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September 9, 2019

Matt Wells

Lubbock, Texas

MATT WELLS: Okay. Saturday night, good win. Did just exactly what we needed to do. Very proud of our guys. Our preparation I think has been pretty intentional the last two weeks and so I'm proud of our guys. Thankful for our crowd. I thought the increased attendance was noticeable. You could hear. It thankful for our students. I appreciate the Tech students coming out.

I think there was 1,500 more than the week before, and that was noticeable if we can get that next jump at the next home game. That will be huge. But I appreciate them coming out, all of them. The ones that were loud and the ones that stood up and cheered, they were really, really proud. I'm just thankful for them and want to create a great game day environment and recognize that we have to put a good thing product out on the field, and we're going to keep trying to do our part and I just -- I'm thankful for our fans and the community that came out and especially the Tech students, because there was a lot more of them. Appreciative of them.

This week, Arizona. Arizona will be the most talented team we've played so far. Obviously their skill is really good. Khalil Tate has been there for several years. Very familiar with him. Dual-threat guy. Throws the ball very well and when he pulls it and runs, he's a threat to hit a home run every single time.

21, 23 is a good thing combo, running backs. They, again, they -- shifty, but they got home run speed, and you saw that, or you've seen that on tape, we have so far. The two linebackers are the two guys that really make their team go, 1 and 7, just watching them early this morning. This year, studied them a lot over the summer and early summer, those two guys can play Schooler and Fields, and man, what a combo Marcel has, really, to kind of build a defense around.

Speaking of their staff, known Coach Sumlin for quite a while and respect him. Both coordinators we had gone against as a staff. Coach Patterson has gone against Coach Mazzone when he was at UCLA in the Pac 12 several years ago. We've gone against Marcel a couple years at Boise, Utah State, had some good battles out there in the west, so we are very familiar with their staff in terms of their coordinators and all that.

But a very, very talented, skillful team that if you let it turn you into a track meet, they will let you get in trouble real, real quick and they have the speed to hit home runs and they are very talented.

With that, I'll go ahead and open it up for any questions.

Q. What type of athlete has he developed into --
MATT WELLS: Early on to, trying to recruit him and then it got too big for us. But he's a triple-triple, which is essentially what they are doing. He's a threat to run it more than a lot of other quarterbacks. He can flip it out on bubbles and mouths, he can pull it out of mesh reads, pure double option, pure triple.

He's a threat, plus run game is a major, major threat and it makes you as a defensive staff or coordinators, you have to rethink your pressures or packages, so you're always sound against the option.

Q. How nice is it trying to prepare for a guy like that --
MATT WELLS: Yeah, he'd be a lot closer than Bowman doing it.

Q. The first few games of the season, you've had such a balanced attack with your receivers, multiple guys having four or more catches. How crucial is that type of balance for your offense moving forward?
MATT WELLS: The balance between?

Q. Like balance, each receiver getting four or more catches.
MATT WELLS: I think it's just kind of the way we're rotating. Some of those guys don't keep playing well. Then some of those other guy also keep getting more reps and it will not be balanced and then you'll ask me that and I'll say, I don't care, as long as we're completing the balls.

As long as we have guys that merit playing time and they are playing well at a high level, then we'll continue to rotate a lot of those guys. Obviously we'd like to, to keep them fresh, because of the pace that we play and how many reps we'd like to play on offense. It doesn't matter to me who catches it. I'm not worried about that. The guys that are catching it are the guys that are getting open and they are making plays Monday through Friday and earning that right to play on Saturday.

Q. Tony Bradford getting his first sack, coming back from -- he wasn't able to play the first game. What did you see from him?
MATT WELLS: Yeah, he really missed the first game. He had a family situation he needed to go home and take care of. Tony has played well in practice. I think we mentioned him late in August as one of the highlights, really, of the freshman class. That was coming out of training camp. Just missed the first week, good to see him. He's an active player. He's got a good thing motor. Reminds you of 53 a little bit, just how hard he plays the game. Plays passionate. Really hard worker. Cares about the game, North Shore High School. Really, really good program he came from. Knows how to practice.

