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November 18, 2019

Matt Wells

Lubbock, Texas

MATT WELLS: Kansas State week, senior game, last day for 16 seniors in our program, and that's something that's very important to me. I remember my senior game, senior day, and it's something that is very, very special, something that everybody in this program that works here and coaches here and plays as an underclassman will do everything they can to send these seniors out as winners at Jones Stadium for the last time.

So appreciative of those 16 seniors and everything that they've done for this program over the course of their careers, some longer than others. A couple head coaches, but those guys, they've stuck it out, and they've been winners off the field as well as on the field, and they're going to be very successful in life, and do everything we can to send them out as winners this week. It'll be a big game.

Kansas State is a very, very well-coached football team, they're very disciplined. They do not hand you anything like teams that win consistently. They do not gift wrap anything to you. They're very well disciplined, they're tough. That's been the mindset of that program for quite some time. It's been the mindset of that head coach for quite some time and they've been very successful, and we'll have a big challenge on our hands this week and one that we all look forward to.

It'll be great to have a night game here in front of our fans, and I know their fans I've already heard are excited for that. I know our players are, to have a night game here in Jones Stadium for the last one of the season.

Hopefully a lot of people will come out and cheer these guys on, especially these 16 seniors. I believe they deserve that, and send them out as winners and do everything we can to send them out as winners on Saturday.

From the injury standpoint, Jordyn Brooks is day-to-day, and that'll be the last thing we kind of need to say about that. It'll end up being a game-time decision this week on JB, as well as all the rest of them. I just got told by our trainer everybody else is in the same boat, day-to-day. Kind of sounds like me and my voice right now is day-to-day. Got better from yesterday. With that, I'll go ahead and open it up for any questions.

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.

Q. Jordyn is a competitive guy, and it's senior day. He'd obviously want to play, but you know you have an NFL future for him that you have to think about, as well. As a coach, is it hard when a guy, he has an emotional last chance to play at the Jones but also a future to think about?
MATT WELLS: Is it hard for me?

Q. Yeah, to make a decision --
MATT WELLS: I'm making that decision with him, in consultation with our trainers and our doctors. If they've cleared him and he can try and he can go, then he's going. I don't think senior day has anything to do with it. If you saw him last week, I think right there you just saw into the heart of Jordyn Brooks. That was not senior day, and you saw a guy that tried to go out and play and he just really wasn't effective, and so hopefully we'll see how he is this week.

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.

Q. Another week where you're facing a dual-threat quarterback. What makes Skylar Thompson the same or different as guys you've seen before this year?
MATT WELLS: You know, a lot of guys we're facing in the Big 12 are dual threats. Some of them maybe throw it a little bit better than others, some of them maybe run it a little bit better than others, but we've certainly seen a ton of really talented dual threat kids. Skylar is no different. He's tough. He's accurate with the ball. He can beat you with his feet. I think he's sneaky quick out on the edge, and you -- we just got hurt by that, and so I'm sure he'll be excited to play against us. We need to play better against this kid.

Q. What happened to Dalton Rigdon compared to what it looked like happened? Is he day-to-day?
MATT WELLS: He is, yeah.

Q. Is he possible --
MATT WELLS: I think he's possible. I don't even know if it's questionable or doubtful as of today because he hasn't been in yet today.

Q. Does he have a concussion issue?
MATT WELLS: Yeah, it was a concussion, yeah, no question. Everything was negative in terms of the jaw. They CAT scanned him and X-rayed him, and everything was negative there.

Q. But if he's --
MATT WELLS: He's just in the concussion protocol. He's day-to-day. But there wasn't anything else past that.

Q. What have you seen as far as your team in the red zone this week coming in you guys have the best red zone defense in the Big 12 while Kansas State has the best red zone offense, and I believe TCU forced three or four field goals when they got into the red zone. Is there something you guys are doing schematically? How do you see that as a strength of your team and how does that happen so much for you guys?
MATT WELLS: Well, it's one of our goals on defense, and it's in the blueprint on how to play red zone defense and how important it is. Our guys have kind of taken I think some pride in that, a little bit of back against the wall. We've played well. We've forced field goals, gotten a turnover a week ago or a couple weeks ago in the red zone. But we've played well.

Now, on the other side, offensively, we have not played well in the red zone. We've got to run the ball better in the red zone on offense, and we've got to stay in more manageable D-and-D distances where David now has more run-pass options in terms of that. That was one of the things that actually hurt us, two red zone trips Saturday, came away with two field goals. Could have been the difference in the ballgame.

We look at it a lot of different ways, but from an offensive standpoint that was part of the -- I don't know, part of the postgame evaluation. That was one of the things we did not do well that really cost us the game on offense.

Q. As a defense, do you view that as -- when they have a match-up like this, is that even more exciting, it's kind of an extra challenge when you have a team like K-State that's so good in the red zone? They haven't been stopped in the red zone even once during conference play. Does the defense get even more excited for that kind of match-up?
MATT WELLS: Yeah, I think so. I think it'll be a big part of the game if the ball gets in the red zone, to see their offense against our defense in that area of the field.

