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August 26, 2019

Matt Wells

Lubbock, Texas

MATT WELLS: Montana State week, opening week. Coming off an 8-5 regard. Second round in the playoffs. Got a lot of starters back. 13 or 14 depending upon how you look at it with the QB's and the linebackers and all that stuff. But Jeff Choate, head coach, got a lot of respect for, known him for long time, he is, in our profession, is one of the higher thought of special teams coordinators in the country. A lot of people respect him and the work that he does in terms of special teams. Just being out west in the last eight years Jeff's got a great reputation. They're very aggressive, very sound, but yet very aggressive. The teams -- to say that him turning around this Montana State program surprises me is not true, it doesn't surprise me one bit. He's a solid coach, he's got a great reputation, good young staff. And this is a good team he's got coming back. On offense they're led by that O line. Experienced, a little younger, they're not all seniors, but very, very experienced. A talented young quarterback and running back. You look at them on defense there's two Washington transfers, one just this year on that D-line, big, strong, young men up front. They're very deep at linebacker. Troy Anderson, first of all, is kind of the modern day hero in my opinion. I mean, a two-way player, guys like -- and I'll say it in the Big-12 country here, it's kind of like the Mountain version of Collin Klein is kind of who he looks like. Big strong, athletic, Collin didn't play linebacker, but this guy can play both ways, they will play him both ways. And then a talented safety, Virginia Tech transfer, a guy that was all-conference kid last year, No. 5, they got a solid team, specialists coming back, it's a very, very good team that's coming in here. We'll have to be very well prepared, we'll have to be very ready for this team, but I look at Montana State and the job that Jeff's done, Coach Choate, and that like I said before, it doesn't surprise me.

This is a team that, defensively, for us, we have to and do already have a very definitive plan. Good young quarterback, they could possibly play four quarterbacks at one point in the game, there's a wildcat package with two different guys and then you got Troy going over there to play QB in a per se wildcat package and all the stuff that they can do with him and his experience in that offense. So you're preparing, you're really preparing for four, potential four different quarterbacks, athletic, big, strong, and then Bauman, the young kid, that's I think a talent that we look forward to competing against all those guys. But that's a major challenge for our guys, I wish we were playing them game three where you have at least a couple games of evidence on them, but we're not, so we'll be ready. But that's a challenge for our defense that's already been addressed and starting to be installed and continue obviously this week, but we have a tremendous amount of respect for Montana State. Home opener, excited for us to finally almost going to be nine months to the day that Kirby made the phone call for me and our staff, but we're excited to play in Jones stadium. Need 60,000, 13,420 students and we will, if there's more that want to come, Kirby said they would find more student tickets for any of our students that want to come. But we hope they will come out and support our guys. I see the weather report's going to be a little cooler, still Texas hot though, but a little cooler than what we have been used to here in Lubbock the last month, six weeks, and so that will be nice for the fans and our alumni coming to watch us play. But we're excited to play in front of you in Jones stadium and just we under understand how important it is for us to play well at home in front of our fans and you're our alumni and the players that have played in this program before us. We take that as an honor to do that but also a tremendous responsibility to play well in front of our home people. So with that we'll go ahead and open it up for any questions.

Q. Obviously you talked about Anderson and the way he plays two different roles. Tech's seen it in Joel Lanning from Iowa State, but how many times have you scouted a guy like that and how do you go about it?
MATT WELLS: Not many. A little bit -- we have done it at Utah State with some of our players, but they were linebackers playing running back, not so much quarterback. Troy's a talented guy. I can tell you just from watching him on tape, not knowing him, not ever meeting him, I think I would like to coach him, just tough, physical, a leader, I'm sure, I'm sure a very team-oriented culture kind of guy, playing both sides of the ball. I bet he's a tremendous leader for Coach Choate and them.

Q. Last year with him they were very run heavy, do you expect them to be a little bit different?
MATT WELLS: Could be. But he's a talent throwing the ball. You look at Troy's stats from last year I think almost 1,500 yards and 1,200 yards, I mean both running and the pass, that's impressive. To rush for a thousand, throw for a thousand plus with both of those guys. But we anticipate the QB throwing it a little bit more, but you have all the wildcat packages that they can bring in with all the different types of wildcat QB's, so your number of rushes are probably going to be up there a little bit too.

Q. You mentioned cross training and that's what you've been doing with some of these DB's, is that something you have a lot of experience with at Utah State as well? Did you do that a lot there with that defense?
MATT WELLS: Yeah, we talked about it the other day, a lot of cross training with the DB's as well as the O line. At times the receiver position. We have kind of quieted that down a little bit for our receivers right now, they're just outside or they're just inside right now. But like to cross train the DB's, I like to cross train the linebackers at a couple different spots, especially with a veteran linebacker -- we don't do it much with young linebackers, and then we certainly do it with the O line. And then at some point you start to sort of settle in who your guys are in certain spots.

Q. Have you come to a decision on a backup quarterback and if not will that be more closer to a game-time decision?
MATT WELLS: Probably closer to game time, but I certainly think in that position it will be Jett as well as Jackson and it could potentially be both of them if we needed them.

