Takeaways: Texas Tech shifts focus to Saturday night game against UTEP
Coach Matt Wells addressed the media on Monday to begin game week for Saturday night's action between the Red Raiders and the UTEP Miners. Here's how that went down inside the team meeting room.
Wells' thoughts on UTEP's coaching staff:
"UTEP week, we have a little bit of a start on them last night and this morning. UTEP has a coaching staff that's very veteran, some that I am very familiar with. Dana Dimel is a veteran coach that is a very good football coach, has hired very good guys around him. All three coordinators I know. Joe Rob used to be here at Texas Tech, veteran special teams guy, highly thought of around the country. Chico Canales, good friend of mine, former Utah State quarterback, known him forever. Has done a phenomenal job throughout his career coordinating offenses, getting quarterbacks ready to play. He will no doubt have those guys ready to play. Mike Cox, veteran defensive coordinator. Coach Cox was at Utah State when I played as a junior and senior. I'm very familiar with all of them. Keith Burns, I worked for him for one year. Those guys are veterans. They'll have their guys ready to play. They're well-coached. That's a good staff coach Dimel has put together at UTEP."
Wells on UTEP's personnel:
"Very early in the week. The analysis of them right now, really good back, 19 (Treyvon Hughes) is a good back. Could have either one of two quarterbacks, which are dual-threat guys. Very big up front on the offensive line. They're very big on the D-line up the middle. Three guys right at 300 pounds. In terms of their front seven on the defense, I think both safeties are really good players. They can come off the hash and put their hat on guys. I think they tackle well."
Wells said he thought the defense played pretty solid on opening day. The Red Raider defense held the Montana State Bobcats to 289 yards, which was the fewest yards allowed to an opponent in a season opener since 2012. Texas Tech held Northwestern State to 84 yards eight years ago.
Montana State was held to 2-of-16 on third downs during the game. After week one, Texas Tech's defense ranks 49th in the country in total defense per game, which finishes fifth in the Big 12 – the only conference to go undefeated in week one.
"The first I think five series, three-and-outs on defense. That's a good way to start the game. I thought Broderick (Washington) set the tone with a (tackle for loss) on the first third-and-short play for us. I think kind of set the tone on defense. Didn't have any takeaways. Certainly that's a big part of our game plan and who we are. Except if you count the two fourth-down stops. I know you don't count it, the stats don't count it, but we do internally. You look at their possessions, this is kind of how we evaluate defense. They had 15 possessions, 10 times they had absolutely no chance to score. Eight three-and-outs on the day, two fourth-down stops. That will be the kind of production we need every single week to be able to play great defense, change the culture around here on defense."
Wells on the offense:
"Offensively we had the one turnover. Very, very correctable mistake. But we will live with one turnover or less a game. That's kind of who we want to be."
"I thought we protected Alan (Bowman) very well. I thought the offensive line as a group played well. Travis Bruffy had an excellent game, probably our best player up there in terms of individual efforts. I thought Alan was very efficient. He directed the offense very well. Decision making, couple things that broke down, a couple DBs jumped some screens, ballon the ground on a snap when he took his eyes off the snap. He reacted in the right way, threw it out, got us to the next play. The communication from he to coach (David) Yost to myself on the sidelines, thought it was really clean. I thought he was clearheaded. He saw what he needed to see. I put a premium on that with quarterbacks just in can they verbalize what they're seeing out there. You know if they're into the game or not. He certainly was."
Running backs "Shyne" in game one
Armand Shyne's debut in a Red Raider uniform was special as the Utah transfer rushed for 125 yards on the day with 69 of those gains on one attempt that resulted in a touchdown.
Wells said the three-back tandem is something he spoke about before kickoff and that he stuck with through and through. Red Raider fans can expect a mix of that going forward with someone sticking it out in the second half as they'll go with the hot hand.
"The rotation at back was about what we wanted, which was just kind of like I said it to you last week. Now you guys start to know I'm telling you the truth. We do rotate them. That was going to be about a third. Ta'Zhawn played seven or eight snaps more than the other two. That's about what we want. I believe that will keep those guys fresh. I believe the reps are cumulative throughout the season on the hits those backs take. That's about what we want. We'll probably end up playing the guy who has the hot hand in the second half of the game."
Wells said it's about divvying up the carries at running back but also mentioned doing that throughout the offense when you run 95 plays per game.
Competition wise, his players will see that benefiting them and their health going forward. Wells said each guy will feel fresher and read to go when they buy-in to the concept of splitting reps.
What is Wells' role exactly?
Wells was asked to break down his coaching style at what to expect from him.
For example, Wells said he's been told there hasn't been an offensive coordinator in the press box calling plays since the Spike Dykes days.
Here's how Wells' role goes on game day.
"I think I'm on both headsets. I'm making a decent amount of calls in terms of the kicking game with coach (Mark) Tommerdahl. I help Coach Yost in terms of going for it, punting, kicking field goals, all that kind of stuff. You just manage the game from a head coaching situation, time management, your timeouts, substitutions, special teams substitutions, special teams adjustments, a handful of offensive adjustments, looking at what they do on offense to help the defense in any way I can. (Keith Patterson) is going to call all the defensive calls, Coach Yost calls all the offensive calls. I'm involved, I guess I would say, on everything. I'm in both meeting rooms throughout the week, making a lot of personnel decisions. Special teams, very highly involved in special teams. Coach Tommerdahl does a great job with that himself."
Playing starters late against Montana State
Wells opened up about keeping his starters in late in the game. Some may have interpreted that into getting more reps for the first and second teams but Wells said that was not the case against Montana State.
Was the game in hand?
"No, the game was not in hand. We had a fourth down -- third-and-nine stop. We forced a missed kick. Three or four plays later Xavier goes for a touchdown, and that made it 38-7. At that point I thought the game was checkmate, to be real honest with you.
"If they score at that point with 12 minutes to go in the game, it's 31-14. I'm going to say they make the extra-point. That's a two-possession ballgame. 12 minutes togo. Don't think my mind wasn't racing at how many possessions are left in the football game. Is that on-side kick coming? That game was not in hand until that point in the game."
Backup QB solidified?
Wells put in Jackson Tyner, the graduate transfer from Rice, in the game when he decided to pull Bowman.
Tyner's body of work over the past two weeks is what put him ahead of Jett Duffey on the depth chart and allowed him to enter the game.
Wells said this week coach Yost will continue to evaluate both quarterbacks and make that decision before UTEP. He added both need to improve but overall the competition there is good.
However, both will have limited reps to win that second-string job as Bowman will receive all reps with the ones in practice and a big chunk of plays in practice with the twos as well.