Transcript: Utah State Football Press Conference
Utah State head football coach Matt Wells, along with junior punter Aaron Dalton and sophomore defensive end Jacoby Wildman, held a press conference Monday to recap the Aggies’ 27-14 loss to Colorado State and preview their upcoming Mountain West home game against Wyoming.
Oct. 9, 2017

LOGAN, Utah - Utah State head football coach Matt Wells, along with junior punter Aaron Dalton and sophomore defensive end Jacoby Wildman, held a press conference Monday to recap the Aggies’ 27-14 loss to Colorado State and preview their upcoming Mountain West home game against Wyoming. A complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.

Head Coach Matt Wells
On recapping the Colorado State game:
“Congratulations to Colorado State, they are a good team. We had a really good week of practice. We came out and didn’t play well in the first quarter-and-a-half. It’s something we haven’t done in the last couple of weeks. I don’t really have a magic answer for you. It was both sides of the ball. We didn’t play well and they took advantage of it. Then, in the second half, and second half of the second quarter, it was a tough ball game. It was back-and-forth. I thought it was fairly even for the most part, but we weren’t good enough, or we didn’t take advantage of opportunities on offense to make up that many points that quick. We spotted them too much, and against good teams in this league, you can’t do that. That’s what good teams do, they find ways to get ahead if it’s that kind of game, then we just traded punches the rest of the way. That’s kind of how the game went.

“There were a few good things in the game. First of all, when you don’t play that well on offense, your punter has a lot of opportunities. I thought Aaron Dalton played well, and he has all year. He had three punts inside the 20. I thought he hit some punts against the wind that, maybe didn’t flip the field, but they sure could have been a disaster had he not punted it well into the wind. He had some with the wind that had unbelievable hang times, basically negating a really good punt returner. Dax Raymond played well and he has for a while. He’s catching the ball well, he’s blocking well and he’s tough and physical inside. Rob Castaneda went out and played right tackle for the first time all year. Rob played well. Demytrick (Ali’ifua) came in and played full-time at right guard. I thought, really, those guys played good enough for us to win. Defensively, Jacoby Wildman played well. Gaje Ferguson, Suli (Tamaivena), Jalen (Davis) and Dallin (Leavitt), at times, show who they are. Really, it was an onslaught right out of the gate by them, and we couldn’t make it up. We lost.”

On Wyoming:
“The big thing is to learn from it, and we have to get off the mat and show a bunch of resiliency and grit to bounce back and to not lose two in a row. That’s the challenge this week is to play well against a good Wyoming team, a really good Wyoming team. A team that is starting to really build its program. I have a lot of respect for coach (Craig) Bohl. I remember saying this when he first got the job. The coach and the staff they had gotten at Wyoming knew what they were doing. They were going to recruit and build who their personalities were on offense and defense. They’ve certainly done that. They had a good year last year, obviously, and won the division and represented the Mountain Division in the championship game. This is a team that is starting to really build their program and their culture. They’re a bunch of tough, hard-nosed guys on both sides of the ball, and the staff coaches them that way. This program has a lot of respect for Wyoming. It’s been a good rivalry at Utah State throughout the years. I know it’s the fourth most-played rivalry, and Bridger’s Battle for the rifle. That’s a neat deal. It’ll be a good game, and we look forward to it.”

On his initial reactions after the game being critical of the line play:
“I don’t think we played well enough at either O-line or D-line, and I don’t take that back. We didn’t play well enough to win the game in either phase. That wasn’t the only phase, so let’s not blow that out of proportion. We didn’t play well enough at other spots. But when somebody asked me the direct question about that being the one thing, I said I thought we got beat in the trenches on both sides. There were other times we didn’t defend in the back end as well, we didn’t play well at quarterback at times, we had some dropped balls, not many, but a few. There was plenty of blame to spread around. When you don’t win in the trenches on either side, you’re going to have a hard time winning in the Mountain West.”