Q. What did Tyrique show you in practice to slot him number one?
MATT WELLS: Tyrique, first of all is a maybe a little bit beyond his years mature for a freshman. Smart, picked up our schemes well. Very durable, training camp available, I think that's your best availability is sometimes is your durability. He was there every day, he made plays and he's matured enough to handle it. So he's going to be right there in the mix.

Q. Anyone coming on as a starting kicker or is there still --
MATT WELLS: That will be a game-time decision. We're going to let that -- got some talented kickers, all three of them really, Garibay has been a little limited at the beginning of training camp and so he's really just been kicking full-time here in the last week. So we will let that kicking competition -- because I think they're all talented -- go down through Thursday Friday and that will kind of be a game-time decision as well as the deep snapper position, we're going to let those guys continue to battle that out through out the week.

Q. Seems like every receiver has, nothing has been totally set except for Eric as a starter. What have you seen from him in the off-season that you were so confident in him?
MATT WELLS: Eric is another one that's available every single day at practice and I respect that. He's very durable, he's taken more live snaps than anyone at receiver in spring as well as training camp. So the amount of reps that he's taken is a lot. Made play after play in the spring, was an improved receiver throughout all three scrimmages, finishing up there in Frisco for the spring game. And then he's kind of done that, he's kind of picked up right where he left off, literally practice one was practice 16 for Eric. Again, another young guy, although he played in a few games last year, a red shirt freshman that is mature, practices mature, makes good decisions, the kind of the young man that he is, Eric is going to have a bright future here at Tech and I'm excited to watch in the next four years with that kid in this offense.

Q. What separates Ta'Zhawn from the other running backs?
MATT WELLS: Not much right now. Probably just a little bit of game day Texas Tech experience right now. He'll take the first rep on Saturday. Armand will be the next one in, SaRodorick will be the next one in, you'll see all three of them. On a consistent kind of rotation basis early in the game, early in the year, we'll play the hot one in the second half, especially as it gets to the fourth quarter, that's kind of always been our MO. But I also believe in keeping those backs fresh, they're all three good enough to win games, we truly believe that, and so they will all three play.

Q. What does Terrence Steele's status?
MATT WELLS: It will be a game-time decision.

Q. Has he been practicing at all?

Q. Eric, what does he physically bring that's just different from the other guys you have on the roster? Obviously showing up or making amazing plays, but what does he bring with his physical skills?
MATT WELLS: A really good blocker plays with a good base, hands inside, strong, he's able to high point a ball, he makes competitive catches, unlike or like, excuse me, some of our other receivers. I think we have a good, I think that's probably one of the better things that we do at receiver right now is competitive catches. Caden Leggett, TJ Vasher stand out in that area for me right now. But EZ is, he's, right now he's playing at a high level. I look forward to watching him play this year.

Q. The receiver rotation, do you prefer, how much do you prefer the second lineup?
MATT WELLS: With the way we play offense it will kind of just depend how much whether it's two thirds to a third, it's half and half, it will kind of depend on individual performances as the week goes on we get closer to making that final decision at the end of the week, or during in game. But I will tell you, fairly common for us is to play four outside receivers. You'll see two at both sides. It won't surprise me if in this first game in the first few games with the heat and all of that if we don't get to five and six. Now five and six won't play near as much as the starters at that spot, but I think you'll see four guys fairly consistently here early in the year and whether that's 50/50 or it's 65/35, I can't give you that today.

Q. Do you feel like your offensive personnel are equipped to run the fast pace?
MATT WELLS: Better than in the spring. We're so much faster than we were in the spring. I don't think we're where we need to be or where Coach Yost wants us to be, but we have certainly made good progress in that and I think our guys are understanding what a weapon it can be for us at how fast you play. And really it's not so much the skill guys it's the O linemen because as fast as they get down is as fast as we play.

Q. Is it more a challenge physically or mentally?
MATT WELLS: I think it's fairly equal. Fairly equal. And then it's just physical from there on out and I think we're in pretty good shape. We have been practicing in the heat, we have been practicing at 2 o'clock as ya'll know for the most part, but I think we're ready for the heat.

Q. What have you seen from Alan Bowman that's impressed you so far?
MATT WELLS: Just his ability, I think continual buy-in in our program with me, with David Yost, and how that relates to his leadership with the rest of the players. I think he's taken a really a step in the, in a positive way in terms of the leadership the last half of camp. And I think as you have a starting quarterback, guys are able to rally around them a little bit and there's a sense of comfort with the guys with him and his performance. And I think, first of all, the first step of leadership is production. You got to produce as a leader. And I think the last half of training camp he's been very consistent, he's made really good decisions in practice and I look for that to continue on Saturday.

Q. For Zach and Evan to both come in as transfers and be starters week one, what does that say about what they were able to come in and do with a shorter amount of time than others?
MATT WELLS: Well I think it speaks to their ability to learn a new defense and a new scheme, relate it to them in their mind -- because so many times you do that and you say, same as, in terms of a player's mind it's same as this. And the quicker you can do that, the more comfortable you become. The more comfortable you become I think the quicker you're able to allow your talents to play. Evan and Zach have been, they fit right into this culture from day one. They're exactly what we were looking for in the grad transfer process. Tremendous workers, great young men, that have had good experience at the places they have been at and they look forward to having a good experience here at Texas Tech. Again the bonus with those two guys is they're both juniors and they got two years left.

