Head coach Matt Wells held his weekly press conference along with Riko Jeffers and Travis Bruffy. Wells started off the press conference discussing the game against Kansas State and in theme with Thanksgiving that he is thankful for the senior class:
Just coming off the game Saturday night, really proud of my team. The passion and the fight that they played with, it was very evident. Live it was very evident as I watched the tape. That’s something that I think we made a big improvement on this year. I shared it with our guys early this morning in the team meeting, that their care factor continues to go up because their investment level goes up. And we continue to invest and get off the mat and come compete at a high, high level every week.
Results on the scoreboard aren’t there, not where we want. It’s not the final result that we want. But I will tell you the things behind the scenes are really changing and it’s very process-driven, and I think we have got more and more buy in. You have to have a lot of buy in to win games at this level. I do know this, that the hurt from the last two games, the K State and the TCU game, the hurt in the locker room the day after is a lot higher than it was earlier in the year, like, for instance, the Arizona game. And the reason is, it’s not because they didn’t care then, it’s just because the level of investment is way higher now. So the more you invest, the higher you care. The higher you care, the longer you’re going to hold the rope. Those are things that are maybe not important for the media to hear, but it’s important for me. So I’m just kind of giving you a state of the union right now. So the things behind the scenes in this team meeting room that are starting to turn around are very, very positive and it’s things that continue to inspire me to help get this program where we all want it to be and where Red Raider Nation wants it to be. And that’s in the month of November competing for championships and I truly believe that we’re going to be there very, very soon.
I’m very thankful, as well as grateful, for our senior class. I wish we could have sent those guys out as winners in terms of on the scoreboard in Jones stadium for the last time. Our bowl game will be this week in Austin and that’s how we’ll treat it for those guys. And our guys will be absolutely ready to go into Austin and compete with Texas, which has a good team and a good program, excellent coaching staff, and great leader at quarterback and a lot of long, athletic guys on defense to have to contend with. So with that I’ll open it up for any questions.
I thought the next question was the best question of the press conference, which is with Texas Tech losing so many close games, are they analyzing those things after in the off-season and the answer is basically, “no”:
Q. You mentioned like on Saturday that you guys are really close and there really have been a couple of close losses. How do you address close losses and capitalizing on that? Is that something in the off-season?
MATT WELLS: How do I address what? Close losses? I address them every single game. Every single Monday morning we address them. We go through the plan to win. We address the things that are really good and the things that I need to see improvement on. We’re very direct, we’re very real with them, we don’t wait until the off-season. Will all the close losses get addressed in the off-season? Certainly, yeah, we’re going to dissect that and analyze that, but I can tell you we have analyzed it and dissected it now and we’ll continue to do it and find ways to win those as we go forward and we have a plan already in place for that. I’ve already got good thoughts but we, I don’t think you’re referring to it, but we sure don’t push it away and try to move on to the next opponent. We absolutely analyze the whole game and we go through everything that’s good and things that we need to work on.
I also think that Wells tweeted “Wreck’Em” right before the press conference and that was the commitment of Midland Lee receiver Loic Fouonji and he has never wavered from his comments about how he has to recruit and develop players. I thought it was interesting that he knew how many weeks it has been since he was hired and he’s hoping those investments pay off:
Q. You mentioned behind the scenes and I couldn’t help but notice you posted a (inaudible) right before you came in here. I know you can’t mention the guys, specifically, but how is recruiting going for you so far right now?
MATT WELLS: It’s good. It’s really good. Recruit and develop. Two ways to get this program where we all want it. Recruit every single day. And as I look back just in this first year it’s been 50 weeks since we have been recruiting a lot of these guys. And that 50 weeks was basically the first week that we went out in December a year ago. It was two weeks from today, basically. That motivates me. That inspires me to continue to get this program turned around. It is all about recruiting and it’s about developing your current locker room and our players. That’s why this kind of fires me up, is to see our players really start making the turn, and I think helping turn this locker room around. Because there’s more and more guys that are buying into the core values and our plan to win and the way we do things. I’ve always talked about what you do and how you do it. And the how you do it is more important than the what you do. And the what you do, my example would be X’s and O’s, O, D, special teams, whatever. It’s the how you do it. It’s the discipline, the accountability of being a football junkie, of being accountable to your teammates, player-led leadership, all those things that I believe win games and they win games consistently. We’re starting to do more of them. And when you do that, the how, and you focus on the how, that’s how cultures change. And I think more and more of our guys, I even heard it from a couple of the seniors, some of our top seniors and senior captains, and them validate what we’re doing. That continues to inspire me.
