Utah State 51, Idaho State 13
Air Force 27, Utah State 20
Utah State 45, Weber State 6
Fourth-year head coach Matt Wells welcomes back 12 starters (O-9, D-3) and 38 letterwinners (O-20, D-15, S-3) from last year's team that finished tied for second in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West with a 5-3 record, and played in its school-record fifth-straight bowl game.
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Entering his fifth season as Utah State’s head coach, Matt Wells is determined to lead the Aggies back into a bowl game and into the upper echelon of the Mountain West after a disappointing 2016 season.
Wells, who is the sixth-longest tenured coach in 120 seasons of Aggie football, holds a 28-25 record in his first four seasons at USU, including a 19-13 Mountain West record. Those 28 wins are the second-most by a USU coach in his first four seasons and the fifth-most in school history, while his 52.8 winning percentage ranks seventh all-time.
Utah State has also recorded three wins against top-25 opponents during Wells’ first four years as head coach, one more than the program won in its previous 115 seasons.
During his six years at Utah State, which includes two years as an assistant, Wells has been part of a program that played in a school-record five-straight bowl games. In fact, Wells is the first head coach in program history to lead the Aggies to three bowl games and the only head coach with multiple bowl wins.
During the 2016 season, Utah State had six players earn various all-Mountain West honors as it lost five conference games by a combined 29 points (5.8 ppg). USU also had two players invited to postseason All-Star games, while one player was selected in the 2017 NFL Draft in Devante Mays. Furthermore, USU had eight other Aggies who signed free agent contracts.
In 2015, Wells led Utah State to six wins and its fifth-straight bowl game as the Aggies had 12 players earn various all-Mountain West honors, which were the third-most in the conference. Furthermore, senior linebacker Kyler Fackrell was named a fourth-team All-American by Phil Steele’s Magazine.
Utah State also had five players invited to postseason All-Star games/camps, while three Aggies participated in the NFL Combine in Fackrell, Hunter Sharp and Nick Vigil. Furthermore, USU had two players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft in Vigil and Fackrell, both in the third round, while six other Aggies signed free agent contracts and two more were invited to rookie mini-camps.
During the 2014 season, Wells led Utah State to 10 wins to rank as the second-most in school history behind the 2012 team that finished with an 11-2 record. USU also played in its fourth-straight bowl game in 2014 and won its third-straight bowl.
In his second year as Utah State’s head coach, Wells mentored 15 players who earned 16 all-Mountain West honors, which were the most in the league and tied for the third-most in school history. Wells also mentored two All-Americans in 2014 in Zach Vigil and Jalen Davis. Vigil was named an All-American by four different publications, including being named a USA Today Sports second-team All-American, while Davis was named a true freshman All-American by 247Sports. Vigil was named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year.
In his first season as head coach, Wells led Utah State to the inaugural Mountain West Championship game after winning the Mountain Division of the conference with a 7-1 record in 2013. Wells also led Utah State to just its third-ever bowl victory as it posted a 21-14 win against No. 24 Northern Illinois in the 2013 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
For his efforts, Wells was named the 2013 Mountain West Coach of the Year as he set the school record for wins by a first-year head coach. USU finished the season with a 9-5 record, tying the 1960 and 1961 teams for the second-most wins in school history at the time.
Overall, Wells is the fifth USU coach in school history to garner conference coach of the year honors along with Bruce Snyder (1978), Chuck Shelton (1991), John L. Smith (1997) and Gary Andersen (2012). Wells is also the fourth individual to earn MW Coach of the Year honors in his first season along with BYU’s Gary Crowton (2001), Utah’s Urban Meyer (2003) and Air Force’s Troy Calhoun (2007).
During his first year as Utah State’s head coach, Wells mentored 14 Aggies who earned various all-Mountain West honors, including three All-Americans as Tyler Larsen was named a second-team All-American by USA Today Sports, Nevin Lawson was named a third-team All-American by College Sports Madness, and Fackrell was named an honorable mention Sophomore All-American by College Football News.
Wells also coached a school-record four players who were invited and participated in the 2014 NFL Combine in Larsen, Lawson, Maurice Alexander and D.J. Tialavea, while a total of 16 players from the 2013 and 2014 rosters were invited to NFL/CFL camps, including Alexander (St. Louis Rams) and Lawson (Detroit Lions), who were both selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Wells, who is one of 18 coaches to lead his alma mater, is just the second Utah State graduate to be appointed its head football coach joining Chris Pella, who graduated from USU in 1965 and coached the Aggies from 1983-85.
