LOGAN, Utah -
IDAHO STATE (0-1) vs. UTAH STATE (0-1)
SATURDAY, SEPT. 6, 2014 6:06 P.M. (MT) LOGAN, UTAH ROMNEY STADIUM (25,513)
GAME TWO INFORMATION
Series History: USU leads 14-2
TV: MOUNTAIN WEST NETWORK
Play-by-Play: Brian Estridge
Analyst: Ted Sundquist
RADIO: AGGIE SPORTS NETWORK
Play-by-Play: Al Lewis
Analyst: Craig Hislop
Official Account: @USUFootball
AGGIES FACE IDAHO STATE IN HOME OPENER
Utah State will begin the home portion of its 2014 schedule against Idaho State on Saturday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. USU has won each of its last five home openers and is 77-38-2 all-time in its first home game of the season, including a 26-20 record at Romney Stadium. Overall, USU has won 12 of its last 14 home games dating back to 2011, and nine of its last 11 non-conference home games dating back to 2009.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR SATURDAY
Utah State has won 25 of its last 34 games and those nine losses have been by a combined 79 points (8.8 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), at No. 24 Fresno State (24-17) in 2013, and at Tennessee (38-7) to start the 2014 season. Those 25 wins are also the third-most in the West behind Oregon (29) and Stanford (27).
Utah State has won each of its last seven games against Football Championship Series (FCS) schools dating back to the 2000 season when it lost at home to Idaho State, 27-24.
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 had eight first time starters and 18 players make their Division I debut in its season opener at Tennessee last weekend.
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 has won six of its last eight games played during the month of September and is 1-4 all-time in games played on Sept. 6.
Utah State has 45 players in its program from the state of Utah, while Idaho State has 32 players on its active roster from the Gem State.
MEDIA RELATIONS CONTACTS
Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations and football contact Doug Hoffman (435-797-3714 office, 435-881-8011 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org) handles all media requests for the Utah State football program.
WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE
Utah State head coach Matt Wells will hold his weekly press conference every Monday during the regular season at 11:30 a.m. MT. Selected players will also be available. Live streaming of the press conference will be made available at UtahStateAggies.com. Broadcast-quality video is available per request.
Practices are closed to the media. Requested coaches and players will be available for post-practice interviews on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There is no media availability following Monday, Thursday and Friday practices.
All player and assistant coaching staff interview requests should be directed to Doug Hoffman. Requests for post-practice interviews should be made at least 24 hours in advance. Personal phone numbers will not be made available to media. Players have been instructed not to conduct interviews when contacted without prior approval from the media relations staff.
POST-GAME INTERVIEW POLICY
The Utah State locker room is closed at all times. A media relations staffer will collect all player requests in the press box midway through the fourth quarter. Requested players will be available in the Spetman Auditorium on the 2nd floor of the Jim & Carol Laub Athletics-Academics Complex immediately following head coach Matt Wells' post-game press conference. Live streaming of each post-game press conference will be made available at UtahStateAggies.com. Post-game interviews on the road will be held in accordance with the host school's procedures.
CREDENTIALS AND PARKING
Working credentials for the 2014 Utah State football season must be sent to Doug Hoffman. Media parking is located in the Blue and Silver lots on the West side (pressbox side) of Romney Stadium.
PRESS BOX AND GAMEDAY SERVICES
Packets with pregame information will be distributed in advance of kickoff on the day of the game. Play-by-play, quarter, halftime and final statistics along with coach and player quotes are all regular services on game day. Stat monitors with live, updated statistics are provided for radio and television, while print media can access the same information with their computers utilizing GameTracker.
For updated statistics, rosters, game notes and all Aggie news on the internet, go to the official Utah State Athletics website at UtahStateAggies.com. For those out of range of the Aggie Sports Network's radio broadcast, live audio of every game is available through UtahStateAggies.com's All-Access.
Follow all of the Aggie coaches and the program on twitter: Matt Wells @CoachWellsUSUFB; Mark Weber @CoachWeberUSUFB; Todd Orlando @CoachTOrlando; Kevin McGiven @coachmcgiven; Dave Ungerer @coachungerer; Luke Wells @coachlukewells; Jovon Bouknight @CoachBouknight; Joe Lorig @CoachJoeLorig; Ikaika Malloe @MalloeMalloe; Kendrick Shaver @CoachkSHAVER; and @USUFootball.
