FRISCO, Texas — Texas Tech was one of the four Big 12 programs that had to find a new football coach, and like the other four the Red Raiders went out and made some noise with their hire.
TTU plucked Matt Wells from Utah State to take over after the school fired Kliff Kingsbury. Wells, a former player at USU, had a very successful run at his alma mater by taking the Aggies to bowl games in five of his six seasons. Last year he was the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year.
A new regime, however, does not mean major changes for Texas Tech — especially on offense, where the Red Raiders have been so successful in the past.
Wells tabbed David Yost as his offensive coordinator, and all indications are TTU’s Air Raid attack will remain in place for 2019. Will that be enough to get Texas Tech over the hump this season? Let’s take a look at the roster:
Quarterback: Last season, then-freshman Alan Bowman burst onto the scene early in the season before suffering a collapsed lung in a home game against West Virginia. He ended up missing four games with that injury in 2018, but still managed to throw for 2,638 yards and 17 touchdowns. Backup Jett Duffey, a junior this year, also played well in 2018.
Running backs: Ta’Zhawn Henry was another freshman who played well for Texas Tech in 2018 but was limited by injuries. Henry appeared in 11 games with a team-high 86 carries for 341 yards. TTU’s other underclassman running back from last season, Da’Leon Ward, entered the transfer portal in June.
Receivers: To the surprise of nobody, Texas Tech has some guys at receiver who can play. The Red Raiders will have veterans Seth Collins and T.J. Vasher back, as well as sophomore track star KeSean Carter and transfers McLane Mannix and R.J. Turner.
Offensive line: The Red Raiders offensive line is deep and returns lots of experience. Tackles Terence Steele and Travis Bruffy as well as guards Madison Akamnonu and Jack Anderson give the group a veteran presence.
Defensive line: Texas Tech’s defensive front is not very deep, but the Red Raiders do figure to emphasize forcing turnovers under new defensive coordinator Keith Patterson, who came from Utah State with Wells. TTU does have some experience on the line, albeit not a ton, with Eli Howard and Broderick Washington.
Linebackers: TTU loses one of the best defensive players to come through Lubbock in quite some time in linebacker Dakota Allen, but there are some pieces in place to step up in 2019. Jordyn Brooks and Riko Jeffers are back this season after combining for 144 tackles in 2018.
Defensive backs: Patterson’s USU defense tied for the FBS lead with 32 turnovers last season — 22 of those coming on interceptions. That bodes well for this group of Texas Tech defensive backs, which includes veterans Adrian Frye and and Jaylon Lane. The bad news, however, is that senior Justus Parker has been suspended for a year by the NCAA, meaning his collegiate career is over.
Cody Waddell and Austin McNamara will be competing to be the Red Raiders’ punter in 2019, while Trey Wolfe looks to be the guy at placekicker. Texas Tech will also need to find a new punt and kick returner for this season after the graduation of De’Quan Bowman.