LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A dead battery on Day One cost Texas Tech precious time, and ultimately, the full weight of the fish the team would have brought across the weigh-in stage on the first day of the Under Armour College Bass National Championship.
But as he stood on a dock on the Arkansas River in the pre-dawn dark Friday, Red Raiders bass angler Dustin Cotten figured that his team could still make the leap into contention. While he said he expected the clear blue skies to mute the bite somewhat, Cotten said Texas Tech would need to catch 19 or 20 pounds in order to finish in the top five and fish the final on Saturday.
"It's going to be tougher today," he said. "We need to get on them early. Early and quick and big … We need to try again to see if yesterday was a fluke."
On Day One, Oklahoma, with 14 pounds, 3 ounces, captured a slim lead over second-place Virginia Tech (13-11). Iowa (12-15), Louisiana-Lafayette (10-6), Mississippi State (9-14), Alabama (9-6) and Texas A&M (9-0) all caught limits on Day 1, and all are within a pound of the cut.
"We had the bites we wanted," said Aaron McAlexander, half of the 13th-place Purdue team. "A lot of the bites we wanted." The trick, as it so often is, was keeping those bites on the line. "I lost a toad in the first five minutes," he said.
McAlexander, who said his team was keying on "big chunk rock" and covering a lot of water, was thinking defensively as well, hoping the cooler conditions would dampen the topwater bite. Low-scoring contests generally favor the underdog, and at launch, his team sat more than 3 pounds outside the cut.
"It's a river system," he said. "I'm not expecting so much change as people are thinking.
For consistency, look to the team from Louisville (10th place, 7-12). Before he boarded his boat, Travis Andres said he and Cody Greenwell would continue to target tall grass and cover as much of the river as they could. "We got low on gas yesterday," he said, noting that he and Greenwell splurged on an extra gas can for the second day.
Frostburg State was among nine teams that zeroed on the first day. As he stood on the dock, Jack Wolf said the first day of competition was essentially Frostburg State's first day of practice, as he and teammate Joseph Murphy had broken down on their 18-hour drive from western Maryland.
The pair covered relatively little water and caught no keepers on Day One. The plan for Day Two: just the opposite.
"We found some tendencies, and we did some homework last night on what they like to bite," Wolf said. "We read a couple of articles on some 10-pound-plus spots. Two 10-pound fish and we're right back in it."
The 2007 event will be televised on ESPNU on Nov. 1 at 2 p.m. ET and Nov. 4 at 11 a.m. ET; and on ESPN2 on Nov. 2 at 5 a.m. ET. Weigh-ins will also be streamed live daily to ESPNoutdoors.com.