UTAH STATE HOSTS IDAHO STATE IN HOME OPENER
Utah State (0-1, 0-0 MW) will host Idaho State (0-1, 0-0 Big Sky) in its home opener on Saturday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. (MT). The game will be streamed live on the Mountain West Network/Campus Insiders (www.themw.com) with Brian Estridge (play-by-play) and Ted Sundquist (analyst) on the call. Live audio of the game is also available on www.UtahStateAggies.com.
UTAH STATE ATHLETICS TO INDUCT 12TH HALL OF FAME CLASS
Utah State Athletics will induct its 12th Hall of Fame Class this weekend, which includes Cordel Andersen, one of just two wrestlers in school history to be a two-time All-American; Yolanda Arvizu, one of just seven Aggie softball All-Americans; Anthony Calvillo, the most prolific passing quarterback in professional football history; Craig Carter, a two-time All-American weight thrower; Troy Collier, one of the best Aggie basketball players ever; and Dale Mildenberger, one of the longest-employed athletic department members in school history.
UTAH STATE PLAYING 13 REGULAR SEASON GAMES IN 2014
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 LOOK AT UTAH STATE
Utah State is 0-1 on the season following its 38-7 season-opening loss at Tennessee. Offensively, USU is led by senior QB Chuckie Keeton who is 18-of-35 passing for 144 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Junior WR JoJo Natson leads the team in rushing with 47 yards on just two carries, while junior WR Brandon Swindall has five catches for 37 yards. Defensively, sophomore LB Nick Vigil leads the team with 15 tackles to go along with 1.0 sack and 2.0 tackles for loss, while senior LB Zach Vigil has 10 tackles and sophomore S Devin Centers has nine tackles. As a team, Utah State is averaging 7.0 points and 244.0 yards of total offense (144.0-passing, 100.0-rushing) and allowing 38.0 points and 383.0 yards of total offense (273.0-passing, 110.0-rushing) per game.
FIRST TIME STARTERS
Utah State had eight players make their first career start against Tennessee in sophomore S Devin Centers, senior TE Jefferson Court, freshman CB Jalen Davis, junior OG Taani Fisilau, junior CB Bryant Hayes, sophomore OT Jake Simonich, sophomore OC Austin Stephens and senior OG Bill Vavau.
Jalen Davis STARTS GAME ONE AS A TRUE FRESHMAN
True freshman CB Jalen Davis started his first collegiate game at Tennessee, marking the first time Utah State has started a true freshman in a season opener since Chuckie Keeton did so at Auburn in 2011. According to available records, Davis is the first true freshman in school history to start the season opener at cornerback.
EIGHTEEN AGGIES GET FIRST DIVISION I EXPERIENCE AT TENNESSEE
Utah State had 18 players play in their first-ever Division I game against Tennessee in freshman CB Jalen Davis, redshirt junior S Marwin Evans, junior CB Tyler Floyd, redshirt junior RB Rashad Hall, junior CB Bryant Hayes, junior CB Deshane Hines, freshman RB LaJuan Hunt, redshirt freshman OL Tyshon Mosley, sophomore CB Jentz Painter, freshman WR Damoun Patterson, junior WR Hunter Sharp, redshirt sophomore OC Austin Stephens, sophomore DE Siua Taufa, junior DE John Taylor, freshman LB Ian Togia, redshirt fresman WR Hayden Weichers, redshirt freshman WR Tyler Weese and junior LB Anthony Williams.
AGGIES' TURNOVER STREAK COMES TO AN END AT TENNESSEE
Utah State entered its game at Tennessee having forced at least one turnover in each of its last 23 games dating back to the 2012 season, a stat that ranked fourth in the country, before not forcing a turnover against the Volunteers in its season opener.
AGGIE DEFENSE HOLDS ITS OWN AGAINST TENNESSEE RUSHING ATTACK
Utah State entered its 2014 season opener at Tennessee having not allowed its last four opponents dating back to the 2013 season to rush for 100 yards. The Volunteers did finish the game with 110 rushing yards, but it was on 39 attempts, which is an average of just 2.8 yards per rush. UT also scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in the game, marking just the second time in USU's last 16 games that it has allowed more than one rushing touchdown, as Boise State also had two touchdowns on the ground last season against the Aggies.
UTAH STATE NEEDS TO RUN THE BALL TO HAVE SUCCESS
Traditionally, Utah State has had a lot of success when it has been able to run the ball. During the 2013 season, USU was 9-1 when it carried the ball at least 40 times, but 0-4 when it had less than 40 rushing attempts in a game. Furthermore, USU has won 15-straight games when it has a 100-yard rusher, with its last loss coming against Ohio (24-23) in the 2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Against Tennessee, USU's leading rusher was junior WR JoJo Natson who had 47 yards on two carries, while the Aggies had just 24 rushing attempts as a team.
