Texas Tech has now beat West Virginia more times in Morgantown (three) than they have in Lubbock (two). The overall record is 5-6 in West Virginia’s favor thanks to a thrilling 6-7 loss back in January 1, 1938 in El Paso, Texas. I wasn’t there. I have no idea if it was actually thrilling or not.
It is also worth noting that Matt Wells is undefeated against other perceived coaching candidates at the time he was hired. 3-0 versus Neal Brown and 1-0 versus Dana Holgerson.
Considering the blowout loss to Texas the prior game and considering all the key injuries the Red Raiders were dealing with, one could argue this game against the Mountaineers was the best Matt Wells has coached since he arrived in Lubbock.
Wells and Co. had to rally the troops as they say. As the old football cliché goes, they couldn’t let Texas beat them twice. Make no mistake about it. The coaching that won this game against West Virginia started long before this past week.
Tech was without about eight starters this past weekend. Give or take. The Red Raiders were preparing to go to “battle” with their backup quarterback. They were also missing leading receiver Erik Ezukanma, leading rusher Tahj Brooks, center Dawson Deaton, and defensive back Marquise “Muddy” Waters among others. Let’s just say they were short-handed.
As I alluded before, Wells coaching for this game started prior to the season. The coaching staff was able to prepare multiple players to be ready to play. I realize every coach strives for this but I don’t think I ever seen a team missing so many key players be able to pull it off. Also note that with all of those starters out, Tech was only flagged for two penalties. Two. Let that sink in. Two.
One could argue that the key to this win started during the recruiting process.
As stated in one of my previous articles, I explained how Wells has greatly improved the roster over the one he inherited. The future looks pretty good with the likes of Jerand Bradley, Behren Morton, Cam’Ron Valdez, Mason Tharp and several others. Those calling for a head coaching change seem to point to recruiting rankings, or lack thereof, to prove that Wells can’t recruit. The issue with that claim is that transfers are not factored into recruiting rankings. Most of his latest transfers actually have more than one year of eligibility left so they are not the usual graduate transfers that Tech fans have come accustomed to from the basketball team.
Are Tech fans willing to give up Colin Schooler, “Muddy” Waters, Eric Monroe, Krishon Merriweather, Tyler Shough, and a myriad of others for unproven high school players so the outdated recruiting rankings look better? I mean, check out the threads Schooler sported recently. That’s five star material if you ask me.
Colin Schooler's fits do not miss. pic.twitter.com/S7ibuGzDpQ— Eric Kelly (@EricKellyTV) October 3, 2021
But I digress. Regardless of how the roster has been constructed, there is legit depth on this year’s version of the football team. As evidenced by the game in Austin, there may not be a team of top line caliber depth. However, the game in Morgantown showed that there isn’t much drop off between the starters and those next in line (in some cases three or four spots deep). These players were recruited whether they came directly from high school or from the transfer portal.
In-game decisions has also been an issue with some Red Raider football fans. However, it was Neal Brown that used inopportune timeouts and struggled deciding when to use his two quarterback system. West Virginia was completely ineffective running the football and didn’t focus on the passing game, with Tech down several defensive backs mind you, until the second half.
Wells had his team prepared. It was evident by they way they started the game (errant wide receiver pass that led to an interception notwithstanding). It was evident by how clean the team was able to get off the field and get the field goal team on without a timeout and time running down. The field goal right before the half was a key point in this game. It was evident in Tech’s final drive that resulted in the winning field goal. Wells and Sonny Cumbie used Donovan Smith to near perfection; although, one could argue that he probably should have been used a tad bit more.
Tech did allow West Virginia to score 17 unanswered points in the third quarter as Tech failed to even earn a first down. If you are anything like me, some choice words may have been uttered under your breath or outright said out loud. However, Tech was able to respond as needed to regain the lead and to prevent Mountaineer touchdowns. Tech was poised and collected on that final drive.
Kirk Herbstreit even listed Wells as a top performing coach this past week.
My top performing COACHES WEEK 5:— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) October 4, 2021
Parker @HawkeyeFootball DC
Lanning @GeorgiaFootball DC
Golding @AlabamaFTBL DC
Hill @ASUFootball OC
Wells @TexasTechFB pic.twitter.com/R4V1k9KClA
This latest victory could very well be a turning point in the trajectory of the head coaching story of Matt Wells. His hiring was unpopular. His first two years were less than stellar as fans are impatient and the COVID year seems like a distant memory. However, IF the Red Raiders can score at least one more point than the TCU Horned Frogs this coming Saturday, Wells is most likely looking at a 6-1 start with the Kansas Jayhawks looming next.
The #FireWells crowd would then look a little foolish should they decide to be vocal again if Tech loses to Kansas State and/ or Oklahoma if Tech is already bowl eligible when they play them. That may still be wishful thinking. I’ve learned to never count the #FireWells crowd out.
Trust the process Red Raider fans. Stay the course.