LOGAN, Utah -
(RV) UTAH STATE (0-0) vs. TENNESSEE (0-0)
SUNDAY, AUG. 31, 2014 5:06 P.M. (MT) KNOXVILLE, TENN. NEYLAND STADIUM (102,455)
GAME ONE INFORMATION
Surface - Tifway 419 Bermuda Hybrid Grass
Series History - First Meeting
TV: SEC NETWORK
Play-by-Play - Joe Tessitore
Analyst - Brock Huard
Reporter - Shannon Spake
Online: - ESPN3.com
RADIO: AGGIE SPORTS NETWORK
Play-by-Play - Al Lewis
Analyst - Craig Hislop
Special Guest - Al Smith
Online: - 610kvnu.com
National: - Sirius/XM Ch. 91
Official Account - @USUFootball
AGGIES OPEN 2014 SEASON IN SEC COUNTRY
Utah State will open the 2014 season on the road for the fifth time in the last six seasons and 59th time in program history as it plays at Tennessee on Sunday, Aug. 31 at 5 p.m. (MT). Overall, it is the second time in the past four years that USU has begun its season in SEC country as it lost at defending national champion Auburn, 42-38, to start the 2011 campaign. All-time, Utah State is playing an SEC school to start the season for the fourth time in school history, all in the last 16 years, as it also played at Alabama to start to the 2004 season (L, 48-17) and at No. 12 George to start the 1999 season (L, 38-7). Overall, USU is 1-16 all-time against SEC schools with its lone win coming at Kentucky, 35-6, on Oct. 10, 1970.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR SUNDAY
Utah State enters the 2014 season having won 25 of its last 33 games and those eight losses have been by a combined 48 points (6.0 ppg) as it lost to Ohio (24-23) in the 2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, at No. 22 Wisconsin (16-14) and at BYU (6-3) in 2012, and at Utah (30-26), at USC (17-14), against BYU (31-14), against Boise State (34-23) and at No. 24 Fresno State (24-17) in 2013. Those 25 wins are also the third-most in the West behind Oregon (28) and Stanford (26).
Utah State is 11-5 during its last 16 road games dating back to the 2012 season, averaging 32.7 points per game during that stretch.
Utah State returns 11 of its 22 regular starters from 2013, six on offense and five on defense. In addition, the Aggies return all three of its kickers from last season. USU also returns 38 letterwinners from a year ago, 17 on offense, 18 on defense and three specialists.
Utah State has forced at least one turnover in each of its last 23 games dating back to the 2012 season. The last time USU did not force a turnover was in its 31-19 win at Colorado State on Sept. 22, 2012. In all, USU has forced 47 turnovers in its last 23 games (2.04 pg).
Utah State is one of just nine Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs to win at least 20 games and record two bowl victories in the past two years joining Central Florida, Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, Michigan State, Oregon, Texas A&M and South Carolina.
Utah State received one top 25 vote in the preseason Associated Press poll to tie for 48th in the nation. It is the second-straight year that USU has received votes in the preseason AP poll.
UTAH STATE TRAVELS TO TENNESSEE TO START SEASON
Utah State will kickoff its 117th season of college football on Sunday, Aug. 31 at Tennessee at 5 p.m. (MT). The game will be televised nationally on the SEC Network (DirecTV Ch. 611, Dish Network Ch. 408, Comcast Ch. 286 in Cache Valley) with Joe Tessitore (play-by-play), Brock Huard (analyst) and Shannon Spake (reporter) on the call. Live audio of the game is also available on www.UtahStateAggies.com.
SPEAKING OF SUNDAYS
Sunday games are not the norm for Utah State as the Aggies will be playing on the Sabbath for just the fourth time in program history joining the 1971 team that played a pair of Sunday games in back-to-back weeks (Dec. 19, Dec. 26) in Japan against two different Japanese All-Star teams, and the 1978 team that played Idaho State in Japan on Sept. 3.
THE FIRST OF 13 REGULAR SEASON GAMES
Utah State will play 13 regular season games for the first time in school history during the 2014 season with six home games and seven road contests (teams that play at Hawai'i during the regular season have the option of playing a 13th game).
UTAH STATE HAS FIVE BOWL TEAMS ON ITS 2014 SCHEDULE
Utah State's 2014 schedule features five teams who played in bowl games a year ago as Arkansas State played in the GoDaddy Bowl (W, 23-20 vs. Ball State); BYU played in the Fight Hunger Bowl (L, 31-16 vs. Washington); Colorado State played in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl (W, 48-45 vs. Washington State); UNLV played in the Heart of Dallas Bowl (L, 36-14 vs. North Texas); and Boise State played in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (L, 38-23 vs. Oregon State).