Nick Vigil HAS CAREER GAME AT TENNESSEE
Sophomore LB Nick Vigil recorded a career-high 15 tackles in Utah State's season opener at Tennessee, bettering his previous high of eight tackles against BYU last season. Vigil also added 1.0 sack and 2.0 tackles for loss against the Volunteers, giving him 6.5 career sacks and 10.5 career tackles for loss.
Devin Centers HAS CAREER GAME AT TENNESSEE
Sophomore S Devin Centers recorded a career-high nine tackles in his first career start against Tennessee last weekend. His previous career-high was just one tackle in three separate games.
Travis Seefeldt HAS CAREER GAME AT TENNESSEE
Junior NG Travis Seefeldt tied his career-high with three tackles and also tied his career-high with 1.0 sack in Utah State's season opener at Tennessee. Overall, he now has 3.0 career sacks and 4.5 career tackles for loss.
TEAM NOTABLES FROM THE TENNESSEE GAME
Utah State's seven points was its fewest since losing at BYU, 6-3, on Oct. 5, 2012, a span of 23 games. Furthermore, USU's 244 yards of total offense was its fewest since it had just 191 total yards in a 13-0 win against Colorado State on Nov. 13, 2013. And finally, its 144 passing yards at Tennessee are its fewest since it through for just 121 yards in its 21-14 win against No. 24 Northern Illinois in the 2013 Poinsettia Bowl.
Utah State allowed a first quarter touchdown for just the seventh time in its last 31 games and two first quarter touchdowns for the first time since its 2013 season opener at Utah.
Utah State is now 1-6 in its last 30 games when trailing at the end of the first quarter and 2-6 in its last 30 games when trailing at the end of the first-half.
Utah State did not score in the first half for the first time since Sept. 25, 2010 at San Diego State. Furthermore, USU's 17-point halftime deficit is its largest since trailing at Hawai'i 28-7 on Nov. 5, 2011.
The 38 points allowed by Utah State are its most since No. 19 Louisiana Tech scored 41 points on Nov. 17, 2012 in a 48-41 USU overtime win. Furthermore, the 31 points loss for Utah State is its worst since losing at No. 9 Boise State, 50-14, on Dec. 4, 2010.
Utah State's three turnovers are its most since committing three turnovers in back-to-back games against BYU and Boise State last season.
Utah State is now 1-17 all-time against SEC schools.
Utah State is now 11-6 during its last 17 road games.
PLAYER NOTABLES FROM THE TENNESSEE GAME
Sophomore PK Jake Thompson missed his first field goal attempt of the season from 48 yards and is now 1-of-4 on field goals attempts for his career, with the previous three all being from at least 50 yards... Junior LB Torrey Green had a career-high four tackles... Junior WR Brandon Swindall tied his career-high with five receptions... Junior WR JoJo Natson had a career-long rush of 38 yards... Junior WR Hunter Sharp caught his first-career touchdown pass from 37 yards... Sophomore TE Wyatt Houston tied his career-high with two receptions.
UTAH STATE IN THE MOUNTAIN WEST AND NCAA RANKINGS
Following the first weekend of the 2014 season, Utah State ranks third in the Mountain West and 36th in the nation at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level in sacks allowed with 1.0. USU also ranks eighth in the MW in passing offense (144.0 ypg). Defensively, USU ranks second in the MW and 45th in the nation with 2.0 sacks and fourth in the MW and 46th nationally in rushing defense (110.0 ypg). On special teams, USU ranks fourth in the MW and 56th nationally in punt returns (6.0 ypr) and eighth in the MW and 59th nationally in net punting (37.8 ypr).
AGGIES IN THE MOUNTAIN WEST AND NCAA RANKINGS
Sophomore LB Nick Vigil ranks second in the Mountain West and 10th in the nation at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level with his 15.0 tackles. He also ranks second in the MW and 34th in the nation in sacks (1.0 pg) and fifth in the MW and 29th in the nation in tackles for loss (2.0 pg). Junior NG Travis Seefeldt ranks second in the MW and 34th in the nation in sacks (1.0 pg), while senior LB Zach Vigil ranks sixth in the MW and 63rd in the nation in tackles (10.0 pg). Sophomore S Devin Centers ranks ninth in the MW and 91st nationally in tackles (9.0), sophomore CB Daniel Gray ranks 31st in the MW in tackles (6.0 pg) and senior FS Brian Suite ranks tied for eighth in the MW in passes defended (1.0 pg). Sophomore RB Kennedy Williams ranks fifth in the MW and 49th nationally in kickoff return average (20.2 ypr) and senior P Jaron Bentrude ranks sixth in the MW and 57th in the nation in punting (37.8 ypp).
