Notes on the coach: Texas Tech HC Matt Wells still looking for first career win over Texas

Christina Huang, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the September 24 Double Coverage flipbook.

Texas Tech continues the quest for its first win over Texas under third-year head coach Matt Wells. The 2021 season is Wells’ ninth season as an NCAA head coach and he currently holds a 55-48 record. Wells and the Raiders are looking to upset the Longhorns on Saturday after coming close to doing so in 2020 during a 56-63 shootout.

In that shootout, former Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw touchdown passes to Brennan Eagles and Joshua Moore to even the score in the final three minutes and 13 seconds of the game. Ehlinger threw a dagger to Moore in overtime, sealing the Raiders’ fate with a seven point loss.

“(That was) a great college football game. Unfortunately, we didn’t win and there’s no moral victory at all in that for us,” Wells said after last year’s tough loss.

Despite zero wins against the Longhorns and an abysmal record at Tech, Wells has a history of building strong football programs.

Prior to his arrival in Lubbock, Wells spent nine years as the head coach of Utah State, his alma mater. Wells took the Aggies to five bowl game appearances and was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year in both 2013 and 2018.

Much of Wells’ success as a head coach can be attributed to his experience as a coach at various positions. Wells has experience as a quarterbacks, fullbacks, wide receivers and tight ends coach, respectively. His deep understanding of a variety of positions allows him to recognize how to better utilize players at each position, setting him up for program-changing potential success in Lubbock.

Wells’ victories at Utah State go beyond the collegiate level. With Wells at the helm, Utah State sent a handful of players to the NFL, including current Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love, soon-to-be Aaron Rodgers’ successor. Love was the first Aggie since 1970 to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Wells also produced NFL talent in Minnesota Vikings linebacker Nick Vigil, Kansas City Chiefs running back Darwin Thompson and Buffalo Bills linebacker Maurice Alexander.

Texas Tech’s initial draw to Wells was his exceptional work at Utah State, leading him to his current gig in Lubbock. At the time of his hiring in 2018, Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt had high praise for Wells.

“Quickly in the interview process, it became clear Matt Wells and his leadership style were a perfect fit to lead our football program,” Hocutt said. “We have a great future in store under Coach Wells, and I firmly believe he is the right coach to take us to an elite level.”

Although Wells has more than proved himself at Utah State, there is still work to be done within the Raiders program. Saturday will mark Tech’s biggest challenge this season so far, as the Raiders have only played unranked teams in Florida International University, Stephen F. Austin and Houston. Defeating Texas would allow Wells to take Tech’s program to the next level in becoming a Big 12 powerhouse.

Even though Wells will be coming to Austin to avenge last year’s loss, he will essentially face a new program with Sarkisian’s Longhorns. Saturday’s game will be a test for both programs as Sarkisian gets his first taste of Big 12 play as Texas’ new head coach while Wells tries once again to beat one of the conference’s most notable teams.