Q. Speaking of red zone offense, before your first field goal you had the 3rd and 9 play where Jett kept it. What's kind of the rationale on that?
MATT WELLS: I was going to go for it on 4th down.

Q. So just trying to get as much as you could?

Q. And you did not gain as many yards --
MATT WELLS: They didn't gain any. I think they gained one yard or none. Yeah, I ain't going for it on 4th and 9. Kick a field goal. Smart play there. That's the smart play right there, but I was ready to go for it if it would have got into the D-and-D in my mind that we needed to get to at that point.

Q. Some would ask, though, why not throw when you had 3rd and 9.
MATT WELLS: Because I was going to go for it on 4th and medium. Yeah, you could have thrown a quick gain. Who asked that, somebody on Twitter?

Q. Probably.
MATT WELLS: That's fair. There's 150 or 60 some calls in every game, special teams, O and D. That's fine. I was going to go for it, and our players were pretty fired up we were going to go for it, too. So whether it was a Q run, which was that specific call, quick gain, a naked, a bootleg, we weren't going to go drop back and go for it because I was ready to go -- it was a chip shot field goal in field goal range. If we got to a manageable down we were going to go for it in that situation. I won't do that every single time, but in that situation we made up our mind that we were going to do that.

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.

Q. Obviously you were at Utah State during the game, but under Bill Snyder it seemed like the hallmark of their offense we we're just going to run it at you, put a hat on a hat. Is that the same thing you notice out of a Chris Klieman offense or has it changed a little bit?
MATT WELLS: Without knowing K-State like you mentioned in all the years past, that's probably a hard comparison if I was going to try to be real detailed for you. But I think certainly this offense is -- they're using Skylar's abilities, which he can throw it, and they can move him around. He's very athletic. So you've got to -- and then you've got to -- they're going to play some big-boy ball and they're very physical. They're going to run the ball, and they're going to play action shot you, and then they're going to put the ball in the hands of that quarterback, and I would, too.

I don't know how that compares to the way they did it before except Collin Klein carrying it 25 times a game, right? And he's still on staff. He's a good guy.

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.

Q. All three of those guys you expect to be available?

Q. On the defensive side of the ball you guys have been leading the Big 12 for the entire season as far as forcing turnovers. This last one you were minus 2.
MATT WELLS: First time in a long time.

Q. Yeah. Was it just coverage issues? Was it bad position, or what kind of put you guys in that position?
MATT WELLS: To not get turnovers?

Q. Exactly.
MATT WELLS: It's a hard analysis exactly because you watch the tape and we're going after the ball. We're going after -- we call them ball searches, trying to force turnovers. You know, it just didn't happen. I remember the first couple games we didn't have a any I think was it two weeks in a row we didn't have any, and I told you we're going to keep coaching it, keep stressing it and they're coming in bunches, and then here they all came, and now we lead the Big 12. We just didn't get any.

From an interception standpoint, really just nothing ever presented itself. I don't know. You can't -- you try not to overanalyze it.

Q. When you have a bunch of young guys playing, especially in the secondary, how do you go about trying to make it simpler for them but not too simple for the quarterback to read it real easily? How do you balance making it complex enough for a quarterback to read but simple enough for guys to understand?
MATT WELLS: Each week that's a decision you make as coaches, how much is enough and how much is too much and can our guys get it, what can they execute, what can they understand, what can they adjust to. You put something in and all of a sudden now you're adjusting to empty, to motion empty, empty back to one back, two backs to one back. There's a lot of different bunch, whatever, close sets, all those kind of things. There's a lot of adjustments. So when you are playing younger guys, I think that's a weekly question we ask ourselves, and then you obviously need to be dynamic enough and have enough variety that you have enough in your package to be able to play good defense.

So there's a balance between that.

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?

Q. Yes.
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.

Q. I know after the game you were asked a lot about the 3rd down conversions from TCU and whatnot. Going into this game, since TCU and Kansas State are both two of the top teams in the conference as far as 3rd down defense and time of possession, what type of direct things can you pull from this game to help you against Kansas State when it comes to those situations?
MATT WELLS: Well, I think the things that you pull from the game to help us next week are the things that you do well and that you're encouraged by and that strengthens it, and then the things that we did not do well we have to learn and correct them during the week and then not allow them to come back in, whether it's an alignment, a technique, a fundamental.

Q. What positive things on TCU on 3rd down did you see that you can pull in and make even better against Kansas State?
MATT WELLS: I saw Adrian Frye make two plays in man coverage. Got pressure on the quarterback. And we don't wrap up on a tackle. That was just a fundamental in getting him down.

There's plenty of positives to pull out. There's a lot of things that we've got to correct, and we know that.

Q. What have you seen from Maverick since he's been back in practice? How has he been looking?
MATT WELLS: Fine, yeah. Practicing good.

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.

Q. To follow up on that, since he was that effective playing in the box, would that possibly make you rethink his future, just from a DB to a linebacker?
MATT WELLS: Yeah, we could think about that in the off-season.

Q. Any update on Vasher?
MATT WELLS: Nope. Be a game-time decision.

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