UTAH STATE ENTERING SECOND SEASON IN MOUNTAIN WEST
Utah State is entering its second year as a member of the Mountain West and has been a Division I-A football playing school in each of its 116 seasons of competition. USU joined the Mountain States/Skyline Conference in 1938 until 1961. USU then played as a football independent from 1962-77 when the Aggies became members of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association in 1978. The PCAA changed its name to the Big West Conference in 1988. Following the 2000 season when the Big West no longer sponsored football, USU spent two years as an independent (2001-02) and two years in the Sun Belt Conference (2003-04), before joining the Western Athletic Conference for eight seasons from 2005-12.
UTAH STATE COACHING CHANGES FOR 2014
Utah State's coaching staff had just two changes during the offense, and both were on the defensive side of the ball. Second-year head coach Matt Wells hired Joe Lorig as the linebackers coach and Ikaika Malloe as the defensive line coach. Lorig replaces Kevin Clune who was named the defensive coordinator at Hawai'i, while Malloe replaces Frank Maile who was named the defensive line coach at Vanderbilt.
LOOKING BACK ON 2013
Utah State ended the 2013 season with a 9-5 record, which is tied with the 1960 and 1961 teams for the second-most wins in school history, and trailing the 2012 team that set the single-season school record with 11 wins. USU ended the 2013 season with two votes in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls to rank tied for 37th in the nation in both polls. Overall, Utah State recorded back-to-back-back winning seasons for the first time since 1978-80 as it went 7-6 in 2011, 11-2 in 2012 and 9-5 in 2013.
AGGIES WIN BACK-TO-BACK BOWL GAMES FOR FIRST TIME EVER
Utah State played in its third-straight bowl game for the first time ever as it posted a 21-14 win against No. 24 Northern Illinois in the 2013 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. Overall, USU has now won back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history and is 3-6 all-time in nine bowl game appearances.
AGGIES WIN MOUNTAIN DIVISION, PLAY IN MW CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Utah State finished its first season in the Mountain West by going 7-1 in league play to win the Mountain Division title and advance to the inaugural Mountain West Championship game, where it lost at No. 24 Fresno State, 24-17. USU's seven league wins in 2013 are a school record, bettering the six league wins set in 1936 and 2012. Overall, USU has won 18 of its last 19 league games dating back to 2011, including a school record 11 straight on the road, and won a school record 13 straight conference games before falling to Boise State, 34-23, at home on Oct. 12, 2013.
WHAT UTAH STATE MUST REPLACE FROM 2013
Utah State lost eight players who earned all-Mountain West honors in 2013 as linebacker Jake Doughty, center Tyler Larsen and cornerback Nevin Lawson all earned first-team accolades, nose guard AJ Pataiali'i earned second-team honors, and safety Maurice Alexander, running back Joey DeMartino, guard Jamie Markosian and tackle Eric Schultz all earned honorable mention honors. In all, USU lost 28 lettermen from last year's team.
A QUICK LOOK AT UTAH STATE THIS SEASON
Utah State returns six players who earned all-Mountain West honors a year ago in senior DE B.J. Larsen (second team), senior LB Zach Vigil (second team), junior LB Kyler Fackrell (second team), senior PK Nick Diaz (honorable mention), senior FS Brian Suite (honorable mention) and junior PR JoJo Natson (honorable mention). Utah State also returns senior QB Chuckie Keeton, who earned first-team all-WAC honors as a sophomore in 2012. Other starters returning for USU include senior RB Joe Hill, senior OT Kevin Whimpey, junior WR Brandon Swindall, sophomore QB Darell Garretson and sophomore LB Nick Vigil. Utah State also returns two other specialists from a year ago in senior P/H Jaron Bentrude and sophomore K Jake Thompson. Overall, the Aggies return 38 players who have earned letters during their careers, 17 on offense, 18 on defense and three specialists. Furthermore, of the 63 players on USU's depth chart (page 27), 20 are seniors, 24 are juniors, 12 are sophomores and seven are freshmen, including five true freshmen.
WELLS NAMED 2013 MOUNTAIN WEST COACH OF THE YEAR
Second-year head coach Matt Wells was named the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year in 2013 as he led Utah State to a 9-5 record and a Mountain Division Championship with a 7-1 league record, despite losing five offensive starters to season-ending injuries including junior QB and Heisman Trophy candidate Chuckie Keeton. Wells also set the single-season school record for wins by a first year head coach with nine, bettering Tony Knap whose Aggies went 8-2 in 1963. Overall, Wells became just the fifth coach in school history and second in as many years to earn conference coach of the year honors as Gary Andersen earned WAC Coach of the Year accolades in 2012, while Bruce Snyder (1978), Chuck Shelton (1991) and John L. Smith (1997) all earned Big West Coach of the Year honors. Wells is also just the fourth individual to earn Mountain West Coach of the Year honors in his first season joining BYU's Gary Crowton (2001), Utah's Urban Meyer (2003) and Air Force's Troy Calhoun (2007).
