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A Texas Tech Football Season In Review: 1995

1993 through 1999 Texas Tech Football helmet, courtesy Helmet Project

A Texas Tech Football Season In Review . . .

The Year: 1995

The Record: 9-3

The Bowl Game: Copper Bowl

At the time, I remembered these games so vividly, but now they are for the most part a blur. This season, for me, was known for one moment:

And to relive the moment further (hat-tip Disco Tech!):

From a conference perspective this was a historical year because it was the last year for the Southwest Conference. In 1994 Texas decided to break away from the SWC and Texas Tech, along with a number of other schools, followed suit shortly thereafter.

Despite being very much alive in 1995, there's so much of this season that's somewhat hazy so most of my recollections of this season are general and not specific. Of course, this is how I tend to remember sports anyway, generally and not microscopic instances of particular events, unless of course they are game changing events (see above). I remember thinking that Texas Tech was going to get smashed by Penn State, but was incredibly proud as the Red Raiders did more than just show up. Remember that Penn State was the No. 4 team in the nation coming into this game and the Red Raiders weren't at all phased by College Park.

The Missouri game is hardly a blip on the old memory, but I remember the overall disappointment to losing to Baylor. The offense sputtered and it wasn't much of a game.

It was the A&M game that changed the course of the season. My vague memories tell me that this was a back-and-forth game and literally could have gone either way. The difference of course was that Texas Tech made plays and A&M didn't. Heisman hopeful LeLand McElroy was limited most of the game (27 carries for 80 yards) and Pullig had 3 interceptions and the Aggies actually threw the ball 46 times that game. I remember the Aggies thinking that they were on the path to opening up their offense and it worked to some extent, but not this fateful Saturday. When Zach Thomas stepped in front of that Corey Pullig pass this changed Zach's life in terms of his cult-hero status at Texas Tech. Instead of being just a great player at Texas Tech, Zach is revered and I remember him largely for that one play because it is so vivid.

The following 3 games were uneventful with wins against Arkansas State, Rice and at New Mexico. The most difficult game of the bunch came against Rice, but once again these games were a blur to me. During this stretch, we see that Lethridge was a caretaker of the offense, throwing no interceptions:

  • Arkansas State: 15-23 for 263 yards
  • Rice: 11-21 for 144 yards, 2 TD's
  • New Mexico: 12-22 for 183 yards

By the New Mexico game, Texas Tech was ranked 22nd in the nation and up next were the 13th ranked Texas Longhorns and Ricky Williams. I remember this game from the standpoint that I thought that Texas Tech was going to shock the world. I was wrong. I do not recall the specifics of this game, but I do recall that this game came down to too many turnovers for the Red Raiders. Ricky Williams had a pedestrian day, rushing for only 113 yards. James Brown led the UT offense with 2 touchdown passes. Texas Tech was 0-3 on 4th down, had 3 fumbles and lost 2 and Lethridge threw 2 interceptions.

Texas Tech won their next 4 games and was led by Byron Hanspard. Hanspard was huge for this Texas Tech offense in this 4 game set:

  • Arkansas State: 24 rushes, 126 yards, 1 TD
  • SMU: 24 rushes, 180 yards, 2 TD's
  • Houston: 29 rushes, 228 yards, 1 TD

Hanspard was a legitimate threat on the ground which eventually translated to success in next year's season where Hanspard was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2nd round. Hanspard's road to the NFL was a little bumpy. In 2006 Byron won the Doak Walker Award and before Hanspard was drafted, news filtered down that Byron had a 0.0 GPA. Questions began to arise regarding Texas Tech's academic standards and rightfully so, but you can't make a kid go to class and Hanspard apparently didn't go at all. I do remember Hanspard being incredibly fast which is what made him so valuable as a running back. The mere threat of Hanspard being able to break a long run for a touchdown was something that Tech had never had before (at least not quite as fast as Hanspard).

Texas Tech met Air Force in the Copper Bowl (which is now the Insight Bowl) and it was an impressive display of offense for the Red Raiders:

  • Byron Hanspard: 24 rushes for 260 yards, 4 TD's
  • Zebbie Lethridge: 22-41 for 245 yards, 1 Int. and 1 TD passing and 10 rushes for 85 yards, 2 TD's

Hanspard won the MVP for his performance in the Copper Bowl. Air Force quarterback Beau Morgan had a swim through the Dallas Cowboys (I think) as a running back, but never stuck. Air Force, as a team, rushed for 431 yards, which is amazing, but managed only 83 yards passing.

Dykes lasted through the 1999 and coached the Red Raiders for 13 years. I've said it once and I'll say it again, Leach owes much of the current state of this Texas Tech football program he inherited to Spike's unrelenting passion for the game where Spike created a winner from a program that was horrible before he arrived.

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

Image from Southwest Conference Helmets

Random Notes from the Media Guide:

  • Zach Thomas, linebacker, and Marcus Coleman, defensive back, were 1st team All-Americans.
  • All Southwest conference was Macus Coleman, defensive back; Byron Hanspard, running back; Zach Thomas, linebacker; Dane Johnson, punt returner.
  • Team Awards:
    • Pete Cawthon Memorial Team Most Valuable Player Award: Zach Thomas, linebacker.
    • Dell Morgan Mememorial Courage Award: Shawn Banks, linebacker.
    • Donny Anderson Sportsmanship Award: Byron Hanspard, running back.
    • E.J. Holub Double Tough Leadership Award: Zach Thomas, linebacker.
    • Dare to Be Great Award: Cody Chandler, defensive tackle.
    • JT King Award (Most Improved Player): Jerod Fiebiger, tight end.
    • Clint Ramsey Academic Efford Award: Shawn Hurd.
  • Byron Hanspard led the team in rushing with 1,374 yards with 11 touchdowns.
  • Hanspard is 7th all-time at Tech with 248 rushing attempts in a season.
  • Zebbie Lethridge had 136 completions for 281 attempts, 1,885 yards and 13 touchdowns. Lethridge is tied for 10th all time in single season passing touchdowns.
  • Hanspard led the team in receiving with 35 receptions for 474 yards and 7 touchdowns.
  • Against TCU, Tech only allowed 125 total yards.
  • Team Stats:
    • Scoring Offense: 330 points for 30.0 points per game.
    • Rush Offense: 2,258 yards for 205.3 yards per game.
    • Pass Offense: 1,987 yards for 180.6 yards per game.
    • Total Offense: 4,245 yards for 385.9 yards per game.
    • Scoring Defense: 206 points for 18.7 points allowed per game.
    • Rushing Defense: 1,615 yards for 146.8 yards allowed per game.
    • Passing Defense: 2,020 yards for 256.4 yards allowed per game.
    • Total Defense: 3,635 yards for 330.5 yards allowed per game.