UTAH STATE CONTINUES TO DO A GOOD JOB DEFENDING THE RETURN GAME
After ranking first in the Mountain West and second in the nation in punt return defense (1.30 ypr) and first in the MW and fifth in the nation in kickoff return defense (17.58 ypr) a year ago, Utah State has continued its solid play in special teams to start the 2014 season as it ranks second in the MW and 11th in the nation in punt return defense (0.00 ypr) and fourth in the MW and 43rd in the nation in kickoff return defense (17.50 ypr) following its first game of the season.
UTAH STATE A DISCIPLINED TEAM THUS FAR
Following its first game of the season, Utah State was called for just five penalties for just 44 yards, and ranks fifth in the Mountain West and 38th in the nation at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level in fewest penalties per game and seventh in the MW and 49th in the nation in fewest penalty yards per game.
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.
First all-time with a career completion percentage of 65.9 percent (535-812).
First all-time with an interception percentage of 0.018 as he has thrown just 15 interceptions in 812 pass attempts.
Second all-time with 57 career touchdown passes. Jose Fuentes (1999-2002) holds the school record at 60.
Second all-time with 535 career completions. Fuentes holds the school record with 704.
Third all-time with 7,270 yards of total offense (6,105-passing, 1,165-rushing). Fuentes holds the school record with 8,791 yards, while Borel is second with 8,096 yards.
Tied for fourth all-time with 6,105 passing yards along with Brent Snyder (1987-88). Fuentes holds the school record with 9,168 yards.
Seventh all-time with 812 career pass attempts. Fuentes holds the school record with 1,270.
22nd all-time with 1,165 career rushing yards (260 carries, 4.5 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 29 career games, senior Chuckie Keeton ranks among the top 12 FBS quarterbacks in the following 12 categories:
5th among QBs with 6,000 Passing Yards & 1,000 Rushing Yards - 6,105 passing /1,165 rushing
5th in Completion Percentage - 65.9%
7th in TD Passes - 57
7th in Passing Efficiency - 148.51
8th in Total TDs Responsible For - 71
8th in Rushing Yards by a QB - 1,165
10th in Total Offense - 7,270 yards (6,105 passing + 1,165 rushing)
10th in Pass Completions - 535
10th in Completions Per Game - 18.45
11th in Pass Attempts - 812
12th in Passing Yards - 6,105
12th in Passing Yards Per Game - 210.5
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 92. Brad Bohn (1997-2000) holds the school record with 107.
Third all-time in extra point attempts with 93. 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.
10th all-time in scoring with 173 points. 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 11.2 yards as he has returned 32 punts for 357 yards during his career. 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 25th all-time in school history with 243 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 12 in his career.
ZACH AND Nick Vigil RANK SECOND AMONG ACTIVE BROTHERS IN TACKLES
Senior LB Zach Vigil has recorded 243 tackles during his career and sophomore LB Nick Vigil has recorded 72 career tackles. Overall, the two brothers have combined for 315 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 317 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 23-12 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 17-11 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. 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 seven 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 10 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, freshman WR Zach Van Leeuwen 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 IDAHO STATE
Idaho State is 0-1 on the season following its 56-14 season-opening loss at Utah last Thursday. The Bengals were led by junior RB Xavier Finney who rushed for 133 yards on 23 carries, while senior RB Daniel McSurdy had 60 rushing yards on 11 carries. Senior QB Justin Arias was 21-of-40 passing for 158 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, while sophomore WR KW Williams caught four passes for 43 yards with one touchdown. Defensively, redshirt freshman LB Mario Jenkins had a team-high eight tackles, senior LB Mitch Beckstead had seven tackles and a fumble recovery and junior SS Taison Manu also had seven tackles to go along with a forced fumble. As a team, ISU had 337 yards of total offense against the Utes (179-rushing, 158-passing) and gave up 589 yards of total offense (351-passing, 238-rushing). Idaho State returns 18 starters (O-9, D-8, S-1) and 45 lettermen (O-22, D-22, S-1) from last year's team that went 3-9 and finished tied for 11th place in the Big Sky Conference with a 1-7 mark. The Bengals are coached by Mike Kramer who is 6-29 in his fourth season at ISU and has an 83-104 career record in 17 seasons as a collegiate head coach.
