarter in the end zone by UTA's strong safety David Phillips, who made a leaping catch.

UTA, in raising its record to 2-3, got a solid game from Jackson at quarterback in the first and fourth quarters. That was when his passes found willing targets that helped produce two first quarter touchdowns and three last quarter scores.

Jackson completed five of 13 passes for 140 yards. The senior hit on his first two of the evening and his final two.

"I was pleased with Jackson's performance. He gave us a chance to break it open but we just dropped passes," Elliott said.

Caldwell scored one touchdown and had 85 yards on 14 carries.. Johnson, with three touchdowns, contributed 68 yards on 20 carries.

"Offesnively, we did not capitalize but we still scored 34 points and came from behind which shows character. I'm really pleased," Elliott said.

Wichita State coach Willie Jeffries admitted he was perplexed by his team's offensive total but fifth loss in six games.

"I can't explain it," he said. "At critical times we just didn't come up with big plays. We certainly had a chance to win the game and we didn't."

He pinpointed Phillips' interception in the fourth quarter as the big turnover.

"We had a four-point lead at the time. They got the ball on the 20 and took it all the way down," Jeffries said. "We should have stopped them."

Wichita St.  ...........................0 10 7  7 - 24
Texas-Arlington  ...................14 0  0 20- 34

UTA-Caldwell 1 run (Tennison kick)
UTA-Johnson 1 run (Tennison kick)
WS-Eckels 30 pass from Mitchell (Lopez-Chavero kick)
WS-FG Lopez-Chavero 39
WS-Rucker 3 run (Lopez-Chavero kick)
UTA-Gray 63 pass from Jackson (Tennison kick)
WS-Mitchell 4 run (Lopez-Chavero kick)
UTA-Johnson 3 run (Tennison kick)
UTA-Johnson 1 run (run failed)

                                   Wichita St.           UTA
First downs.............................27               15
Rushes-yards...................55-238        52-226
Passing yards........................287              140
Return yards...........................20                  0
Passes...........................19-29-3         5-13-1
Punts...................................1-37         5-41.2
Fumbles-lost.........................3-2               3-1
Penalties-yards....................5-39            5-43
Time of Possession.............34:36           25:24

RUSHING-WSU, Rucker 19-100, Glasper 10-53, Denson 6-40. UTA, Caldwell 14-85, Johnson 20-69, Meredith 8-49.
PASING-WSU, Mitchell 19-29-3 287. Jackson 5-13-1 140.
RECEIVING-WSU, Eckels 10-135, Jones 7-105. UTA, J. White 1-7, Hulcy 1-36, Caldwell 1-13, Gray 1-63, Dyer 1-21.

Taken from the Dallas Morning News, 10-9-83.

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