Practices really, really well which makes him a little bit mature beyond his years being 18 years old, the kid knows how to practice because he's fortunate enough to come from a program that I've got a lot of respect for and I've seen them practice really, really hard and I've seen them practice for a number of years and I think that's given him a leg up as a freshman to come in here and compete earlier.

Q. What's been the most impressive aspect of the defensive play the last two weeks?
MATT WELLS: Third down. Getting off the field.

Q. You want them to be the aggressors towards the offense, where have you seen that aggression build throughout the first couple games?
MATT WELLS: Probably early in the down, early in the series, we've been getting TFLs getting the chains, and it changes your second down calls and you're trying to get half the call and all of a sudden you've got teams in third and medium. And now Coach Patterson has the whole playbook and that's probably not the spot you want third and medium to really more long. We've gotten teams in long.

We've done a great job getting off the field. Proud of our defense. I think they have given up two third down conversions -- four to each game. I may be wrong. I'm not off too far, but again, no matter who the opponent is, that's really good defense, and they have given our offense a chance to get in a rhythm and that's what we need because the style of offense that we play.

Q. You mentioned the danger of getting into a track meet, I think it was, with Arizona. When you have two high-powered offenses that like to move fast, is that something that happened over the course of the game?
MATT WELLS: Yeah, and I'm not scared to get in a track meet with them. Don't get me wrong. We were talking about trying to play defense earlier. That's what that was in relation to. Our defense doesn't want to get into a track meet with them, nobody does. We don't want to get into a track meet with anybody, and then we're certainly going to face similar teams in the Big 12.

There may be a day that we're struggling on defense and we will have to match serve for serve and we will have to out-score somebody and then the reality is, that game, we're going to have to win on special teams and there may be a game this week, maybe down the road where we don't play as well on offense, and we are going to need win 24-21 and going to have to win the game on defense and have something on special teams that wins the game for us in special teams and I think that's something as you build a team and a program that you're aware of, we talk about, and we're going to start preparing for.

Q. Their running game, some shifty running backs, that he ran for over 400 yards this past week. You've slowed down a couple of running teams. How do you think your team has done tackling-wise and how does the run game face compared to what you're about to face?
MATT WELLS: This will be the biggest test of the year so far. It's not even that close. I think we've tackled well in space. I think we have our biggest challenge of the year Saturday night, tackling space. I'm excited to coach our guys and watch them doing that because this will be the biggest test we've had so far. We'll have to play our best game of the year so far to win Saturday night.

Q. When you had two games that on the scoreboard with pretty large margins of victory, when you get into a closer game like you might have against Arizona. Are there moments that he can reflect back on in the first two games to help with that?
MATT WELLS: Yeah, until the game gets out of hand and there's really a check mate, I think the game is always in question. And we're playing in terms of offense and defense, with the full playbook or full game plan for that week and there's moments that you go through early in some of those games, whether you know, it's an unsuccessful offensive series or you have miscommunication and you give up a touchdown on defense, how you're going to -- how you're going to respond to that.

But certainly, Saturday night will be our biggest challenge. I'm not in the prediction business. I don't know what you just said to be true or not to be true, but we're planning for that in practice all the time. I look forward to watching our guys handle some adversity, and how that plays out after that, we'll all see together.

Q. Your defense has held opposing offense to I believe it's four of 30 on third down conversion attempts. What do you think has been the biggest reason as to why you've been so successful on third down? Is there like a specific position group that's excelled in those situations or is it just an overall group?
MATT WELLS: So I was right. Four? That's what we said a while ago. I think probably the best part of that, again, is getting teams behind the chains early in the count, early in the downs, the series, whatever it's called. But I hadn't been in very many third and shorts, chances go up getting off the field.

Q. You mentioned how in general it takes quarterbacks some time to get into your offense. Do you know how far away are we from Coach really letting Alan, just let him loose in the offense and let him throw more downfield?
MATT WELLS: Why don't you define for me, "let it loose."

