The Texas Tech football team had its first team practice under head coach Matt Wells on Sunday, March 3, inside the Sports Performance Center.
The Red Raiders will practice three days a week for the spring football season because Wells said it gives days in between practices to look at film and be better prepared for the next one.
“This is ball, it’s practice one, and this is what we live for, to get to out here with our guys and the players and really see them for the very first time,” Wells said. “You’re still learning a lot of their names, but you are getting to coach them for the very first time and see how they react and see where they are at. It’s just a starting point.”
Under a new offensive scheme, Wells said sophomore Alan Bowman threw the ball well and had a decent handle on the new offense during practice.
“It’s definitely crazy because I’ve been here two years now, and I have to learn two new offenses, and so each January I pretty much learned a whole new language because that’s what it is,” Bowman said. “Relatively the same concepts and the same things, but it’s all different signals, language, so it’s been hard but its been good. Coach Wells has helped me out, all the coaches have been willing to help whenever I need.”
The best part of the first practice was seeing the players want to please, Wells said. After some of the coaching staff and a few players and leaders on the team left after last year, new ones have emerged.
“I would just say, do the little things right (to be a better leader),” Bowman said. “Do the little things right, show up every day, get to work and then, I’m going to be that ‘ra ra guy,’ but kind of when you need to be. I’m not going to be screaming in everybody’s face. I think lead by example is a huge thing and like I said, productivity, show what you do on the field, and then when you get in that locker room then kind of hug them, put your arm around them and lead in there.”
Last season, Bowman threw 2,638 yards and 17 touchdowns while completing 69.4 percent of his passes, according to Tech Athletics. He was only able to play in eight games after being limited because of injuries throughout the season.
“Basically, where my lung popped, scar tissue built over that lung, it's actually stronger than the actual lung muscle,” Bowman said. “So I’m full force, no stopping, I’m excited and I’m not holding back.”
Along with the offensive and defensive changes, Tech football has seen coaching changes as well. Wells said he hired outside receivers coach Joel Filani in under 24 hours, and the associate head coach Mark Tommerdahl in three hours.
“Joel’s tape is his resume,” Wells said. “The way his guys played at North Texas, to me, I’m going to hire a guy off that than a piece of paper.”
Filani played for Tech and was a two-time All-Big 12 first team selection and recorded 2,667 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns as a Red Raider from 2003-06, according to Tech Athletics.
“It feels right,” Filani said. “It was an easy decision to make (to coach at Tech) when it came, I had to come get interviewed, so it was a situation where I hoped I did well and didn’t blow it. I’m happy to be back.”
As an alumnus, Filani said he watched Tech and saw how it was doing before he was hired as the outside receivers coach, so he was kind of familiar with a few of the players.
“We got to get in shape, you know we run a lot more than I think they’ve run before,” Filani said. “With a tempo offense, we got to get in better shape. But I think it was a good first day. The kids, they bought into it. The offense, we executed a little bit. So if we get in better shape, we’ll be fine.”
As the first practice ended, Bowman said he thought the team did well despite the changes from last season and had a message for his teammates.
“Just kind of let it loose. It’s going to be the first day, even the coaches are nervous, we’re all nervous, it’s a new play, we're all going fast,” Bowman said. “Have fun and let loose, we’re out here playing football again. It’s been a while since we’ve been able to do that, so just come out here and have fun.”
The Red Raiders’ first scrimmage will be at 2 p.m. March 30, at Jones AT&T Stadium for the Lubbock Scrimmage. They will then have a Midland Scrimmage at 7 p.m. April 5, at the Grande Communications Stadium. The final spring scrimmage will be the Texas Tech Spring Game at 2 p.m. April 13 at The Star In Frisco.