Head coach Matt Wells met with the media for his weekly press conference along with Broderick Washington and Terence Steele. Let’s get to the injuries first, namely that Jordyn Brooks is day-to-day and will be a game-time decision as well as everyone else. Dalton Rigdon does have a concussion, but no broken jaw and he is in the concussion protocol.
Let’s get to what Wells has learned from the 16 seniors this year:
Q. Speaking of the seniors, what have you learned from this group that decided to stay here through the coaching change?
MATT WELLS: I learned probably — I think I learned from them, saw their toughness. I think their resiliency, their ability to adapt and change. A lot of things we asked them to do to change. Change habits, change the way they live their life, change the way they go to class and they lift and quite frankly how we do ball. They have bought in, and they’ve done a nice job with that. Certainly some of them have played more than others, and certainly some of them are — they’ve had more on-the-field success, but within this team meeting room and within our locker room, they’re all certainly in the same boat, and every single one of them respect and I appreciate — they’ll always be my first senior class here at Texas Tech. They come from a lot of different walks of life, and like I said, we mentioned earlier, some of them have been here longer, some shorter, some grad transfers in there, some fifth-year seniors, guys that came in as walk-ons that have earned scholarships, guys that have been four-year starters, all that stuff. So it kind of comprises a lot of different ways to get here and get to there.
But I’m proud of them and the contributions they’ve made.
Wells was asked about whether or not the team is playing with a sense of urgency:
Q. Does the sense of urgency kind of change a little bit for this team now with bowl eligibility?
MATT WELLS: No, we had a sense of urgency last week. We didn’t start good. We’ve got to be real careful with that, of evaluating a sense of urgency and a mindset and how you play exactly. Sometimes that’s not always reflective of a mindset. At times it is. But I think our sense of urgency was good. I think it has been. We went to West Virginia knowing we had our back against the wall and we had to win that one, and we did. We needed to win last week. We did. We absolutely need to win now. There’s no question. There’s two left, we need to be 2-0. We all know that.
But I don’t look at and point a finger to, oh, we didn’t have a sense of urgency last week, no way, not the way we practiced which is getting a little bit better. It’s a fair question, but I don’t think it’s accurate in this point.
There’s also some discussion about how Wells said that if the offense had gained any yards on the 3rd and 9 inside the TCU red zone, that he would have gone for it. I’m not all that interested in what if’s, but please click on over and read if that interests you.
Wells was asked about if a must-win will change how aggressive he coaches.
Q. With these games as literal must-wins for a bowl game, you’ve talked all season about the smart things in certain series. Do you see yourself being more aggressive in the last couple games just because the postseason is on the line?
MATT WELLS: Yeah. I mean, how many times did we go for it against West Virginia on 4th down? I think we were pretty aggressive two weeks ago. We really didn’t have many 4th down — I don’t know of any that I really had a tough decision to make Saturday in terms of 4th down calls, going for it or punting it, field goals. It was just kind of weird that way, against West Virginia we had quite a few. We went for it, we got successful, we gained confidence in it, and we were way more aggressive. Now, the mindset going into it was we were going to be aggressive. But it’s just D-and-D, where you’re at in the game, the score, do you need momentum, all that kind of stuff. That’s what every coach, I think, has to deal with.
Wells was also asked about if Dadrion Taylor (i.e. “Rabbit”) could play running back:
Q. Is there any thought with all the injuries at running back to moving a guy like Rabbit —
MATT WELLS: Yeah, I’d love to move Rabbit. I thought about it two weeks ago. That’s not fair to him. I can’t do that to him. I mean, and try to come play in the offense, just with terminology. If it was in high school, you’ve got a lot of those guys that have grown up in the system, they’ve played both ways and then they become juniors or seniors and they just play one way and then they can flip back over late in their career. I don’t think that’s fair. This is a high school tailback that’s got asked to play DB here the minute he got here. I certainly think he could do it physically, but as fast as we play and how we signal and all that kind of stuff, that would be putting him in a bad position.
But maybe in the future, you know. We have to train him in training camp and spring ball, but he is certainly a candidate to do that athletically.
Q. Is there anyone else who could also —
MATT WELLS: I think Doug Coleman could play tailback. I do. But with two games to go, that’s not fair. SaRodorick and Ta’Zhawn and Jax Welch will do a good job, and they’ve been doing a good job and everything, but when one or two of those guys get hurt and you’re down to one, yeah, those thoughts creep in.
Also, in watching the game live, I had no idea that Adam Beck was playing linebacker (I guess I need to see the forest through the trees):
Q. And Adam Beck?
MATT WELLS: How well? He played extremely well. I’m so proud of that guy. He played very well. For a guy that has not been in Coach Patterson’s meeting room all year and being a DB, to go in to play Sam linebacker against an offense that’s going to line up in empty and all the adjustments I just mentioned earlier, I don’t need to repeat that, and to see him make — he made a few mistakes, but I’ll tell you what, he played with passion, he played fast, played behind the line of scrimmage at times, and I was really, really proud of Adam Beck.
And I’ll end with how the young guys are embracing the fundamentals:
Q. The youth you’ve got on both sides of the ball in some places, I know there’s two more games left to go this year with possibly a third, but what are some fundamentals that that young group has really embraced that you guys have been coaching that you can take into next season?
MATT WELLS: The young guys?
MATT WELLS: I think the young guys, the thing that I like about the young guys that are playing is they’re competitive, and teaching them to continue to play with passion and pride and the competitiveness, and a lot of that’s already inbred in some of them, but Alex Hogan, Tony Bradford, Dadrion Taylor, those three guys that are playing a lot on defense, Tyrique Matthews a little bit, a lot on special teams, those guys are competitors. They practice good. You see them playing, they play hard, and I appreciate that. That’s going to take those guys a long ways. They’re getting great experience right now. But they’re playing good. They’re not just getting the experience, I think they’re playing pretty well.
Avalanche-Journal’s Don Williams has a notebook of the presser yesterday including the note that former Red Raider footballer James Gray was inducted into the Southwest Hall of Fame.
RedRaiderSports’ Brandon Soliz recaps the media sessions with the two coordinators, David Yost and Keith Patterson. There’s lots more at the link, but here’s a bit from each coordinator, starting with Yost on who will play inside receiver with Rigdon possibly out:
– Mannix has been the main guy at the slot receiver position with help from Dalton Rigdon, according to Yost. He said they continue to rotate at the position based on injuries. Xavier White was making flashes but his season was cut short because of that injury reason. Yost said KeSean Carter worked at that position all of spring but Xavier Martin has been consistent in that spot throughout his season. Both Martin and Carter can fill in there if needed.
And Patterson on the future of the defense:
– Patterson said the future looks bright for the Red Raider defense. He said he and Brooks had a discussion about that topic when watching the second half against TCU. At one point, four freshmen were on the field at different levels of the defense. He added guys like Brooks, Broderick Washington and Douglas Coleman have helped the young players out by showing up and working every day. They need to take what they learn from those four close losses and turn things around. Another sign of hope is watching those young guys experience firsthand what they can do on the field, which in turn makes them excited for their own future.