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A Texas Tech Football Season In Review: 1987

1984 through 1992 Texas Tech Football helmet, courtesy Helmet Project

A Texas Tech Football Season In Review . . .

The Year: 1987

The Record: 6-4-1

The Bowl Game: None

  • September 5: @ Florida State (8), L, 16-40
  • September 12: Colorado State, W, 33-24
  • September 19: Lamar, W, 43-14
  • September 26: @ Baylor, L, 22-36
  • October 3: @ Texas A&M (15), W, 27-21
  • October 10: Arkansas (20), L, 0-31
  • October 17: Rice, W, 59-7
  • October 24: Tulsa, W, 42-7
  • October 31: @ Texas, L, 27-41
  • November 7: TCU, W, 36-35
  • November 21: @ Houston, T, 10-10

This was Spike Dykes first year as a head coach, although he coached the previous team's bowl game due to David McWilliams' departure and considering the circumstances a job well done. I know that when I've looked back at a season I tend to lean towards those Spike Dykes years, but I feel that these lean years are so important to understanding the state of the program today.

The Red Raiders started out of the gate playing ranked Florida State in Tallahassee and the season started off on the wrong foot with a 16-40 loss to the Seminoles. The Red Raiders were then able to rattle off two victories against what we would assume to be lesser than competition beating Colorado State 33-24 and Lamar 43-14.

Much like today, few team go into Waco and come out with a victory and for the 1987 Red Raiders, this year was no different losing a heart-breaker to Baylor, but much like of Spike's tenure he rebounds quickly with a 27-21 victory over Texas A&M. Check that, over ranked Texas A&M.

Beginning a 4 game home stand, our beloved Red Raiders beat the Aggies in what would prove to be the biggest game of the year. This is exactly the type of victory that Spike would pull out of a season. A faithful DTN reader pointed out that no other coach would consistently beat the Aggies like Coach Dykes (although Coach Leach is certainly doing his part as well) and this year was no different. Of course it helps even more when it's a ranked team, no matter the opponent. The next week, Tech was whipped by Arkansas 31-0.

Two dominating wins came against Rice and Tulsa where the Red Raiders only allowed 14 points and now Spike and Texas Tech would have to face the coach who led this team the previous year, David McWilliams. In McWilliams first season at Texas he came into this game 3-3 and was desperate for a victory and losing to Tech would simply not be an option for him. McWilliams and the Longhorns would be the Red Raiders 41-27.

The season would finish with a close win over TCU and tie (that seems so odd to type in this day and age) against Houston.

This is complete speculation on my part, but do you think that Spike looked at the schedule at the beginning of the season and saw this 4 game home stretch and thought that if he could win 3 of 4 then this would be a successful season? He probably knew that his team would lose to either Arkansas or Texas A&M, but if he could win just one of those game the season would be salvaged. Considering A&M is in-state, the thought probably would have been to put their effort into the A&M game. With expected wins over Colorado State, Lamar, Rice, Tulsa and TCU that's a winning season. And were it not for the hiccups against Houston and Baylor (who both had losing records in conference) then this would have been a 7 or 8 win season.

Let's not forget where this program was in previous seasons:

  • 1979: 3-6-2
  • 1980: 5-6-0
  • 1981: 1-9-1
  • 1982: 4-7-0
  • 1983: 3-7-1
  • 1984: 4-7-0
  • 1985: 4-7-0

Aside from the 1986 team (7-5), this program was horrible for the previous 7 seasons and I think that at this point, Texas Tech fans are starting to see the light.

Here's a photo of the helmet used during this year.

Image from Southwest Conference Helmets

Random Notes from the Media Guide:

  • All Southwest Conference:
    • Wayne Walker, WR
    • Eddy Anderson, WR
    • Billy Joe Toliver, QB
    • James Gray, RB
    • Mike McBride, OG
    • Jeff Keith, OG
    • Scott Segrist, K
    • Michael Johnson, LB
    • Artis Jackson, DT
  • Eric Everett and Artis Jackson played in the now defunct Blue-Gray Game.
  • Team Awards:
    • Pete Cawthon Memorial Team Most Valuable Player Award: James Gray, RB.
    • Dell Morgan Memorial Courage Award: Bart Reagor, DB.
    • Donny Anderson Sportsmanship Award: Scott Toman, QB.
    • E.J. Holub Double Tough Leadership Award: David Stickels, OG.
    • Dare to Be Great Award: Jeff Keith, OG.
    • JT King Award (Most Improved Player): Clifton Winston, FB.
    • Clint Ramsey Academic Effort Award: Ricky Boysaw.
  • James Gray was dominating. In 1987 he rushed for 173 yards, twice. The first time against TCU and the second time against Rice. Gray wasn't finished, against Lamar he rushed for 151 yards and 150 yards against Colorado State. Gray finished with 1,006 total rushing yards and 13 touchdowns for the season. Gray should probably have a much greater legacy at Texas Tech than he currently does. He may be as responsible for Tech's turnaround as Coach Dykes. The guy was unbelievable.
  • Bill Joe Tolliver led the team in passing with 196 attempts, 97 completions for 1,422 yards (I believe he was injured that year).
  • Wayne Walker led the team in receiving with 32 receptions for 659 yards and 5 touchdowns.
  • The great and diminutive in stature only, Tyrone Thurman led the team with 35 punt returns for 323 yards which is 3rd all-time at Texas Tech.
  • Michael Johnson was a tackling machine with 154 tackles for the season which is 4th all-time at Texas Tech. That's a average of 14 tackles, per game.
  • James Mosley had 7.5 sacks which is tied for 9th all-time at Texas Tech. Mosley is tied for 5th all-time at Texas Tech with 17 career sacks.
  • Boyd Cowan has 6 interceptions in 1987 which is tied for 6th all-time at Texas Tech.
  • The Red Raiders were on television 3 times in 1987. At Baylor, Texas A&M, and TCU all on Raycom.
  • Team Stats:
    • Scoring Offense: 315 points for 28.6 points per game.
    • Rush Offense: 2,274 yards for 206.7 yards per game.
    • Pass Offense: 2,119 yards for 192.6 yards per game.
    • Total Offense: 4,393 yards for 399.4 yards per game.
    • Scoring Defense: 254 points for 23.1 points allowed per game.
    • Rushing Defense: 1,667 yards for 151.6 yards allowed per game.
    • Passing Defense: 2,100 yards for 190.9 yards allowed per game.
    • Total Defense: 3,767 yards for 342.5 yards allowed per game.