Strength in Numbers: Special Holiday Edition

These are fun facts relating to The University of Texas' historical highs (and some lows):

[Editor's note: Strength in Numbers, a unique statistical look at UT sports, is generally a subscriber-only column here on In the spirit of the Holidays, we've opened this edition up to all Longhorn fans. If you'd like more info on IT's subscription services, iuncluding special Holiday deals, please click here. Happy Holidays and Hook'em Horns!]

With the holiday season upon us, it seems like a good idea to talk bowls from a UT perspective. Here are several bowl facts you may not know:

*What Longhorn holds the most yards passing in one quarter? Bret Stafford, with 202 versus Pittsburgh in the 1987 Bluebonnet Bowl (UT won 32-28; David McWilliams' first -- and only -- bowl win as head coach).

*Who holds the most yards per attempt? James Street, with a whopping 15.4 (13 attempts, 200 yards) against Tennessee, 1969 Cotton Bowl (a 36-13 UT win).

*Who holds the most yards per completion? Duke Carlisle, 30.4 per completion versus Navy (and Heisman trophy quarterback Roger Staubach) in top-ranked UT's 28-6 1964 Cotton victory.

--Interestingly, neither Street nor Carlisle was considered "passing guys."

*Talk about domination: Bobby Layne, in the 40-27 Cotton Bowl win over Missouri, made the "Show Me State" believers by contributing to all 40 points (18 on rush, 12 pass, 6 receiving, 4 PATs)!

*Under Mack Brown, Texas garnered its best and worst average yards per attempt in its bowl history, and it happened in back-to-back Cotton Bowls. It averaged 5.5 yards with Ricky Williams in routing Jackie Sherrill's Mississippi State, 38-11. But the next New Years' Day, UT averaged a negative 1.1 yards per carry in a 27-6 loss to Arkansas.

*Darrell Royal's Wishbone attack, in Cotton Bowls following its first three seasons, accounted for three of the top six all-time total offense marks by Texas. They racked the yardage up against stellar defenses too in Tennessee (513 yards, 1969), Notre Dame (448, 1970), and Notre Dame again (426, 1971).

*Despite a historical preponderance of strong running and dormant passing offenses, Texas has had three games (all in the Cotton) where a quarterback and receiver have hooked up for two scoring passes of over 50 yards. In 1964, Duke Carlisle hit Phil Harris with 64- and 58-yard scores in whipping Navy; James Street and Cotton Speyrer destroyed Tennessee in '69 with 78- and 79-yards scoring bombs, and Major Applewhite hooked up twice with Wane McGarity for 50+ scoring tosses in blowing out Mississippi State following the 1998 season.

*UT features a good/bad syndrome regarding bowls and wins. It ranks in the top ten in total bowl victories (19 wins–tied for 8th), but worst in terms of win-loss percentage among those top 10 teams (48.8%).

*Finishing the bowl talk, Fred Akers' bowl performance contributed both to the suspect historical bowl record of UT as well as to his demise. Critics of Orangeblood fans cite Fred's .731 winning percentage as evidence they are delusionally spoiled. However, Akers' strong overall record is largely based on a near-perfect 29-1 record in the first three games of each of his ten years as head coach in Austin. Unfortunately, his squads went only 14-16 (.467) in the last three games of each season (including bowls) and a measly 7-13 (.350) when just considering the last two. In bowls, he went 2-7. The successes of September's "fun in the sun" melted away with the cold November rains, when key conference games and bowl verdicts provide the most important and strongest memories.

One of the reasons Darrell Royal's successor failed to win a national title is due to his insomnia-curing playcalling. The 1983 team was known for being just a fumbled punt from a national title and for an NCAA-record 17 players drafted in the NFL. Despite such talent, its leading rusher was the forgotten Ronnie Robinson, with just 479 yards. During that season, Texas survived an average Houston team 9-3, gaining a pitiful 85 total yards of offense under the direction of Todd Dodge. The former UT signal-caller directs a much more potent offense as a high school head coach for 5-A champion Southlake Carroll.

Further evidence of Akers' offensive struggles: A.J. "Jam" Jones led UT in rushing for all four years of his career (1978-'81), yet failed to ever rush for 1,000 yards or average at least five yards a carry in a season. In contrast, Chris Gilbert gained at least 1,000 yards all three years (1966-'68) of his eligibility (an NCAA first) and never averaged less than five yards a pop.

Who holds the UT freshman record for most yards rushing in a game? Charles Hunter (another Akers guy), with 187 yards against Houston in a 34-24 win in 1985. Oddly, B.J. Johnson's freshman receiving record against Texas A&M (UT's 43-17 blowout win in 2000) featured the exact amount of yards.

Who led Texas in passing for three straight years in the 1980's? Bret Stafford, an Akers recruit, in 1985-'87.

The passer who holds the UT record for most yards per attempt, both in a season and career? Randy McEachern, primarily under, you guessed it, Fred Akers (1977).

While Fred's teams sagged badly in his latter days, three of the five worst losses Texas has suffered have occurred during the three post-Akers coaches' tenures. David McWilliams versus Houston in 1988 (though multiple horrendous referee calls contributed significantly to the final margin); John Mackovic in 1997 to UCLA; Mack Brown in 2000 to Oklahoma.

--This is probably not simply due to higher-scoring games during the recent era, because none of the top ten UT margins of victory have occurred under the three coaches.

Speaking of poor defenses: in just a ten-year period (1988-1997), Texas suffered through its five worst defenses ever in terms of yards per game allowed. Incredibly, John Mackovic's defenses, in just his six years, contributed to four of those five worst groups.

Mackovic deserves credit though for leading Texas out of the dark ages offensively. Considering his sophisticated passing attack, it's shocking that the leading receiver in 1997 (Kwame Cavil) caught just 23 passes for 316 yards.

One thing John would prefer not to receive "credit" for is seeing long-time win streaks of 24 games versus TCU and 28 versus Rice end under his leadership (in 1992 and '94 respectively).

Since Mackovic's final season loss to a previously winless Baylor team, Mack Brown's versions have defeated the Bears all five times, the last four by an average of 50-6. It tests the powers of belief that just a decade ago, Grant Teaff's last home win over Texas capped a near two-decade period with Baylor owning a 10-9 advantage, including 8-2 in Waco.

Baylor isn't the opponent most of the more experienced UT fans recall. The main rivalry, particularly within the conference, came from neighboring Arkansas. The Darrell Royal-Frank Broyles battles were classics. Even so, Royal overall dominated the Hogs, just as the Horns have historically dominated the series–a 54-20 advantage. Darrell, in fact, beat Frank nine out of the last ten times they met, including each coach's final game in 1976. Texas won the first 14 contests in the rivalry, and 27 of the first 32!

Royal is always the ultimate standard-bearer in terms of conference and national titles. But kudos to Mack Brown, who now holds, however slight, an advantage in conference win-loss percentage. Royal won at a .797 clip within conference, while Brown is now at .800. Mack's overall win percentage at Texas of .762 is third behind Royal (.774) and Dave Allerdice (.825 from 1911-1915) for coaches with at least five seasons at The University.

Mack's first offense in 1998 exploded for 470.6 total yards per game, second in UT history only to the 1969 group (472.1 average). However, the average has dropped each season since.

Bert Hancock has owned two college football-related web sites and was designated "Lead Writer" of one of the first independent web sites dedicated strictly to UT sports. At the University of Texas, where he received a Bachelor of Business degree, his area of specialty was in statistics and probabilities. His "Strength In Numbers" column appears regularly on

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