On if the O-line got more comfortable with each other as the game went on:
“Comfortable to me means you’re playing really well, and I don’t think we played well as a unit on the O-line. I thought he played pretty well for his first start individually, and I think Rob Castaneda for his first time moving to right tackle played really well.”

On how he’d evaluate the offense halfway through the season with the offensive changes:
“What I’d like to see is a little more consistency. I think we’ve either been really close to what we want, in rhythm and playing with a lot of continuity in getting the ball down the field and running it when we want to and being explosive, to the second half of the Wisconsin game, the Wake Forest game and most of the game Saturday not being very explosive. Not having any continuity. If we could go medium to above medium, it would be good in terms of that. I think there are some games we’ve looked really good and done what we want. Certainly, Saturday was not one of them. I’m very happy with coach (David) Yost. The scheme we’re doing fits us. He is a pro. He’s done this long enough that he understands how to implement it and how to coach it. I’m very happy with the coaches and what we’re doing there. We need to be a lot more consistent. They want to be. He’d be the first to tell you that. In terms of what we’re doing, we just need to do it better, but I like what we’re doing.”

On the advantages of the new style of offense:
“You hope to keep the defense off-balance and improve your run game, although we didn’t do that on Saturday. Everyone wants to judge it based on the last game, I get that. The scheme and the difference being the pace of the offense and those kinds of things, for that to be effective you have to get a first down. You have to get moving and get the chains moving. When the chains don’t move four out of the first six drives in the first half, I don’t think it matters what scheme you have going.”

On what makes Wyoming’s Logan Wilson and Andrew Wingard so effective for the Cowboys:
“They make plays and they’re always around the ball. Wingard has played since he was a true freshman, and he has a lot of range. They arrive at the ball with a bad attitude. Those two guys are gritty, they are good players and they fit in their scheme. Either they fit in the scheme, or they scheme around them, one or the other. It’s probably a combination of both. They’re two excellent football players.”

On how he feels the defense played against Nick Stevens and how they’re preparing for Josh Allen:
“Nick won. Nick beat us. Nick played better than our quarterbacks did this week. How will we fare against Josh? We’ll see. Josh is an excellent quarterback. The throw he made to win the Hawai’i game was unbelievable. He made some throws last year in Laramie against us that I don’t think film does it justice when you see it live on the field in front of you. I don’t know if I’d call him a scrambler, but the guy can really move. He moves better than you think. He’s athletic and he throws it really well on the run, but I don’t know if I’d call him a scrambler. You have to stay in coverage with him. He has the arm strength and the confidence to fit balls in small windows. Some of the throws he makes are just remarkable. He’s an excellent quarterback, different than Nick. Nick, I think, is a little more in the pocket and stays in there a little bit. Josh will move around, and they’ll move him around and change his launch points a lot.”

On Wyoming overcoming the loss of Brian Hill and Tanner Gentry from last year:
“That happens with most offenses. You lose those two guys, that’s a lot of their offense out of there. Any offense that has to replace those kinds of guys, it’s going to take time for guys to step in during training camp and the beginning of the season. We’re no different. They’re no different. Those are two excellent players you brought up, but they have talented guys behind them, and they’re still going to do what they do. That’s why I respect them. You see what they do on offense, and they just reload. That’s what they’re doing right now. They’re one of the teams to beat in this division. They’re the defending division champs right now.”   On if Josh Allen looks better this year: “I think he’s really good. We’re at the halfway point and they’ve played five games. Last year, we got them later in the year. I think he’s a better quarterback than I’m sure he was last year. I haven’t studied him completely. It’s only Monday right now. Just the things he does physically, there is no drop-off. The guy is going to be a first-round draft pick. He’s a first-rounder coming in to Logan. The last time we saw one like this, it was Mr. (Derek) Carr in Fresno in the championship game my first year as a head coach. That guy has had a really good NFL career. I think Josh is a very similar quarterback.”