But it’s two things: It’s recruit and develop. I believe we’re a developmental program. And recruiting and development are so important to this foundation. It’s already started. There’s more pieces getting added, there’s some big fish that are jumping in, and I couldn’t be more excited. And I think it’s, I think with you guys, as you can see, the guys that are telling a lot of schools, no, to come to Texas Tech and to believe in our staff and our team and our players, I think is significant and we have to continue to add to this program and develop our locker room and they’re both equally important.
And then the last answer from today is the question (with a relatively apathetic, “Your own, I guess.” from a reporter) about his expectations this year:
Q. As you round down your first year of coaching here, in terms of the first season, what kind of lived up to expectations? What was different than what you maybe you thought you would experience in the first year?
MATT WELLS: Depends on whose expectations.
Q. Your own, I guess.
MATT WELLS: Mine?
MATT WELLS: Two things I promised everybody is our guys would be absolutely prepared, well prepared for every game. Absolutely well-versed in what we’re doing and what they’re doing and be very prepared. And number two, the second thing I promised is that we would play with a passion and a pride that Red Raider fans would be very, very proud of every time they saw their guys.
I wasn’t, I’m not into predicting wins, predicting this or predicting that. If I was really, really good at that I would not be the head football coach at Texas Tech. End of story. So I’m not into that prediction. The fact that we have had five games that we’ve either lost the fourth quarter lead, gone into the fourth quarter with a lead or lost two of them on the last play of the game. Four of them in the Big-12, three points or less, shows you the unpredictability of college football and the parity of this league. Just go look at it. We beat Oklahoma State and now they have run the table. Have they lost since?
Q. They lost to Baylor.
MATT WELLS: Yeah, Baylor at the end, yeah. Okay. So one. I mean, we beat West Virginia by whatever we beat them by, and then look what they have done since. It’s just a league right now that’s really got, Baylor’s playing at a high level, Oklahoma is playing at a really high level. But there’s a lot of parity in the league, and we all knew that and we knew it in the summer. To say that we would go 0-5 in those games that we either had a fourth quarter lead in or last play of the game, I don’t think anybody could predict it. And so what if things turned different in one of those games or two of those games, would we have exceeded your expectations? Say yes, because I saw what you wrote in July. I’m just kidding. Don’t, no, relax, I’m just kidding. But what I’m saying is it depends on whose expectations it is, right? I didn’t read what you wrote. But it depends on whose expectations.
I tell you what, the guys, the way that these kids have continued to invest, and I’m just going over the last probably six weeks since the Baylor game, when they have had emotional disappointment and high emotional games that came down to the wire and they get beat and to see what they come back in and do the next Monday, the next Tuesday in practice, and put themselves out there and get games to the fourth quarter again, I got a lot of respect for that. That’s what tells me this thing’s starting to turn.
Q. Is that because they have been close that it’s starting to change, like you said, like that six weeks ago?
MATT WELLS: Maybe. But I’m still proud of them for, I mean, to see the investment and the emotional disappointment after a game and still pick themselves up when they’re hurting and guys are banged up late in the year, and then you don’t have a chance, you know, you lose one and you don’t have a chance to run the table in November and then you get beat by TCU at the end, very end, and then how do we do it against Kansas State and they have already got bowl eligibility. I mean, that’s every week that our guys are continuing to do it. That’s what gives me more than hope that this thing — that’s evidence to me that this thing’s turning.
RedRaiderSports’ Brandon Soliz recaps the coordinator pressers. I’ve embedded defensive coordinator Keith Patterson above, and then offensive coordinator David Yost just a bit below. I’ll pull from each, but for the entire recap, please visit the link. Here’s a bit from each of them about recruiting.
Patterson: Patterson spoke about recruiting, too. He said right now it’s fairly balanced on what positions they’re targeting. He wants to add guys up front on the defensive line then in the middle at linebacker rounding it out with safeties because they have a lot of cornerback type bodies on the roster right now. They’ll focus on filling the need at safety.
Yost: “So much of recruiting is really the relationship you build with the recruit,” he said. “I think that’s a bigger factor than how big your stadium is, how shiny the helmets are. I mean, the wins and losses, it definitely helps when you’re winning. There’s no question about that but it’s really the relationship and that they want to come play for you. That they see a vision that they can kind of reach their goals and what they want to get done and everything. It’s really the personal side that really I think recruiting comes down to so much of the time. And, our coaches have worked tirelessly since we got here especially on this class because we were behind on the last one … It’s a constant moving picture.”