Coach Speak: Texas Tech football head coach Matt Wells talks QBs

LUBBOCK, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 07: Running back Ta'Zhawn Henry #26 and head coach Matt Wells of Texas Tech stand in the tunnel before the college football game between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the UTEP Miners at Jones AT&T Stadium on September 07, 2019 in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
LUBBOCK, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 07: Running back Ta'Zhawn Henry #26 and head coach Matt Wells of Texas Tech stand in the tunnel before the college football game between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the UTEP Miners at Jones AT&T Stadium on September 07, 2019 in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images) /

Monday, Texas Tech football head coach Matt Wells discussed his two backup QBs as he prepares his team to take on Oklahoma without Alan Bowman.

It took Matt Wells only three games into his Texas Tech football tenure until he had to deal with a quarterback quandary.  With starter Alan Bowman set to miss several weeks thanks to a left shoulder injury, Wells and his assistants have to figure out how to compete with either Jett Duffey or Jackson Tyner leading the way.

Earlier this week, we took an in-depth look at what each brings to the table and Monday, Wells address his QB situation in his weekly press conference.

"“Obviously, with the QB situation for us, you’re gonna see both guys,” Wells said.  “Not sure how that’s gonna play out, we’ll see how the week goes in practice and we’ll have a plan defined exactly for those guys by the end of the week…”"

Hopefully, a plan is already in place and a starter has been named.  Given that the team had last week off, it’s likely that Wells is snowballing a bit here.  One would assume that last week was somewhat of an open competition for the job and this week will be spent installing a game plan the maximize the starter’s strengths.

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During a typical game week, the starter usually gets 75% of the practice reps.  But that is not likely going to be the case this week if the plan is to play both Tyner and Duffey.

Therefore, it is fair to wonder if either player will be as prepared heading into Norman as we would expect a typical starter to be.  Again, this is where last week’s bye should be a huge benefit.

Wells also seems confident in his team’s ability to rally around their backup QBs.  And he believes that continuity should not be a problem after talking about getting his team ready to play with a new QB during the week off.

"“It’s not like they haven’t played with those guys because of spring ball and training camp,” he said."

While his statement holds merit, what is concerning is whether or not a receiving corps that (outside of T.J. Vasher) has not looked all that in tune with Bowman so far can be expected to look any more synced up with Tyner or Duffey.  What’s more, it will be interesting to see if the different styles of each QB will make the offense look varied enough to give opposing defenses trouble adjusting in games.

"“I think Jett has some experience…in the Big 12,” Wells said.  “He’s played well at times.  He is elusive.  He’s got some athletic ability when he does pull it down and run.  Jackson has done a really nice job of coming in and learning our offense really quickly…From what he lacks in terms of game experience, he makes up for in terms of his knowledge and how quick he picked up our offense.”"

Wells brings up an interesting aspect of this QB battle.  Tyner was not with the program until this summer meaning that Duffey should have an advantage in terms of his grasp of the offense given that he went through spring practice.

However, there has been reason to believe that Duffey’s not proven to be the most adept at mastering the playbook to the level needed in order to be a starter.  If Wells feels like Tyner has a better grasp of the offense, that would seem to be an indication that Duffey is either not putting in the time in the film room or is simply not capable of grasping football concepts well enough to lead an offense full-time.

Certainly, with Bowman out, there could be a leadership void at the most important position on the field.  That’s where Wells believes other players must step up.

"“The guys that are gonna have to do that are the o-linemen,” he said.  “They’re the ones that have played the most.  I certainly think Donta Thompson’s there and T.J. [Vasher] are there for us on offense.  Quite frankly, the guys on defense gotta play a little bit better, the guys that are around the quarterback position, the other 10, all gotta play a little bit better.”"

Of course, fans are well aware that last year, the offensive line (which featured four of the same starters as this year’s line) failed to step up in Bowman’s absence.   That’s why it is fair to wonder if they will be able to do this year what they could not do last year and help the Red Raiders make up for Bowman’s absence by dominating in the rushing game.

Another group that must step up to help the QBs is the receivers.  But so far that’s an area where Tech fans have been somewhat concerned given the lack of productivity outside of Vasher. However, Wells seemed far from concerned.

"“No concern,” Wells said when asked about the production of his “X” receivers which line up opposite of Vasher in the formation.  “As far as the ball distribution, you want it to be decently balanced across…Certainly, if you get in a game and a guy’s got the hot hand or they’re giving you something, you’ve gotta take it.“But certainly, it can’t be an imbalance of T.J.’s catching all these balls and the X position is not.  It doesn’t have to be a certain guy.  It can be R.J. [Turner] and [Erik Ezukanma] together combined as well as all the Hs combined with some at the tight end spot as well….I think all of us on offense are cognizant of that.”"

Wells went on to say what most Tech fans have already noticed, that until other receivers make plays on a consistent basis, teams are going to roll their coverages toward Vasher and try to neutralize him with double-teams.  But it sounds as if Wells believes his X receivers are progressing and could be ready to take a step forward.

"“I don’t think they’re taking time to get going,” he said.  “They just haven’t had anything big.  I think they’ve gotten balls and Alan has taken the throws when they’re there but for whatever reason the numbers aren’t big yet.”"

It’s hard to envision the numbers increasing dramatically with backup QBs in place for the next few weeks.  But what we can hope to see is the impact of the X receivers increase, especially on third down or in the red zone.

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Wells seems to have an air of confidence about his team despite the fact that they are headed into the most hostile road environment in the Big 12.  He even went so far as to scoff at a reporter’s reference to this weekend’s challenge as adversity.  Wells said that playing college football and playing against Oklahoma should be fun.  Hopefully, he still feels that way Saturday afternoon at around 4 pm.