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Saddle Up review: Episodes 1 & 2

Time to take a look at Texas Tech football’s new reality show

TCU v Texas Tech Photo by John Weast/Getty Images

The Texas Tech media department have come up with a “Hard Knocks” style reality show surrounding the Texas Tech football team during this year’s spring practice.

Episode One

Developmental Program

This episode started with Seth Collins and Eli Howard speaking on the new coaching staff taking an interest into the current players. Collins made a note of how most of the freshmen will likely not play and that the staff knows that and makes sure to coach up the current players. Howard spoke on the transfer portal and how the staff has done a tremendous job keeping most of the players.

Wells went on to speak on how Texas Tech will be a developmental program. The staff will love them hard and coach them hard, both on and off the field. This staff will make sure to make men out of this Texas Tech program in all facets of their lives.

This first section really gives you an insight into how Wells and the staff plan to have this program. We have not seen many players transfer and you see why. At Utah State, Wells was known to have some of the most well-coached athletes and it seems like he’s bringing it to Tech.


In the Kingsbury tenure, Tech was consistently the most penalized team in the Big 12. Wells is making discipline a primary point this offseason. “It’s incredibly discipline based,” “If you live your life with discipline, then you won’t jump offsides on 3rd and 2,” Howard and Alan Bowman speak on the identity of this team going forward. Wells was even show to coach up a receiver on keeping the ball in tight even when scoring a touchdown.

“It’s all the little things, coach Wells continually speaks on. This team will need to be creatures of habit to get in this coaching staff’s good graces. Accountability and player led leadership will be huge going forward, and not wanting to let your teammates down has always been a driving force for young athletes.

Coach Juice & Coach Smith

New Defensive Backs Coach Julius Brown is one of the profiles near the end of the episode. Going by Coach Juice, he is already getting familiarized with the team and gaining reporte. “It’s high risk, high reward, but at the end of the day you have to be confident,” coach Juice spoke on not wanting his players to be scared of big moments, but instead live for them.

New Running Backs Coach Deandre Smith finished the episode speaking on the erratic way he and other Utah State assistants were hired by Wells, which was virtually a rushed two-day process. Smith then went on to speak on how the staff plans on coaching the team. This staff will paint the picture of success and once the success comes, the players will buy in even more.

“We’re gone coach you to be a champion,” Wells finishes the episode by speaking on the new Red Raider expectations. This staff expects to be Big 12 champions and even has the team breaking huddles with “Big 12 Champs.” The players are beginning to buy in which can only mean good things.

Episode Two

At the end of the first episode, Wells congratulated Adrien Cross of getting an interception at the end of practice but reminded him to put the ball on his outside arm next time. At the beginning of this episode, while speaking to reporters, Wells spoke on Cross getting another interception but this time putting the ball on his outside arm, thus showing his and other players being more coachable.

High Intensity

“More tense, it’s a lot quicker, we’re getting through it all, but the intensity has definitely been turned all the way up.” Alan Bowman is feeling the new tempo that Wells and his staff has implemented. In Wells’ press conference, he spoke on wanting to play as fast as humanly possible and according to both Bowman and Terrence Steele, he is sticking true to that.

The team cranked up the intensity in a Thursday practice with Oklahoma drills, Down The Line drills, and other high intensity, high contact drills. New Offensive Coordinator David Yost, Tight End Coach Luke Wells, and Wide Receiver Coach Joel Filani spoke on how fast these players are playing and learning. Filani spoke more so on how his unit is fairly young and easily molded.

Playing with a Tight End

Luke Wells, Yost and Bowman all spoke on the new wrinkle that Red Raider football would put in this year. The tight end position will be a big change for this offense and creat big mismatches in both the blocking and pass catching game. Bowman detailed all of the guys battling it out at TE: Simon Gonzalez, Tyler Carr, Connor Killian, Mason McHorse, Travis Koontz and Donta Thompson.

A mix of guys that are new in Gonzalez and Koontz, guys that have been TEs but haven’t played in Carr and McHorse, and guys that have had to change positions in Killian and Thompson shows that everything is open when it comes to this position.

I would guess that Donta Thompson has the inside track to the starting spot. He was the only TE profiled and was spoke on by both Bowman and Matt Wells more than the rest of the guys. Thompson having to learn how this new position works as opposed to the wide receiver position will be tough but one that both he and the staff believes he can do.


The theme of this episode seemed to be simply one word: Family. In this episode, Coach Wells introduces his own family to the entire team while making it known how important family is to him. Wells mentioned that coaches will be bringing their family to practice throughout the spring and that if any of the players wanted to bring their families to a practice they are welcome to.

Many times you hear coaches speak on their team being a family but it’s interesting to see Wells put some substance to the statement. Each of the coaches spoke on how special it is for the players to see the coaches being leaders of their families. This staff is looking to build men and future leaders in more ways than one.

This is something truly special. Providing an example to young 18-24 year olds on how they are men in the real world is something that holds value in so many ways. Basketball coach Beard has spoke on this many times and is one of the reasons he has recruited so well and retained so many of his players, they love Beard and it seems as though Wells wants the same type of relationship with the football team.

“People around here say we can’t play defense, they won’t be able to say that anymore” is how Tommy Mcvay ended the episode. That is still yet to be seen, but it seems to be on the right track.