Texas Tech football: Matt Wells says QB Alan Bowman “day-to-day”

TUCSON, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 14: Quarterback Alan Bowman #10 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders warms up before the start of the NCAAF game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on September 14, 2019 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
TUCSON, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 14: Quarterback Alan Bowman #10 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders warms up before the start of the NCAAF game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on September 14, 2019 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Texas Tech football team may be getting a bit healthier in key spots according to head coach Matt Wells, who met with the media on Monday to preview the West Virginia game.

Ahead of his team’s four-game stretch to end the season, Texas Tech football head coach Matt Wells met with the media on Monday and the health of his team was of greatest interest to fans and the media.  Though he did share that senior RB Armand Shyne is out for the season, the news Wells delivered was reason for fans to have some optimism.

"“I do think bye week was good for us to get healthy and rest up as well as get some key practice time in, especially with some young guys,” Wells said. “But we got a lot of guys that are in day-today so they are getting healthier, they are getting closer, but none of them are all the way back yet and so we’re just going to leave it at that.”"

The most important position group that needs to get healthy is the defensive line where three regulars were sidelined in the loss to Kansas.  While Wells did say following that game that senior DE Lonzell Gilmore would not return this season, it seems like one young defensive linemen, Nelson Mbanasor, may be able to play against West Virginia.

"“[DE] Nelson Mbanasor, [spur Evan]Rambo, [DB] Des Smith, all still day-today but getting healthier,” he said.  “We won’t know on any of them until, probably it will be a game-time decision.”"

Mbanasor and true freshman Tony Bradford Jr. were severely missed along the defensive line against Kansas.  With the second unit depleted, the starters were asked to carry a heavier load and were unable to generate any pass rush, registering only one sack in the 37-34 loss.

"“That’s technique, playing on edges, it’s relentless effort, it’s the twos, the second guys coming in, the guys that are backups coming in and playing with the same intensity and fire and passion,” Wells said when talking about how to generate a greater pass rush.More from Wreck'Em RedTexas Tech football: Red Raider fans need to know about these MountaineersTexas Tech football: Red Raiders land first commit for class of 2025Texas Tech football: Why have the Red Raiders struggled on the road under McGuire?Texas Tech football: Why the Red Raiders can compete for a Big 12 titleTexas Tech football: Plenty of questions remain as conference play arrives"

Another position that has been rocked by injury has been, of course, the QB spot.  With starting QB Alan Bowman missing the last five games with a left shoulder injury and potential backup Maverick McIvor missing the entire season thus far due to a broken foot, Jett Duffey has been the team’s only available scholarship QB since the OU game.  According to Wells, that could be close to changing.

"“Alan Bowman, Maverick McIvor, both of them will be X-rayed very soon but they’re still day-to-day,” he said. “Obviously you saw Alan throwing, warming Jett up before the Kansas, every series at Kansas, so he did. They both are getting closer. So that is what it is. But they are very much day-to-day.”"

Though Duffey has been serviceable and this team has much larger problems than the QB play (secondary, receivers, pass rush), many fans are hoping that Bowman’s return might provide enough of a spark to this offense that Tech can finally start to outscore opponents the way we’ve grown accustomed to seeing the Red Raiders do in the last two decades.  Thus far, Tech is 8th in the Big 12 in scoring offense at 30.8 points per game and is putting up fewer than 30 points per game in Big 12 play.

While it seems a stretch, Wells’ didn’t rule out Bowman for this week as he told reporters on more than one occasion that “I wouldn’t assume anything”.  One reason many want to know how close the two injured QBs are to returning is the belief that the offense is not utilizing the legs of Duffey as much to limit his chance of injury (a theory which is accurate).  Thus, some believe that a healthy Bowman or McIvor would allow the Red Raiders to unleash the QB ground game.

"“I think when Jett runs the ball I think he can be a threat to a defense,” he said.  “Any time a defensive coordinator has to account for plus one in the run game, every pressure that you run, every twist game that you call on third down you’re like, oh, man, if wedon’t have a contain rush on this 7 gets out, we’re in trouble. I think the threat of that is good, I think also the reality that Jett can get out with his feet and make plays is part of his game I think he’s very strong at that.”When asked if more QB depth will lead to more carries for Duffey, Wells said,  “No, well I think you, I mean, you’re not all of a sudden going to just QB run game because that’s not really what we do.”"

Regardless if it changes how Duffey is utilized, the return of Bowman could be the type of spark that might push this team to the type of November that we’ve not seen in a decade.   The season’s final month begins with West Virginia this weekend, and as you might expect, Wells has tons of respect for the Mountaineers.

Leading the WVU offense is junior Austin Kendall, an Oklahoma transfer starting for the first time in his career.  He’s been uneven at times and has thrown eight interceptions thus far.  Wells chalked that up to his learning curve as a first-time starter.

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"“I just think a first-year starter he’s at his moments just like most first-year guys do,” he said. “He’s a talented kid, he can make a lot of throws, he throws it on time. When he gets protection and the guys protect in front of him, he can throw it, 1 and 13 are really good wide outs that have had good years and so they certainly have some offensive explosive guys out on the perimeter that he can get the ball to.”"