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Wells hopes quarterback switch provides needed spark to Texas Tech offense

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Texas Tech is 2-10 in Big 12 games since Matt Wells became the Red Raiders’ head coach last season. One of those two victories came against West Virginia in a 38-17 triumph in Morgantown last November.

In that game, Leddie Brown was West Virginia’s leading rusher but was held to sixteen yards on six carries. Wells says Brown’s noticeable improvements as a junior have a lot to do with what surrounds him.

“He is really patient,” Wells said. “They do a lot of zone schemes with him. He is a powerful back. He is kind of patient, patient, patient, and then when he hits it, he goes. The O-Line has gotten better as the year has gone on for them. But he has played well and he had a great game against Kansas on Saturday. He is one of the better backs in the league.”

Neal Brown described Darius Stills’ diving interception off a tipped pass in the Kansas game as an ‘effort play’. Wells used the same phrase to describe the 285-pound lineman’s work.

“What a pick he made Saturday. That is called ‘breaking the stack’ when those O-Linemen and D-Linemen break when the ball is thrown. That was a tremendous effort play.”

West Virginia’s enters today’s matchup with the nation’s top-ranked defense, allowing 240.3 yards per game.

“There’s a lot of carryover. They play with tremendous effort. It seems to me that maybe they have simplified it some. They’ve got some experienced players and then you add in a guy like Tony Fields, who is a high-end talent as a graduate transfer from Arizona. That is a great addition to that defense.”

Jarret Doege made his debut as a Mountaineer against Texas Tech last year. In a relief role and against many of Texas Tech’s backup players, Doege completed 11-of-17 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown pass with five seconds remaining.

“He has a lot of game time under his belt. He is steady. He is stingy with the ball. His touchdown-to-interception ratio is good. He is accurate and can throw it on the move. When he scrambles out, he has the ability to hurt you.”

West Virginia will be facing a new Tech starting quarterback for the third consecutive season. Last year’s starting signal caller Jett Duffey transferred in the offseason. 2018 starter Alan Bowman has been replaced in the lineup by first-time starter Henry Colombi. Colombi played for Wells at Utah State before transferring to Lubbock.

Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Henry Colombi (3) drops back to pass against the Iowa State Cyclones (Brian Powers-USA TODAY Sports)

“When you have played at times not as explosive as we need to play on offense, we had just played good or okay at quarterback. I felt the change to Henry gives us a better opportunity to maybe right now at this time play better on offense. That’s how we evaluated it. Alan, it is not his fault. He is not the one to blame.

“I don’t want that to be the narrative. That’s not. It is a matter that Henry, we he has gotten in, has played well and he has moved us. We need to continue to stay aggressive at the quarterback position.”

Six weeks removed from their only victory of the season, a 35-33 win over Houston Baptist, Wells guarded against wholesale changes during the bye week in schemes or personnel.

“Sometimes there’s good things to a pattern. I am also a believer in that, what you do and you do it well even if people know that you are doing it. You need to stay doing that and maybe find a little different way to do it. I don’t think having a bye week, having all this time I think sometimes can be a detriment coming up with a lot of new stuff. So you have to guard against that as coaches.”

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