WELLS 12TH-YOUNGEST HEAD COACH IN THE NATION
Matt Wells is the 12th-youngest head coach at the FBS level at 41 years of age (8-10-73). Wells is also just the second USU graduate to be appointed its head football coach joining Chris Pella who graduated from USU in 1965 and coached the Aggies from 1983-85. Wells was a three-year letterwinner at quarterback from USU from 1994-96.
WELLS ONE OF 13 HEAD COACHES AT HIS ALMA MATER
Matt Wells is one of 13 head coaches at the FBS level who played football at the same school he is currently the head coach joining Troy Calhoun (Air Force), Bryan Harsin (Boise State), Ruffin McNeill (East Carolina), Paul Haynes (Kent State), Don Treadwell (Miami, Ohio), Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern), Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State), David Shaw (Stanford), Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech), Bill Blankenship (Tulsa), Sean Kugler (UTEP) and Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech).
OFFENSIVE NOTABLES FROM 2013
Utah State returns one offensive player who has earned all-league honors as senior QB Chuckie Keeton was a first-team all-WAC selection as a sophomore in 2012. Keeton missed the final eight games of the 2013 campaign with a knee injury.
Utah State's offense in 2013 ended up being one of the best in school history, statistically, as it set single-season school records for pass completions (297), total offensive plays (1,073), touchdown passes (30) and first downs (310), including first downs passing (156), while its 445 points scored and 481 pass attempts both rank second all-time. Furthermore, USU's 56 touchdowns rank third and its 31.7 points per game average ranks fifth all-time in school history. USU also set a school record by playing 14 games during the season.
Utah State converted 105-of-232 third downs (.453) to rank second in the Mountain West and 29th in the nation.
Utah State had seven 100-yard rushers in 2013 and has now had a 100-yard rusher 37 times in the last five years, a span of 64 games. Prior to its current run, USU produced a 100-yard rusher just 23 times in its previous eight seasons.
Utah State junior WR JoJo Natson scored two receiving touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns and two punt return touchdowns during the 2013 season and was the only player at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level to accomplish this feat. Natson earned honorable mention all-Mountain West honors as a punt returner in 2013.
Sophomore QB Darell Garretson was one of just 21 true freshmen at the FBS level to start at quarterback during the 2013 season. Overall, Garretson went 6-1 as a starter and set the school record with five-straight wins to begin a career.
DEFENSIVE NOTABLES FROM 2013
Utah State returns four defenders who earned all-Mountain West honors in 2013 as junior LB Kyler Fackrell, senior DE B.J. Larsen and senior LB Zach Vigil were all named to the second-team, while senior FS Brian Suite earned honorable mention honors. Junior DE Jordan Nielsen earned second-team all-WAC honors as a redshirt freshman in 2012.
Utah State's defense finished the 2013 season by holding five of its last seven opponents to 14 or fewer points and did not give up more than 24 points in its final seven games. USU was also the only FBS team not to allow a touchdown run of 10 or more yards in 2013.
Utah State allowed just 106.7 rushing yards, which is the fewest by an Aggie defense since the 1968 team allowed just 100.4 rushing yards per game. USU also allowed just 17.1 points per game in 2013, which is the second-fewest by an Aggie defense since the 1971 team allowed 16.6 points per game (the 2012 defense allowed just 15.4 ppg). Overall, those 17.1 points per game allowed by USU rank as the 11th-fewest in school history.
Utah State ranked first in the Mountain West and seventh in the nation in points allowed (17.1 ppg). USU also ranked first in the MW and eighth in the nation in rushing defense (106.7 ypg), first in the MW and 12th in the nation in total defense (330.9 ypg), first in the MW and 15th in the nation in passing efficiency defense (113.2), second in the MW and 35th in the nation in sacks (2.43 pg), and second in the MW and 52nd in the nation in passing defense (224.1 ypg).
Utah State limited its opponents to just 75 first downs on 230 third-down attempts (.326) to rank first in the Mountain West and 11th in the nation.
Utah State ranked eighth in the nation forcing 78 three-and-outs on 173 drives, which averages out to 45.1 percent of the time and 5.57 per game.
Utah State's defense held its opponents to just 13 points following 16 USU turnovers.