Q. Just letting him throw more downfield passes compared to the screens, you mentioned last week how when a quarterback starts out, he generally doesn't have much of a leash to do that as much.
MATT WELLS: No, no, I said when a quarterback starts out in this offense, he doesn't have as long a leash in terms of checking plays and calling his own plays. Alan Bowman so far in two games, first year with Coach Yost is probably calling more now than two years ago when we installed this offense. I don't know how it would be compared to Coach Yost's quarterbacks in the years that he's had them, but I would say in terms of his play calling leeway, it's -- he gets to call a little bit of the game right now. He's checking certain plays.

Q. How much or what percentage would you say?
MATT WELLS: I will not put a percentage on that. Solid question. Fair question. I'm just refusing to answer that question.

Q. You said after the first game you weren't --
MATT WELLS: I don't know the answer, either. (Laughter) don't ask Yost, either. (Laughter).

Q. You said after the first game, you weren't particularly happy with some parts of his special teams. How were you feeling about them after the second game?
MATT WELLS: Oh, better. We still had things to clean up. I thought our kickoff coverage was a lot better. We're a little bit better on kickoff return. I liked our battery right now, our freshmen. They are performing well. I would anticipate teams continue to go try to heat us up on punt, so we are going to have to stand in there and protect punts. I know for a long time, and we're ready to do that, we're prepared to do that because we are on the flipside and we are going to make people block us, too.

You know, I think we were better in teams. But we've got a lot of guys that got to -- we're still trying to define some roles, too. We've got a lot of players playing teams I like; I like it's getting spread out. But there's still room to improve. I think just when you talk about the specialist in general, I think really all three of them have done well. We couldn't have had a better start for two true freshmen and Trey's come out and gotten in a good rhythm. He's kicked off well. Austin has hung the ball up really, really good. Mark Richardson did a nice job.

Q. What did he do to get that job, Mark Richardson?
MATT WELLS: He's the best holder in the program. Caught the ball, put it down, did his job and the kickers like him.

Q. When it comes from to freshmen --
MATT WELLS: There's not anybody in this program that can do that, in any program. That's a skill -- first of all, you've got to get in an awkward stance to do it, too.

Q. Did you ever do that since you were a quarterback?
MATT WELLS: I did -- I held high school and college.

You want to ask me something else now. (Laughter).

Q. Just staying on special teams for a moment.
MATT WELLS: No, I thought you were going to stay on those lines.

Q. Okay. So what else makes a good thing holder then besides the obvious good hands?
MATT WELLS: He's got to have a little savvy. He's got to have good hands. You've got to be able to turn the laces. He's got to be able to tilt the ball at the right angle. He's got to be able to throw the ball on a fake and all that stuff.

Q. How many guys did you look at to do that? How many guys did you look at in camp?
MATT WELLS: Well, I gave everybody the opportunity to do it but not very many of them wanted to, and so we didn't look at that many. That's the way it is every year.

Q. Staying on special teams for a moment, is your --
MATT WELLS: Coming back.

Q. On punting, is your operation time where you want it to be?
MATT WELLS: No. It's close but no. We've got to speed it up a little bit. That's why they are going to heat us up. Going to be ready for it.

Q. A lot of times freshmen on offense and defense, when you talk about their availability to come in and play immediately, you talk about adjusting to the speed of the game. Is the same thing on special teams, is there an adjustment that they have to make when they go to a high school or college level?
MATT WELLS: You talking about the kicker or other positions.

Q. Kicker and punter. Is it just adapting to the pressure of the college game or what is that adjustment that they make?
MATT WELLS: I think it's just the stadium; the ability to do it in front of more people.

Yeah, Saturdays, learning how to play. That, playing quarterback, similar. Kicking, that's a unique skill that those kids have done, snapping, kicking, holding, kicking off their whole life and there's not that much difference, especially if you've got a kicker that's kicked off the ground like in the State of Texas, but punting and snapping, you can do that anywhere in the country.

