Here are three key takeaways after members of the Texas Tech football program address the media ahead of their Week 5 matchup against West Virginia:
Shaking off the Rust
Texas Tech is coming off a brutal 70-35 loss against Texas. The Red Raiders took their 3-0 record and a lot of momentum into Austin, but it was clear right out of the gate that they were in for a long day against the Longhorns. Despite how demoralizing a loss like that may have seemed, the message from the team has clearly been to learn from it and move on.
“We try not to get too high on the highs, or too low on the lows,” senior linebacker Colin Schooler said.
“We’re focused on moving on right now.”
As the team moves on, Matt Wells sensed emotions were running high on his team and among the fanbase.
“For Sunday, and the better part of Monday . . . you got some guys that are hurting, some guys that are embarrassed,” Wells said.
“You’re only as good as your last game, and we all know that in the world that we live in with college football.”
The team will look to boost their confidence with a win in Morgantown, against a Mountaineers team that is 2-2.
The Red Raiders had been prioritizing the run game all season, but that urgency only increases with starting quarterback Tyler Shough being sidelined until November with a broken collarbone. Texas Tech had found great success with sophomore Tahj Brooks, but he’ll likely be out as well with a leg injury. SaRodorick Thompson will assume the bulk of the carries on Saturday, a role he held the past two seasons. However, West Virginia’s defensive line is impressive and will make establishing the run difficult.
“Their D-line is the strength of their defense, they’re really good,” Wells said.
“They’re really, really active.”
The Mountaineers are allowing just 2.5 yards per rush, and opponents have only scored one rushing touchdown through four games this season.
“They’re quick, they’re fast, they’re mobile,” Thompson said on what makes their defensive line a challenge.
“They just have a knack for being disruptive.”
As much of a challenge as it may be, the importance is clearly paramount to the Texas Tech offense.
“We know that this game is going to be won in the trenches,” Thompson said.
Running the football well may always be a point of emphasis by Coach Wells, but it takes an especially high priority with a backup quarterback now starting. With Shough on the sidelines, Henry Colombi will slide into the starting quarterback position. He started four games for the Red Raiders last season, making him no stranger to the role of a starter, but he’s still learning the system of new offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie.
“We’ve gotta be able to run the football and play really good on defense,” Wells said on his approach heading into Morgantown.
“I think those are the two keys to winning, especially with a backup quarterback.”
Despite the emphasis being placed on running the football effectively, Wells still holds confidence in his quarterback.
“Henry is smart,” Wells said on Colombi’s development over the offseason.
“I think Henry has grown in the knowledge of his offense since this spring.”
One area that will surely help Colombi find a rhythm is good passing protection. The Red Raiders’ offensive line has struggled at times this season, allowing six sacks through four games. Providing Colombi with protection will give him a good chance to beat the Mountaineers for the second time in his career.
“That’ll be a big key — to protect the quarterback, especially in obvious passing situations,” Wells said on the game this Saturday.
Find more Texas Tech coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.
Find more college sports coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.