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Nate Night Thoughts: Rebuild or Reload?

Matt Wells is saying this is a reload, but can the Red Raiders succeed in his first year?

Utah State v Michigan State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

After an abysmal 5 game collapse by the Red Raiders, there is a new man running the team. Matt Wells has come into Lubbock with the mindset of reloading instead of rebuilding.

While a rebuild is typical when a new coach is brought in, I believe Texas Tech is certainly in position to reload and win next year. Offensively, Tech will have a similar style next year and the team is returning almost everyone – barring any transfers or early NFL exits – except for notable players such as Tre King, Paul Stawarz, and Ja’Deion High. With Alan Bowman back, this offense can only get better. Matt Wells has inherited a top-notch offense and I expect that this side of the ball will only get better.

Defensively we have seen the 806D improve, but it’s still far from great. Under Wells, Utah State was ranked 57th in total defense. This was ahead of teams like Texas, Ohio State, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and of course Texas Tech. Meanwhile the Red Raiders finished 111th in total defense and finished dead last in the Big 12 in that category.

There is a lot of room to improve for the defense and new defensive coordinator Keith Patterson will implement a new scheme for the Red Raiders defense. We’ll likely see the Red Raiders running the 3-3-5 this upcoming season. Iowa State runs a similar defense and it has proven to give Big 12 teams fits. If ran correctly, Tech can have a top-notch defense in the Big 12 against the pass happy league.

On special teams Texas Tech will have a new look. Both Dominic Panazzolo and Clayton Hatfield are moving on after running out of eligibility. Panazzolo was a weapon on special teams this year. He constantly flipped the field for the Red Raiders and put the opposition deep in their own territory. Meanwhile, Hatfield was a reliable leg for the Red Raiders going 17/19 on field goals and 55/55 on PATs. These two will be difficult to replace for Matt Wells and his staff.

Overall, it seems likely that Tech can finish with a winning record next season. Most of the success will likely rely on the defense, but Matt Wells has inherited a veteran group of players to guide in his first season in Lubbock.