Q. I know you talked about Dalton after the game on Saturday, he's been really consistent and he's made routine plays consistently. What do you like about his approach just being a west Texas kid and being somebody who is a walk-on and kind of comes to work every day? What do you like most about his approach to the game?
MATT WELLS: He's just got a lunch-pail-type attitude. He's local kid, tough as nails. He's consistent. I think I said that Saturday night in here. You know what you're getting with Dalton every single day, every practice, every off-season work out. He's never on a list. He's never late for anything.

He does everything right. He does all the ordinary things extremely well and then all of a sudden, you know, he makes a guy miss and he's got legit, legit speed, and he can get out and run, and I just appreciate and respect his consistency.

Q. You mentioned the linebacker -- what else about their defense really stands out?
MATT WELLS: You know, they are active up front. They have active hands, their D-line moves quite a bit. They do some movement with them, but you know, the two guys that you see just pop all over tape are 1 and 7.

Q. On your kickers, as Trey Wolff done enough that he has won the job, or when -- considering Garibay has been down with whatever injury, could Garibay take that job over when he has had enough reps to be back to normal again?
MATT WELLS: Yeah, maybe so. We'll see. All those jobs continue to be earned I think weekly and practice, and I think certainly the longer Trey goes in games and the consistency that he shows in games is part of his resumé as well and I'm very aware of that. He's done a really nice job in field goals, as well as kicking off.

Q. What are your thoughts on your offensive line play, with you having to play Bruffy at left tackle the past two games.
MATT WELLS: Well, we moved Travis to left tackle in the spring.

So I think Travis has done a nice job. He has graded out well. Played with a lot better pad level in the second game than he did the first game. The ability for him to play either spot, I think has helped our O-line. We've talked about this a lot. You know, we like to dual train those guys up front. Inside guys, center spot, guards to go either side. Every now and then we'll have some guys that are right side guys only but Bruffy has the ability to play both left and right. He's got game experience at both.

Q. What did you like from Ta'Zhawn, especially the first possession a lot of touches?
MATT WELLS: The best thing I liked about Ta' in the first possession is he played a lot of plays and that was something that Coach Yost challenged our offense is just play one more play than the week before. Stay in longer and he challenged those skill kids not to kind of challenge the coaches, really not to sub them out and so I was proud of Ta', but also the rest of those offensive skill guys that first possession really pushed the limit.

Q. What did you see from Vasher that really led to the day that he had, just from throughout the week and during the game?
MATT WELLS: He's been pretty consistent the last few weeks. It's just a matter of getting him the ball and getting him in space and being accurate with the ball. TJ's got such a huge catch radius, he's very, very quarterback friendly.

Q. How prepared are you to play in somebody else's stadium?
MATT WELLS: By Friday, we'll be as well prepared as we can be. I think so much of it is your mental preparation and your investment throughout the week. We've got to choose victory. I mean, we've got to choose Victor every day and what we need, how we sleep, what we put in our body, how we talk, everything, the investment, the practice, today, having the best Monday practice of the year.

It's the best opponent we've played all year. It will be the hardest environment because it's our first game on the road, certainly know that. I've been in that stadium and that crowd's loud. Been in there at a Bowl game, as an opposing coach on the other sidelines, yeah, it will be the biggest challenge we've had all year.

Q. The only real traditions you're bringing to this team in terms of how you dress for the plane or whatever, before the game?
MATT WELLS: We'll wear the same travel gear. The biggest thing I think with the road game a couple things different, but I think the biggest thing for our players and young kids in general is try to keep it as the same and as routine as you can, even though you're in a different environment and there's -- it's a different stadium and the colors are different and it's not your own locker room and you understand that, but you try to do things to get them comfortable with it as soon as you can, and you have to understand, you're winning the game Monday through Friday.

You have to earn the right to win and you have to do that during the week. It will be a great environment. It's a really good opponent and staff that we respect and a very good -- it will be a very, very good college football game.

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