Utah State ranked first in the Mountain West and sixth nationally as it allowed 31-of-45 (.689) scoring opportunities in the red zone. Overall, USU allowed only 19 touchdowns on 45 trips into the red zone (.422), which ranked second in the nation.
Utah State ranked first in the Mountain West and second in the nation in punt return defense as it allowed just 1.30 yards per punt return, and first in the MW and fifth in the nation in kickoff return defense as it allowed 17.58 yards per kick return.
TEAM NOTABLE FROM 2013
Utah State ranked first in the Mountain West and 19th in the nation with a turnover margin of plus 0.79 as it had 30 takeaways and 19 turnovers.
DID YOU KNOW?
Utah State has won 15-straight games when it has had a 100-yard rusher, with its last loss coming against Ohio (24-23) in the 2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Last year, USU was 9-1 when it rushed at least 40 times and 0-4 when it had less than 40 rushing attempts.
First all-time with a career completion percentage of 66.5 percent (517-777).
First all-time with an interception percentage of 0.017 as he has thrown just 13 interceptions in 777 pass attempts.
Second all-time with 56 career touchdown passes. Jose Fuentes (1999-2002) holds the school record at 60.
Tied for second all-time with 517 career completions along with Diondre Borel (2007-10). Fuentes holds the school record with 704 completions.
Third all-time with 7,114 yards of total offense (5,961-passing, 1,153-rushing). Fuentes holds the school record with 8,791 yards, while Borel is second with 8,096 yards.
Sixth all-time with 5,961 passing yards. Fuentes holds the school record with 9,168 yards.
Seventh all-time with 777 career pass attempts. Fuentes holds the school record with 1,270.
22nd all-time with 1,153 career rushing yards (252 carries, 4.6 ypc). Demario Brown (1996-99) holds the school record with 4,053 yards, while Borel holds the school record with 1,398 yards by a quarterback. Overall, Keeton is just the 25th player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards and just the second quarterback.
Set single-season school records as a sophomore in 2012 for touchdown passes (27), passing yards (3,373), total offensive yards (3,992), completions (275) and completion percentage (.676), and broke his own completion percentage record as a junior (.694).
Is the only quarterback in school history to have five touchdown passes in three games as he tied the single-game school record against both Air Force (9/7/13) and Weber State (9/14/13) during his junior season, as well as against Wyoming (10/8/11) as a freshman.
Set a single-game school record with an 88.0 percent completion percentage against Southern Utah (8/30/12) during his sophomore season as he was 22-of-25 passing.
Tied the single-game school record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 121 yards on a career-high tying 17 carries in a 48-41 overtime win at No. 19 Louisiana Tech (11/17/12) during his sophomore season. Tony Adams set the record in 1972.
Chuckie Keeton AMONG ACTIVE FBS QUARTERBACKS
In just 28 career games, senior Chuckie Keeton ranks among the top 12 FBS quarterbacks in the following 12 categories:
5th in Completion Percentage - 66.5%
7th in TD Passes - 56
7th among QBs with 5,000 Passing Yards & 1,000 Rushing Yards - 5,961 passing /1,153 rushing
7th in Passing Efficiency - 151.42
8th in Total TDs Responsible For - 70
8th in Rushing Yards by a QB - 1,153
10th in Total Offense - 7,114 yards (5,961 passing + 1,153 rushing)
10th in Pass Completions - 517
10th in Completions Per Game - 18.46
11th in Pass Attempts - 777
12th in Passing Yards - 5,961
12th in Passing Yards Per Game - 212.9
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN FOR KEETON IN 2013
Senior QB Chuckie Keeton was putting up some gaudy numbers during his junior season before missing the final eight games with a knee injury suffered against BYU on Oct. 4. Through his first five games, Keeton ranked second in the nation with 17 touchdown passes, while also ranking first in the Mountain West and second in the nation in points responsible for (22.8 pg), second in the MW and 22nd in the nation in passing efficiency (161.6), third in the MW and eighth in the nation in completions (26.4 pg), third in the MW and 11th in the nation in completion percentage (.710), third in the MW and 18th in the nation in total offense (317.2 ypg), and fourth in the MW and 25th in the nation in passing (272.4 ypg). Keeton concluded his junior campaign completing 136-of-196 passes for 1,388 yards (231.3 ypg) with 18 touchdowns and two interceptions, while rushing for 241 yards on 55 carries (40.2 ypg/4.4 ypc) with two more scores. Those 18 touchdown passes rank tied for ninth all-time at USU, while his completion percentage of 69.4 percent ranks first all-time.
DID YOU KNOW?