Prior to being named the head coach at his alma mater, Wells spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach at Utah State, including serving as the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2012 and quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator in 2011.
As offensive coordinator in 2012, Utah State concluded its most successful season in school history as it went 11-2 and set school records for wins (11) and home wins (6), while being nationally ranked in The Associated Press poll for three-straight weeks for the first time in school history. USU also won its first outright conference championship since 1936 and just its third in school history joining the 1921 and 1936 teams that both won Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference titles. All-time, Utah State has won or shared 11 league championships.
As offensive coordinator in 2012, Wells directed an Aggie offense that set single-season school records for total points (454), total offense (6,108 yards), completions (285) and total yards per game (469.8), while ranking second in points per game (34.9) and total passing yards (3,445).
Nationally, Utah State’s 2012 offense ranked second in the Western Athletic Conference and 23rd in the country in total offense (469.8 ypg), second in the WAC and 18th in the nation in passing efficiency (153.21), second in the WAC and 25th in the nation in rushing offense (204.8 ypg), third in the WAC and 31st in the nation in sacks allowed (1.38 pg), third in the WAC and 33rd in the nation in scoring offense (34.9 ppg), and third in the WAC and 39th in the nation in passing offense (265.0 ypg).
Under Wells, Utah State finished the 2012 season scoring 38 or more points in its final seven games, which is a school record.
In 2012, Wells coached former Aggie Chuckie Keeton, who earned first-team all-WAC honors after setting single-season school records for touchdown passes (27), passing yards (3,373), completion percentage (.676), completions (275) and total offense (3,992 yards). Keeton also earned WAC Offensive Player of the Week honors four times in 2012, which is a single-season school record.
Under Wells’ tutelage, Keeton ranks first all-time in school history in career touchdown passes (62), first in career total offense (8,808 yards), second in career completions (672), second in career passing yardage (8,695), second in career passing attempts (1,068), tied for second in career completion percentage (.629) and 14th in career rushing yards (1,415).
As the quarterbacks coach in 2011, Wells helped Utah State’s offense establish then-school records for total offense (5,945 yards), rushing yards (3,675), total points (437) and total touchdowns (60).
Wells, a former Aggie quarterback and three-year letterwinner from 1994-96, was a member of two conference championship teams as a student-athlete as he was a redshirt freshman in 1993 when Utah State tied for first in the Big West Conference and defeated Ball State, 42-33, in the Las Vegas Bowl II for its first-ever bowl win. As a senior in 1996, Wells helped USU to another share of the Big West Conference title.
Wells, who has been a part of nine bowl teams and two conference championships during his coaching career, came to Utah State after two coaching stints at New Mexico, serving as the Lobos’ wide receivers and kickoff return unit coach in 2010 and wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator from 2007 to 2008. In 2009, Wells served as the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at Louisville.
Prior to his first stint at New Mexico, Wells spent five years (2002-06) as the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at Tulsa and five years at the U.S. Naval Academy (1997-2001) as its quarterbacks coach, fullbacks coach and wide receivers coach, while also serving as the junior varsity head coach and offensive coordinator for three years.
Wells, a native of Sallisaw, Okla., earned his bachelor’s degree in business marketing from Utah State in 1996, graduating cum laude. He and his wife Jen have two daughters, Jadyn (14) and Ella (11), and one son, Wyatt (8). His brother, Luke, is USU’s tight ends and inside receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.
MATT WELLS FILE Coaching History: 2013- Utah State - Head Coach 2012 Utah State - Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks 2011 Utah State - Quarterbacks/Recruiting Coordinator 2010 New Mexico - Wide Receivers 2009 Louisville - Quarterbacks/Passing Game Coordinator 2007-08 New Mexico - Wide Receivers/Recruiting Coordinator 2002-06 Tulsa - Tight Ends/Recruiting Coordinator 1997-01 Navy - Quarterbacks/Fullbacks/Wide Receivers/ J.V. Head Coach
Bowl Games: Utah State - Famous Idaho Potato, 2015; New Mexico, 2014; Poinsettia, 2013; Famous Idaho Potato, 2012; Famous Idaho Potato, 2011 New Mexico - New Mexico, 2007 Tulsa - Armed Forces, 2006; Liberty, 2005; Humanitarian, 2003
Conference Championships Utah State - WAC: 2012 Tulsa - Conference USA: 2005
Playing Experience: 1993-96 Utah State - Quarterback
Bowl Games as Player 1993 Las Vegas
Education: 1996 Utah State - Business Marketing (Cum Laude)
Family: Wife, Jen; Daughters - Jadyn (13), Ella (10); Son - Wyatt (7).
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