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Deep in the Heart of Texas, Titans Are Hoping for the Best

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The task doesn’t get any easier for the Cal State Fullerton football team. Tonight at Texas Tech, the Titans make their second attempt of the season to end the nation’s longest Division I-A losing streak.

But at least the Titans, losers of 12 consecutive games, will have some idea of what they’ll be getting into at Lubbock, Tex.

Fullerton didn’t have a clue as to what Mississippi State would do in last week’s opener. The Bulldogs had a new coach, Jackie Sherrill, and a new offensive coordinator.

The Titans didn’t scout Mississippi State’s spring game, but the Bulldogs sent a scout to Fullerton’s spring scrimmage. There was no film exchange during the summer.

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“It was like going on a blind date,” Fullerton Coach Gene Murphy said. “What do you do?”

Not much. The Titans got trampled, 47-3.

The score might be lopsided again tonight when Fullerton takes on a superior Southwest Conference opponent. But this time, the Titans will know what hit them.

Fullerton has been watching game films of the 1990 Red Raiders, and with eight returning offensive starters and no major coaching changes, the Titans don’t figure Texas Tech will make any drastic changes.

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“They use an I-formation, they have a very quick quarterback who likes to sprint out, and we’ll definitely see the ball in the air more this week,” Murphy said. “The positive thing for the defense is they have something to prepare for.”

The negative thing: What the Titans know will hurt them. The Red Raiders have an offense that averaged 29 points against some stiff competition in 1990.

Texas Tech went 4-7, but played well in loses to Ohio State (17-10), Houston (51-35), Baylor (21-15) and Texas A&M; (28-24). The Red Raiders’ only lopsided losses were to Miami (45-10) and Texas (41-22).

“It wasn’t like we were getting beat, 66-7, and they were hauling us off in dump trucks and stuff,” Texas Tech Coach Spike Dykes said.

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Senior quarterback Jamie Gill, who led the Red Raiders to a 9-3 record in 1989, is healthy after missing 23 quarters because of an assortment of injuries last season.

Texas Tech has a legitimate All-American candidate in wide receiver Rodney Blackshear, who caught 44 passes for 973 yards and nine touchdowns in 1990.

The Red Raiders complement a fine passing attack with a solid running game, which features tailback Anthony Lynn, who rushed for 884 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Overall, the Red Raiders have much more speed on offense than the Titans do on defense.

“They’re a well-disciplined team and they play hard,” Murphy said. “I doubt they’ll change much from last season.”

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There were a few bright spots for Fullerton last week. A very inexperienced offensive line showed potential, paving the way for running backs Reggie Yarbrough and Arthur Davis to gain 179 yards combined.

With an inexperienced quarterback and receiving corps, it appears the Titans will be more of a running team after relying heavily on the pass for the past two seasons.

Murphy said Yarbrough has gained about 10 pounds from last season and is running better and harder than he did in 1990, when he rushed for 1,014 yards.

And Davis, a speedy junior transfer whom Murphy describes as a cross between former Titan running backs Mike Pringle and Rick Calhoun, had several good runs against the Bulldogs.

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“He made a four-yard run and six guys missed him,” Murphy said. “He’s got some real shake-and-bake.”

Titan Notes

This is the first football meeting between Fullerton and Texas Tech and the first time the Titans have played a Southwest Conference school. It’s also the first time Fullerton has played football in the state of Texas, bringing to 20 the number of states in which the Titans have played. Fullerton is scheduled to return to Texas Tech in 1995, and the Red Raiders have been contracted to play in Fullerton in 2004. . . . Nose tackle Jamal Jones suffered a dislocated kneecap and reserve offensive tackle Abe Elliott suffered torn knee ligaments against Mississippi State last week, and both are expected to be out for another 3-5 weeks. . . . Senior inside linebacker Chad Lindsay had 16 tackles, including 13 solo, against the Bulldogs last week. . . . Texas Tech starting offensive linemen Brad Elam (center) and Stance Labaj (guard) have knee injuries and will miss tonight’s game. . . . The Red Raiders have an outstanding punter in senior Mark Bounds, who transferred from West Texas State after that school dropped football after last season. Bounds led Division II punters with a 46.3-yard average in 1990. . . . Red Raider kicker Lin Elliott has made 51 consecutive extra-points.


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