Senior QB Chuckie Keeton is one of just eight active quarterbacks at the FBS level who holds their school's single-season passing record along with Shane Carden (East Carolina), Garrett Grayson (Colorado State), Jard Goff (California), Connor Halliday (Washington State), Brett Hundley (UCLA), Sean Mannion (Oregon State) and Brandon Doughty (Western Kentucky). Keeton set the USU record with 3,373 passing yards during his sophomore season in 2012.
Second all-time in extra points made with 91. Brad Bohn (1997-2000) holds the school record with 107.
Third all-time in extra point attempts with 92. Bohn holds the school record with 119, while Steve Steinke (1977-80) is second at 95.
Third all-time in extra point percentage at 98.9 percent. Willie Beecher (1981-84) and Russ Moody (1988-89) are tied for first as neither missed an extra point during their careers as Beecher was 64-of-64 and Moody was 44-of-44.
Third all-time in field goal percentage at 75.0 percent (27-36). Moody holds the school record at 84.6 percent (22-26), while Doug Beach (1990-92) ranks second at 75.9 percent (22-29).
Seventh all-time with 27 field goals made. Bohn holds the school record with 59.
Eighth all-time with 36 field goal attempts. Bohn holds the school record with 89.
Tied for 10th all-time in scoring with 172 points, along with Beecher. Robert Turbin (2007-11) holds the school record with 308 career points.
Ranked second following the 2013 season in both extra points made (51) and attempted (52), while his extra point percentage (.980) ranked ninth for a single-season in school history.
Ranked fifth following the 2013 season with 17 made field goals and seventh with his 23 field goal attempts.
Kyler Fackrell IN THE AGGIE RECORD BOOK
Junior LB Kyler Fackrell has intercepted four passes during his career for 125 return yards, which ranks tied for ninth all-time in school history along with Rob Fuhriman (1972-74). Fackrell is the only linebacker among USU's top 10 career leaders in this category. The school record for career interception return yards is 373 set by Henry King (1965-66).
Fackrell's 99-yard interception return for a touchdown against Hawai'i in 2013 ranked as the third-longest in school and Mountain West history. Those 99 interception return yards also rank Fackrell 10th on USU's single-season lists.
JoJo Natson IN THE AGGIE RECORD BOOK
Junior WR/PR JoJo Natson ranks third all-time in school history with a punt return average of 11.3 yards as he returned 31 punts for 351 yards as a sophomore. The school record for career punt return average is 14.1 yards set by Kevin Robinson (2004-07).
Zach Vigil IN THE AGGIE RECORD BOOK
Senior LB Zach Vigil ranks 28th all-time in school history with 233 career tackles. As a junior, Vigil recorded 124 tackles (47-solo, 77-assist) marking the 60th time in school history that a player has recorded 100 or more tackles in a single-season. Vigil concluded the 2012 season with 105 tackles and is one of just 15 players in school history to record 100 or more tackles multiple times during a career. Overall, Vigil had six double-digit tackle outings last year and has 11 in his career.
ZACH AND Nick Vigil RANK SECOND AMONG ACTIVE BROTHERS IN TACKLES
Senior LB Zach Vigil has recorded 233 tackles during his career and sophomore LB Nick Vigil has recorded 57 career tackles. Overall, the two brothers have combined for 290 career tackles to rank second at the FBS level as far as active brothers trailing only Duke's Kelby and Kyler Brown who have combined for 315 career tackles.
AGGIES DEFENSE AMONG THE BEST IN THE NATION THE LAST TWO YEARS
Utah State's defense has been among the best in the nation during the past two seasons as it has ranked among the top 15 teams each year in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense.
Utah State is one of just three teams to rank among the top seven nationally in scoring defense in each of the past two seasons along with Alabama and Florida State as USU allowed just 15.4 points per game in 2012 and just 17.1 points per game in 2013. During the past two seasons, USU ranks fourth nationally allowing an average of just 16.26 points per game trailing only Alabama (12.37 ppg), Florida State (13.43 ppg) and Michigan State (14.70 ppg). Overall, it is the first time USU has allowed less than 18.0 points per game in consecutive seasons since 1965 and 1966.
Utah State is one of just five teams to rank among the top 13 nationally in rushing defense in each of the past two seasons along with Alabama, Michigan State, Rutgers and Stanford as USU allowed just 113.8 rushing yards per game in 2012 and just 106.7 rushing yards per game in 2013. During the past two seasons, USU ranks fifth nationally allowing an average of just 110.1 rushing yards per game trailing only Alabama (90.7 ypg), Michigan State (92.4 ypg), Stanford (93.2 ypg) and Rutgers (99.0 ypg).
During the 2013 season, Utah State allowed just two 100-yard rushers, just nine rushing touchdowns and just six rushes of 20 or more yards in 14 games, while its longest rushing touchdown allowed was from seven yards. USU ended the 2013 season by holding five of its last six opponents to less than 100 yards rushing, including each of its last four.
