It has yet to be decided whether or not Saturday’s game between Texas Tech and Texas A&M will be the last one ever between the two schools.
Austin Zouzalik, however, will more than likely have to deal with the drama of the Tech-A&M rivalry for the rest of his life.
The junior wide receiver lives in a family with a history tied to both the Red Raiders and the Aggies.
“It means a lot to me, not only because I grew up here going to the games every year,” Zouzalik said after Tuesday’s practice, “but a bunch of my mom’s side and my dad’s side of the family all went to A&M. I think there’s just about five of us who went to Tech. The rest is all A&M. So, it’s kind of a bragging right to the family.”
Mindset entering rivalry games
Intensity levels, as expected, tend to increase when battling hated rivals.
As to whether or not a player’s outlook on that particular game changes depends on the individual.
Zouzalik said he prepares for the Aggies as he would for any other opponent.
But his family’s involvement in the rivalry does add to the excitement.
“It does make it more fun,” Zouzalik said. “I try not to look forward to it anymore than the other ones. But, there’s little bit extra on the line when the Aggies come to town, not only because it’s in-state, but also because it’s between the family.”
Personal experiences with A&M games
This weekend provides Zouzalik with his third shot at the Aggies, an opponent he has yet to experience victory against since joining Tech football.
Freshman and fellow receiver Bradley Marquez gets his first crack at A&M when the Red Raiders and Aggies meet at 6 p.m. Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium.
Marquez, however, has had the opportunity to watch A&M play in person.
“Honestly, my very first collegiate football game I attended was a Texas A&M-Tech game here,” Marquez said, “when Dwayne Slay was (a Tech) safety and Jorvorskie Lane was (A&M’s) running back. It was definitely a fun game to watch. I enjoyed every bit of it.”
Zouzalik’s experience watching A&M growing up was just as memorable.
“I went to the Sugar Bowl when they played Ohio State, and I was sitting on the A&M side, so that’s kind of one of my worst memories,” Zouzalik said with a laugh. “And (A&M) got destroyed, too.”
Avoiding the slow start
Through four games, the Red Raiders have encountered three halftime deficits.
Of the three, a 20-0 hole against Kansas was the largest. Despite the inconvenience of having to rally, the Red Raiders have done just that, pulling off comeback victories against Kansas, Nevada and Texas State.
Slow starts also plagued last year’s team and are becoming something of a recurring theme.
A solution seems clear: Get into a groove.
The problem of figuring out exactly why the offense has consistently started sluggish has been difficult to figure out.
At least that is what Marquez believes.
“It’s just a matter of, you know, finding a rhythm early and just riding it throughout the rest of the game,” Marquez said. “We’ve struggled a little bit just at the beginning.
“For what reason, I really can’t tell you.