Changes are underway as Texas Tech prepares for the 2019 football season under new head coach Matt Wells, who has taken a different approach in coaching in hopes of improving on the shortcomings of his predecessor.
Last season, the Red Raiders finished their season 5-7 overall while going 3-6 in conference play, according to sports-reference.com. The disappointing season ultimately led to former coach Kliff Kingsbury’s termination after coaching the Red Raiders for six years.
Kingsbury’s best season came in 2013, his first with the team, as the Red Raiders started 7-0 before sliding to an 8-5 finish. Despite a perfect start that caught the attention of the college football world, Kingsbury failed to ever lead the Red Raiders back to an 8-5 record in the ensuing five seasons.
With the program needing a new direction after failing to ever reach the success of 2013, Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt hired Wells to lead the Tech football team in the right direction. Wells coached at Utah State for six years and made the move to Lubbock after coaching the Aggies to a 10-2 record last year. In 2018, Wells led Utah State to as high as No. 14 in the AP polls but the Aggies finished their season at No. 22.
At the 2019 Big 12 Football Media Day, Wells said he was humbled to be the head coach for the Tech football team but his priority is to win games and coach the Red Raiders to a winning season.
In Wells’ 2018 season with Utah State, the Aggies scored 47.5 points per game which ranked second in college football, second only to Oklahoma’s 48.4 points per game.
Although his Utah State team scored at a high rate, Wells said the key to a successful team is good offensive and defensive line.
With an emphasis on creating a successful offensive and defensive line, Wells said he respects the Red Raider football team for going along with the coaching changes as they head into the 2019 season.
“I respect our players, the changes they’ve gone through since December 1,” Wells said at the Big 12 Media Day broadcast on FS2. “The biggest thing for us as we get into August for us it’s a brand new program transitioning into our program. Taking it from one level to the next and the work that we’ve done over the summer, I know we’ve worked hard.”
“18 days from now, August 2, needs to be practice 16 coming out of spring ball and I’m excited about the work that we got coming up in August,” Wells continued.
Wells said while he tries to build a winning program, the goal his first season coaching the Red Raiders is to establish a culture.
“The biggest key for us in year one is instilling our culture, building our foundation and we always talk about it at Tech and at Lubbock, what we do and how we do it,” Wells said at the Big 12 Media Day. “The what we do is, what we do on offense, what we do on defense, our weight room, strength and conditioning with a major emphasis in nutrition, class, academics and all that kind of stuff but the key is to the how, and that’s the biggest thing for us in year one is establishing the how. The accountability, the (physicality), the toughness, the discipline, mental and physical, and the how and a lot of people say that’s culture and that’s exactly what it is.”
Along with establishing a culture and building a foundation with Tech football team, Wells has made it a priority to improve the Red Raiders’ defense in the offense-dominated conference.
“I think the biggest thing to consistently winning in the Big 12 for my tenure here at Texas Tech is we have to play championship-caliber defense,” Wells said at the Big 12 Media Day. “We talk about our plan to win, the first thing on our plan to win is to play great defense. There’s not a time to me that’s ever more challenging than to play that in the Big 12 then right now.”
Wells continued to say that the Big 12 is one of the hardest conferences in college football to play defense with the talent at the quarterback and wide receiver positions along with the play calling in the conference.
As this is Wells’ first year with the Red Raiders, some questioned if his coaching style would work with the roster that he was left with, but Wells said he believes he has the assets that he needs to run his offense.
One area that Wells believes that Tech could improve upon is at the tight end position. Since Jace Amaro’s departure in 2013, Tech has lacked a transcendent tight end in either the rushing or passing attack, with Kingsbury largely phasing the tweener position out of his offense.
“We’re going to continue to develop that tight end position, we’re going to continue to recruit that tight end position, but I think there are several candidates there to be able to look at,” Wells said at the Big 12 Media Day. “It could be a committee, it could be several (tight ends) that you see but I think those guys are talented enough to do what we’re going to do.”
The Red Raiders look to start their football season off on August 31 against Montana State at 3 p.m. at the Jones AT&T Stadium, where Wells will get his first chance to showcase the changes he’s brought to the program.