Utah State is one of just six teams to rank among the top 14 nationally in total defense in each of the past two seasons along with Alabama, Bowling Green, Florida, Florida State and Michigan State as USU allowed just 322.1 yards of total offense per game in 2012 and just 330.9 yards of total offense per game in 2013. During the past two seasons, USU ranks eighth nationally allowing an average of just 326.6 yards of total offense per game trailing only Michigan State (262.9 ypg), Alabama (267.6 ypg), Florida State (267.8 ypg), Florida (300.3 ypg), Virginia Tech (308.4 ypg), Bowling Green (309.5 ypg) and Wisconsin (314.1 ypg).
MORE DEFENSIVE NOTES DURING THE PAST TWO SEASONS
Utah State has led at the half in 22 of its last 29 games dating back to 2011 and is 19-3 in those contests. USU has also led or been tied at the end of the first quarter in 20 of its last 29 games and is 18-2 in those contest, but 1-5 during its last 29 games when trailing at the end of the first period and 2-5 during its last 29 games when trailing at the end of the first half.
Utah State has not allowed a first quarter touchdown in 24 of its last 30 games dating back to the 2011 season as USU was the only Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team in the nation not to allow a first quarter touchdown during the 2012 season. Furthermore, USU has held 16 of its last 26 opponents without a first half touchdown, while six of those 26 opponents have been held scoreless in the first-half.
AGGIES TOP TWO QB's ARE 23-11 AS A STARTER
Utah State has plenty of experience and production with its top two quarterbacks in senior Chuckie Keeton and sophomore Darell Garreston. Keeton is 17-10 all-time as a starter at Utah State, while Garretson went 6-1 as a starter last season including setting the school record with five-straight wins to start a career. In fact, those 17 career wins by Keeton rank third all-time in school history for a starting QB behind only Tony Adams (1970-72) and John Pappas (1966-68) who had 22 and 18 wins, respectively.
UTAH STATE STARTED THREE DIFFERENT QB's IN 2013
Utah State started three different quarterbacks last year in juniors Chuckie Keeton and Craig Harrison, along with freshman Darell Garreston, which ranked tied for the second-most in the nation along with Hawai'i, Nevada, Temple, Western Kentucky and West Virginia. Air Force led the nation in most quarterbacks started with four. Of those seven schools who started at least three quarterbacks last year, Utah State had a 9-5 record, Western Kentucky was 8-4, West Virginia was 4-8, Nevada was 4-8, Air Force was 2-10, Temple was 2-10 and Hawai'i was 1-11.
AGGIES THREW JUST 10 INTERCEPTIONS IN 2013
Utah State threw a total of just 10 interceptions in 2013 to rank fourth in the Mountain West and 35th in the nation. Freshman quarterback Darell Garretson threw seven interceptions in 209 attempts, junior quarterback Chuckie Keeton threw two picks in 196 attempts and junior quarterback Craig Harrison threw one pick in 74 attempts.
AGGIES IN OVERTIME
With its 48-41 overtime win at No. 19 Louisiana Tech on Nov. 17, 2012, Utah State improved to 6-4 all-time in overtime, including winning each of its last three. All-time, USU is 4-2 in single-overtime games, 2-1 in double-overtime games, and 0-1 in triple overtime games.
AGGIES LOOKING FOR FOURTH-STRAIGHT 1,000-YARD RUSHER
Utah State recorded its third-straight 1,000-yard rusher in 2013 as Joey DeMartino rushed for 1,2221 yards on 221 carries. In 2012, Kerwynn Williams rushed for 1,512 yards on 218 carries, and in 2011 Robert Turbin rushed for 1,517 yards on 249 carries. USU also had three 1,000-yard rushers from 1999 to 2001 and from 1973 to 1975, but never has Utah State had four-straight 1,000-yard rushers.
AGGIE TIGHT ENDS SET SCHOOL RECORD WITH NINE TD CATCHES IN 2013
Utah State's tight ends set the single-season school record for touchdown receptions in 2013 with nine as D.J. Tialavea and Keegan Andersen each had three, sophomore Wyatt Houston had two, and junior Kyler Fackrell had one. The previous record was seven set in 1993.
AGGIES IN THE NFL
Utah State currently has 16 players on NFL rosters and has had eight players drafted into the NFL in the past four years. According to Emory Sports Marketing Analytics, USU is the fifth-most efficient program in the nation at converting high school talent into NFL draft picks during the past three years.
