Wells inherits talent in first year with Red Raiders

Editor’s note: The following is the ninth in a series of previews of West Virginia’s football opponents for the 2019 season.

Matt Wells — one of four new coaches in the Big 12 Conference — takes over the reigns at Texas Tech this season.

Wells replaces Kliff Kingsbury (now the head coach with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals) after a successful tenure at Utah State, where he took the Aggies to five bowl games in six years.

Quarterback Alan Bowman, who suffered a serious lung injury in last year’s loss to West Virginia, is back to run the offense.

The sophomore threw for 2,638 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, despite missing four games with the injury.

Holdovers at receiver for the Red Raiders include Seth Collins and the 6-foot-6 T.J. Vasher, who had 54 receptions for 687 yards and seven scores in 2018.

Collins, who transfered from Oregon State, had 32 catches in his first year with the team.

Travis Koontz, one of the nation’s top JUCO tight ends, also supplies another weapon in the pass game.

McLane Mannix, a transfer from Nevada, is another player to watch after he collected 50 catches and caught seven touchdowns for the Wolf Pack last season.

Sophomore Ta’Zhawn Henry is back at running back and will be pushed for the starting job by Utah transfer Armand Shyne.

Four starters return on the offensive line, including tackles Terence Steele and Travis Bruffy, along with guards Madison Akamnonu and Jack Anderson, who was named to the All-Big 12 Preseason Team.

Keith Patterson, who was WVU’s defensive coordinator from 2012-13, takes over the same role for Tech. He inherits a defense that allowed 448.9 yards per game in 2018.

Eli Howard, Nick McCann, Joseph Wallace and Broderick Washington all return up front, while Jordyn Brooks and Riko Jefferson are veterans at the linebacker spots.

The secondary was solid in 2018 and returns experience at the corners. The safety spots, however, will have some new faces.

Thomas Leggett, Adrian Frye, Desmon Smith, DeMarcus Fields and Douglas Coleman will comprise the corner and safety spots.

Frye earned All-American Freshman honors last season after grabbing five interceptions.

He also earned a spot on the All-Big 12 Conference Preseason Team.