AGGIES AND BENGALS SERIES HISTORY
Utah State and Idaho State will be meeting for the 17th time in series history this weekend, with USU holding a 14-2 all-time advantage. Overall, Utah State has won each of the last three games in the series and Idaho State's last win against the Aggies was on Nov. 18, 2000 in Logan by a final score of 27-24. All-time, USU is 11-1 at home against the Bengals as ISU's only other win in the series was on Nov. 14, 1981 in Pocatello, 50-24.
TOP AGGIE PERFORMERS AGAINST IDAHO STATE
Rushing Yards: Emmett White (2001), 151 on 25 carries
Passing Yards: Jose Fuentes (2002), 330 - 26-of-41
Receiving Yards: Nakia Jenkins (1997), 153 on 9 receptions
UTAH STATE - IDAHO STATE CONNECTIONS
Idaho State co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Spencer Toone spent the 2012 season at Utah State as a defensive graduate assistant working with the linebackers. USU also has two players on its roster from the state of Idaho in freshman LB Dillon Filiaga (Pocatello/Highland HS) and freshman S Colby Schow (Boise/Timberline HS).
UTAH STATE AGAINST THE BIG SKY CONFERENCE
Utah State is 77-17-6 (.800) all-time against current members of the Big Sky Conference with a 25-7 record against Montana, a 22-6-6 record against Montana State, a 14-2 record against Idaho State, a 13-1 record against Weber State, a 3-0 record against Southern Utah and an 0-1 record against Eastern Washington. The last time USU faced a Big Sky school was on Sept. 14, 2013 when it defeated Weber State at home, 70-6. One of USU's 17 losses against Big Sky schools was against a Mike Kramer coached team as the current Idaho State coach was the head coach at Eastern Washington in 1994 when the Eagles recorded a 49-31 road win against USU.
WELLS AGAINST THE BIG SKY CONFERENCE
Utah State head coach Matt Wells is 1-0 all-time against the Big Sky Conference as a head coach following USU's 70-6 home win against Weber State last season. Wells also posted a 3-0 record as an assistant coach when facing current members of the Big Sky Conference, including a 2-0 mark as an assistant at Utah State as USU defeated Weber State (54-17) in 2011 and Southern Utah (34-3) in 2012. Wells was also 1-0 as an assistant against Big Sky teams while at New Mexico as the Lobos defeated Sacramento State in 2007.
Aggies who are celebrating birthdays this week include senior PK Nick Diaz (Sept. 1), freshman QB Kent Myers (Sept. 1), freshman LB Derek Larsen (Sept. 4) and sophomore PK Jake Thompson (Sept. 7).
FROM THE AGGIE RECORD BOOKS
Utah State defeated Idaho State, 136-0, during the 1919 season, which is USU's largest-ever margin of victory. In 1997, USU limited ISU to just 111 yards of total offense, which ranks 10th all-time at USU and just 16 passing yards which ranks sixth all-time in school history. In 1982, USU limited ISU to just 10 rushing yards, which ranks 16th all-time in school history.
DID YOU KNOW?
Utah State's 2014 schedule marks the fifth-straight season, the sixth time in the last seven years, and the seventh time in the last 18 years that it will play six home games. Overall, the Aggies have had six home games on the slate a total of only just 11 times: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2008, 1998, 1996, 1995, 1978, 1952.