UTAH STATE ON NATIONAL TELEVISION
Utah State has 10 games that will be nationally televised during the 2014 season including its season-opener at Tennessee which will be on the SEC Network. USU will also have two games televised on the CBS Sports Network when it hosts Wake Forest (9/13) and plays at Colorado State (10/18). USU's game at BYU (10/3) will be on ESPN, while its game at Wyoming (11/7) and against San José State (11/21) will both be on ESPN2. Utah State has four more games that will be broadcast on one of the ESPN networks this season, including home games against Air Force (10/11), UNLV (10/25) and New Mexico (11/15), and its road game at Boise State (11/29).
AGGIES DOING WELL IN THE CLASSROOM
Along with all of its success on the field, Utah State has also excelled in the classroom as it had 22 football players earn academic all-Mountain West honors in 2013, including five Mountain West Scholar-Athletes, both of which ranked second in the league. Over the past five years, USU has had 106 players earn academic all-league honors and 129 players have graduated from Utah State.
UTAH STATE HAS 13 PLAYERS ON ITS ROSTER WITH BACHELORS DEGREES
Entering the 2014 season, USU has 13 players who have already graduated from USU in senior P Jaron Bentrude, senior QB Craig Harrison, senior WR Shaan Johnson, senior NG Elvis Kamana-Matagi, senior DE B.J. Larsen, junior LB Michael Okonkwo, senior CB Rashard Stewart, senior FS Brian Suite, senior OC Joe Summers, senior SS Frankie Sutera, senior LB Zach Vigil, senior OL Bryce Walker and senior OT Kevin Whimpey. Those 13 graduates on an active roster ranks tied for third at the FBS level with Cincinnati and Minnesota and behind Alabama (15) and Boston College (15).
AGGIES WHO ARE MARRIED
Utah State has nine players on its active roster who are married in sophomore OL Austin Albrecht, sophomore DE Ricky Ali'ifua, senior TE Jefferson Court, junior LB Kyler Fackrell, junior LB LT Filiaga, senior QB Craig Harrison, senior OC Joe Summers, redshirt freshman OL Brandon Taukeiaho and senior OT Kevin Whimpey.
AGGIES WHO HAVE SERVED LDS CHURCH MISSIONS
Utah State has 20 players on its active roster who have served two-year LDS Church Missions: sophomore DE Ricky Ali'ifua, junior LB Jarom Baldomero, sophomore DE Eric Berntson, redshirt freshman QB Jordan Brown, sophomore CB Austin Cheney, senior TE Jefferson Court, freshman LB Dillon Filiaga, freshman OL Jordan Hicks, sophomore TE Landon Horne, redshirt freshman OL Jarom Ioane, senior DE B.J. Larsen, freshman LB Derek Larsen, sophomore CB Jentz Painter, freshman DE Jordan Parkinson, senior OC Joe Summers, sophomore DE Siua Taufa, redshirt freshman OL Brandon Taukeiaho, freshman WR Zach Van Leeuwen, redshirt freshman WR Tyler Weese, senior OT Kevin Whimpey,
FROM WALK-ON TO ALL-LEAGUE
Utah State has had great success with its walk-on program recently and currently has nine former walk-ons who appear on its depth chart including senior P Jaron Bentrude, junior LB Torrey Green, senior QB Craig Harrison, redshirt freshman LB Alex Huerta, senior DE B.J. Larsen, junior DE Jordan Nielsen, senior SS Frankie Sutera, sophomore K Jake Thompson and senior LB Zach Vigil. In fact, Harrison, Larsen, Sutera and Vigil have all started at least one game for Utah State, while Larsen and Vigil were both named second-team all-Mountain West in 2013, while Vigil and Nielsen both earned all-league honors in 2012. Another former walk-on for USU is Jake Doughty who was a two-time first-team all-conference selection and is currently a member of the Green Bay Packers.
A QUICK LOOK AT TENNESSEE
Tennessee returns 10 starters (O-5, D-5, S-0) and 42 lettermen (O-22, D-19, S-1) from last year's team that went 5-7 and finished in sixth-place in the East Division of the Southeastern Conference with a 2-6 mark. Highlighting Tennessee's 10 returning starters is senior LB A.J. Johnson who earned first-team all-SEC honors a year ago as he ranked first on the team with 106 tackles, including 8.5 for loss. UT also returns senior QB Justin Worley who completed 106-of-196 passes in 2013 for 1,239 yards with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Volunteers top returning RB is senior Marlin Lane who rushed for 534 yards on 101 attempts (5.3 ypc) with four touchdowns a year ago, while its top returning receiver is sophomore Marquez North who caught 38 passes for 496 yards (13.1 ypr) with one touchdown in 2013. The Volunteers are coached by Butch Jones who is in his second season at UT and has a 55-34 career record in seven seasons as a collegiate head coach.