Q. How would you assess what you've seen from the left side of the offensive line so far?
MATT WELLS: The left side? In terms of what?

Q. (No microphone.)
MATT WELLS: Oh, because I was going to let you know we play with three more. Usually you talk in terms of the whole group, because if the left side does well and somebody screws it up or we don't communicate on the right side, it looks like they're all doing bad, right? So really they're a fist, all five of them got to play together and if one is off they're all off. But in terms of the left side, multiple guys going in at tackle, I mean we have rotated that. Steele can play both sides, Bruffy can play both sides, Casey can play both sides. Madison and Weston have both played the left guard spot. I think that those guys are, I think now as we have gone through our installation they become a lot more comfortable with it. And I say our installation because we don't change a whole lot, we have gone through it a few times in the spring and then three or four times in training camp. I think they've become more comfortable with it. But we will play into that as well. I think you got to get playing experience and together in a certain offense and that's one of the spots on our team that has more game experience than other spots, but it's game experience in this offense too and hopefully we're better week two than we are week one and there's a certain amount of playing through some things in our offense and getting very comfortable -- you can only scrimmage so many times in training camp.

Q. What you have you seen from Jordyn Brooks and Travis Bruffy just in terms of their leadership and how they've helped you?
MATT WELLS: Really good. Jordyn has taken the leadership and being elected one of the captains I think he's taken a step forward in that. Naturally a quiet guy, naturally a very serious guy that I think understands that his leadership is by production and how he plays, but also he has earned the right to lead vocally. And when it's time for him to speak up I truly believe that his teammates listen and I think there's more opportunities for him to do that.

Bruffy will be basically the governor of Texas some day, we all know that. He'll probably solicit some votes here today after his press conference. And so has no problem talking and but Travis Bruffy has bought in 100 percent since the first day we have been here since December the 1st. They both have. I respect Travis, he's gone back and forth two tackle spots, it doesn't really matter, he just wants to play ball, guy's got a lot of game experience, he's a good football player, we'll need his leadership and his production this year to have a great year on offense.

Q. A couple of the guys that were put on scholarship the other day on depth chart. Where does that rank in some of those rewarding parts of coaching for you?
MATT WELLS: Number one, it always is. Any time you're able to put non-scholarship guys on a scholarship that have earned it and have the respect of your teammates, I think that's a great moment for any head coach and I certainly take pride in that. We have put a lot of -- in the last six years I've been the head coach, we put a lot of on scholarship and I think to build up the program through the walk on program is a part of the foundation of the culture of this program. We want to have that and I know that was big when Coach Dykes was here and I want to build that up. It's just part of -- you have the recruiting, the high school recruiting, you have the walk on program, you have your transfer, grad transfers and all that, in this day and age, but I think that's certainly a big part of it. Jax Welch got named captain, I think that's big, I think it's rewarding, because there's so many people that go into that kid's life for him to be able to earn that. Their high school coaches, to see them call their parents, somebody was footing the bill for their college and I just think that that's, when it's earned, it's an awesome moment. And then I think you can see the reaction of your players too to know if it's well earned or not. Because they know. You're never fooling the locker room. And that was a great moment for us the other night at the end of training camp.

Q. A lot of people have put all this work into this process since December. But what's it going to mean for you when you go out the tunnel and see a packed stadium for the first game in a Power Five conference?
MATT WELLS: I can't wait. I mean it's exciting. You'll your game day butterflies, which to me are anxious butterflies, that means you're prepared. You just, you understand the moment and you're being in the moment. Nervous butterflies are when you're not prepared. We have prepared for this moment, I've prepared for this moment for a long time, so has our staff, so has our players. To run behind Fearless I think it will be fun. I think it will be pretty awesome to see 60,000 in there and we need their help, loud. The Raider power chants, I can't wait. It's just a tremendous opportunity for us to start off and give Raider Nation Red Raider Nation a product, a team that they're proud of and that they deserve and that knows that we're going to play with a tremendous amount of passion every Saturday, every gameday we'll be extremely well prepared and that's what you can expect out of our teams.

Q. (No microphone.)
MATT WELLS: He's played outside, he's played a little bit of inside. But that all matters -- I mean that doesn't matter until you line up in a formation on offense. I mean if they line up in a formation that looks like a phone booth and everybody's standing right in there, all your backers will be inside. If they line up numbers to numbers, everybody gets spread out and only Jordyn's on the inside. So it just, it depends on the formation.

Q. (No microphone.)
MATT WELLS: Rehab, practicing, he'll be back into the practice swing here in a few weeks at some point and hopefully we'll have him back soon.

Q. Assuming because he's on the depth chart the answer would be yes, but if he were to go down would you feel comfortable putting Jamarcus out there?
MATT WELLS: I would anticipate Jamarcus playing for sure in some special teams situations Saturday and potentially on defense we'll see how the rest of the week goes.

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