LAST MEETING AGAINST IDAHO STATE - (USU 38, ISU 17)
September 11, 2010 Logan, Utah Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium
Behind senior QB Diondre Borel's passing and the running back attack, Utah State beat Idaho State, 38-17, on Sept. 11, 2010 inside Romney Stadium. Borel ended the night 21-of-26 passing for 255 yards. After Idaho State kicked a field goal on its opening possession, Utah State reeled off 38 unanswered points in building a 38-3 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Bengals added a pair of touchdowns in the last three minutes to close the gap. USU was led by senior RB Michael Smith's 86 yards on 12 carries, while fellow senior RB Derrvin Speight also had 12 rushes, finishing with 75 yards. Junior WR Eric Moats had a team-high 65 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown catch, while sophomore WR Dontel Watkins had a game-best six catches for 48 yards. Defensively, junior LB Bobby Wagner had a team-high 10 tackles, while junior S Walter McClenton added eight stops. Idaho State's Russel Hill came off the bench to throw for 162 yards on 13-of-22 passing, including 89 yards to Isaiah Burel, with one touchdown. A.J. Storms tallied a game-high 20 tackles and Chris Holmesly added 12 stops for the Bengals. Following ISU's opening field goal. USU got on the board late in the first quarter on a 27-yard run by sophomore RB Kerwynn Williams. Those were the first seven of the Aggies' 38-straight points, as Borel later dashed in from three yards out. Senior Peter Caldwell capped a 15-play, 83-yard Aggie drive that covered 2:33 on the clock by booting a 23-yard field goal with five seconds left, sending USU into halftime with a 17-3 lead. Williams returned the second-half kickoff 70 yards to the ISU 25, and the USU drive moved up half the distance to the goalline after a personal foul penalty on the Bengals. Three plays later, Speight scampered in with a 4-yard touchdown. On USU's next possession, Smith started the drive with a 38-yard scamper. Borel hit Moats on a 36-yard pass play, setting up the Aggies at the ISU 2. After a USU penalty and tackle for loss, Borel again connected with Moats for a 15-yard touchdown, putting USU up 31-3 with 6:59 left in the third quarter. The scoreboard read 38-3 after the Aggies' next possession as sophomore RB Joey DeMartino scored on a 17-yard touchdown with 11:48 to play. ISU scored on a 5-yard pass from Hill to Burel with 2:57 left and the Aggies' fumbled on the next drive, which the Bengals recovered and scored another touchdown for the final points of the game.
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.
RECAPPING THE TENNESSEE GAME
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Utah State fell behind Tennessee, 14-0, in the first five minutes of the game and never recovered as the Volunteers rolled to a 38-7 win in the first-ever meeting between the two teams here Sunday night at historic Neyland Stadium.
In his first action since a knee injury forced him to miss the final eight games of the 2013 season, senior QB Chuckie Keeton completed 18-of-35 passes for 144 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, while adding 12 yards on the ground on eight carries. Junior WR JoJo Natson was USU's leading rusher as he had 47 yards on two carries, while adding three receptions for 18 yards. Fellow junior WR Brandon Swindall had a team-best five catches for 37 yards.
Utah State's only points in the game came early in the fourth quarter as Natson rushed for 38 yards and Keeton hit junior WR Hunter Sharp from 37 yards for the score to cap a 2-play, 75-yard drive that took all of 30 seconds.
Sophomore LB Nick Vigil recorded a career-high 15 tackles, which included 1.0 sack and 2.0 tackles for loss to lead the Aggie defense. Senior LB Zach Vigil added 10 stops for his 12th career double-digit tackle outing and sophomore S Devin Centers posted a career-best nine tackles.
Utah State's defense took the field first and forced Tennessee into a three-and-out to start the game. However, USU followed with a three-and-out of its own on its first possession. UT then drove 70-yards in just six plays on its following possession for the first score of the game and then scored two plays later as the Aggies fumbled the ensuing kickoff at its own 12-yard line. Following the turnover, UT's Justin Worley connected with Brendan Downs for the 12-yard touchdown to make the score 14-0 early on.
Utah State's defense keep the Aggies in the game throughout the first-half as it held the Volunteers without any points during its next five drives before UT kicked a 36-yard field with 1:00 to play in the half for a 17-0 halftime advantage.
Utah State had its best drive of the game on its first possession of the second-half as it went 34 yards in nine plays, but was unable to get any points as sophomore PK Jake Thompson just missed a 48-yard field goal.
Tennessee added another touchdown in the third quarter and then reached pay dirt again on the first play of the fourth quarter to push its lead to 31-0 before Utah State answered with its only touchdown of the game. UT finished the scoring with a final touchdown two series later to make the final score 38-7.
Utah State finished the game with 244 yards of total offense (144-passing, 100-rushing) as compared to 383 yards of total offense for Tennessee (273-passing, 110-rushing). In all, USU was just 3-of-14 on third downs, while UT was 8-of-18. USU was also 0-of-1 on fourth down.
Utah State also had three turnovers in the game that led to 17 Tennessee points, while the Volunteers did not turnover the ball over once. UT also controlled the clock as it had a 34:35 to 25:25 advantage.
Tennessee was led by senior QB Justin Worley who was 27-of-38 passing for 273 yards with three touchdowns, while sophomore linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin had 10 tackles and senior LB A.J. Johnson had nine tackles to go along with an interception and a forced fumble.
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