AGGIES AND VOLUNTEERS SERIES HISTORY
Utah State and Tennessee will be meeting for the first time ever this weekend.
UTAH STATE - TENNESSEE CONNECTIONS
Utah State sophomore CB Daniel Gray spent the 2012 season playing at Tennessee, as he appeared in eight games, with one start against Troy where he recorded a season-high three tackles. Gray finished the season with six total tackles (5-solo).
AGGIES IN FRONT OF LARGE CROWDS
Utah State's game at Neyland Stadium (102,455) will be the largest venue it has ever played in. The largest crowd USU has ever played in front of was at Tiger Stadium (87,756) in Baton Rouge, La., when it lost to No. 13 LSU, 31-14, on Sept. 8, 2001.
AGGIES PLAYING ON NATURAL GRASS IS RARE
Utah State will open the 2014 season playing on natural grass at Neyland Stadium in Tennessee, and will mark one of just two games during the season that USU plays on natural grass with the other game being at BYU. In 2013, USU played on natural grass just once when it faced USC in Memorial Coliseum.
UTAH STATE AGAINST BCS SCHOOLS
Utah State is 46-176-5 (.214) all-time against BCS schools with 111 of those games against Utah. However, USU has been very competitive in games against BCS schools during the last five years. In 2009, USU lost at Texas A&M, 38-30. In 2010, USU lost at then No. 7 Oklahoma, 31-24. In 2011, USU lost at defending national champion and No. 19 Auburn, 42-38, after leading for the majority of the game. In 2012, USU defeated Utah at home, 27-20 OT, and lost at No. 22 Wisconsin, 16-14. And in 2013, USU lost at Utah, 30-26, and at USC, 17-14.
AGGIES IN AUGUST
Utah State is 3-6 all-time in games played in August, including a 1-4 road record. This will be USU's fourth game played on Aug. 31, as the three previous games were all against Utah.
WELLS AGAINST TENNESSEE AND THE SEC
Utah State's Matt Wells will coach his first game as a head coach against Tennessee this weekend. Wells has, however, had experience coaching against SEC teams as he coached at Kentucky as a Louisville assistant in 2009 and at Arkansas as a Tulsa assistant in 2003.
KEETON RETURNS TO SEC COUNTRY THREE YEARS LATER
Utah State senior QB Chuckie Keeton is returning to SEC country to start his senior season, three years after he began his collegiate career starting as a true freshman at defending national champion and 19th-ranked Auburn on Sept. 3, 2011. Against the Tigers, Keeton completed 21-of-30 passes for 213 yards, while rushing for 33 yards on eight carries with two touchdowns as the Aggies led for the majority of the game only to see Auburn score the final 10 points in the last 2:07 to come-from-behind for a 42-38 win. In that game against Auburn, Keeton was the first true freshman to start game one of a season at quarterback for Utah State in the modern era according to available records.
Aggies who are celebrating birthdays this week including freshman WR Braelon Roberts (Aug. 25), sophomore TE Landon Horne (Aug. 26) and redshirt-freshman RB Karris Johnson (Aug. 30), while senior PK Nick Diaz and freshman QB Kent Myers' birthdays are Sept. 1.
Utah State has 45 players in its program from the state of Utah, while Tennessee has 44 players on its active roster from the Volunteer State.
DID YOU KNOW?
According to available records, Utah State has had just four football players from the state of Tennessee in James Shorty, 1976-78 (Memphis), Jerry Copey, 1977-79 (Chattanooga), Kevin Anderson, 2002 (Ashland City) and Dontel Watkins, 2010-11 (Nashville).
HEAD COACH Matt Wells
Matt Wells wasted little time putting his stamp on the Aggie football program in his first season as head coach, as he 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.
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 as the Aggies finished the 2013 season with a 9-5 record, tying the 1960 and 1961 teams for the second-most wins in school history.
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 Kyler 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 11 players from the 2013 roster were invited to NFL camps, including Alexander (St. Louis Rams) and Lawson (Detroit Lions) who were both selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Overall, Wells is the second USU coach in as many years and fifth 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).
Wells, who is the 12th-youngest head coach at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level and one of just 13 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 during the 2012 campaign. In 2011, Wells coached USU's quarterbacks and was the team's recruiting coordinator.
During his three years at Utah State, Wells has been part of a Utah State program that has played in back-to-back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history, and won consecutive bowl games for the first time ever, while posting a 27-13 record.
As offensive coordinator in 2012, Utah State concluded its most successful season in school history with a school-best 11-2 record. USU also won its first outright conference championship since 1936.
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