On the Cache Valley players on the team and the impact they have on the team:
“I think that’s pretty neat when you have all those players from Cache Valley. Different high schools. Most of them are from Logan right now, but that changes through the years. You have 11 guys that are Cache Valley players that are playing for not just their home-state, but their home-town team, Utah State. I think almost all those guys I’ve heard say, ‘I dreamed of playing at Utah State,’ or ‘I grew up wanting to play at Utah State.’ For what it’s worth, we probably don’t have very many more on our team that grow up saying that, and that’s okay. That’s a lot of college teams. I think it’s special. I hope the people in the valley see that and know it’s a neat deal. Those guys give back to the community quite a bit in the offseason and the summer. They care about that logo, the Utah State logo, and representing Cache Valley and their families and friends that come out and watch them play. That’s a big deal. It was neat, our special spectator program, we had a kid from Logan High School that was here this past week. To see them interact with him and take pictures with him was a neat deal. That’s what Utah State has going for us that a lot of other schools don’t, is the community involvement. The community is very involved with our campus. It’s a college town. Utah State, Logan and Cache Valley are so intertwined, I just think it’s a neat deal. I hope our fans and our people see that and really embrace all our kids, but especially those Cache Valley kids, because it’s important for them that we win, that they play well and that they represent Cache Valley out here at Utah State. For DJ Nelson, it’s a tremendous honor for him to be the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week. He earned it. He’s very unselfish. He’s a team player, a captain and a leader on this team. He gives everything he has every time he’s out there. I can’t say enough about DJ and what we think about him.”

Junior Punter Aaron Dalton
On the special teams play against Colorado State:
“We had a pretty good special teams outing. Anytime you block a punt or a kick, it is really impressive. DJ (Nelson) was named Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week, which is awesome. Our kickoff coverage has been solid all year and they did really well against Colorado State, who has a good returner. Punt-wise, we were out there probably way too much and there were a couple of hang-10s we wish we could have executed better, but for the most part, we punted the ball well. We covered really well and our coverage has been great all year. (Kicker) Dominik (Eberle) was able to do his thing and stay perfect in extra-point tries. Overall, we had a pretty solid outing.”

On punting the ball in the second half against Colorado State:
“We did a good job in the second half. We have a big chart in the team room that shows the percentages of scoring and how they go down greatly when you’re able to put opposing teams inside the 20- or 10-yard-line. It was a really great effort by the gunners and the coverage team to make them fair catch it and get down and cover the ball. Obviously, that makes a great impact on the game for our defense, giving the other team a long field to work with.”

On how motivated the special teams players were going into the season to get things back on track:
“Last year, overall, our special teams play was not as good as we would have liked to be, especially having a bunch of guys with experience coming back. Just from the start, back in January in the weight room, or spring ball, really focusing on our craft and what we can do to get better and have different results and preparing then so we can be successful now. Everyone really wanted to come out and do their best and do what we know we can do, and it’s paid off. It was good to get Coach (Mark) Tommerdahl, a fresh new face, in there with some new schemes, and it’s been really good.”

On special teams coordinator Mark Tommerdahl:
“He does a couple of really good things. He does a really good job at displaying what he wants us to do and what techniques the guys on the special teams need to use. He also does a great job of motivating players. They respect him and they want to go out and play to the best of their ability and do their best for him. He has been doing this for a really long time. He respects us as players and we, in turn, respect him as a special teams coordinator, and know that he is going to put us in the right positions to be successful. He’s done a good job with that.”

On how much confidence he has gained in himself as the season has progressed:
“It’s always good to hang the punt up there and make it easier for the coverage team. I always talk to (long snapper) Emmett (Odegard), and once you get the first punt out of the way, it’s easy from then on. I think we had a 50-yarder against Wisconsin to start off and once you play at Wisconsin with more than 80,000 people in the stands, it’s all just routine. You’ve got to trust your craft and your technique, and go out and react.”

On what makes the first punt the toughest punt:
“It starts today and I’m spending all week preparing for the game and what I can do to go out there and impact the game, so I’ve got six days on my conscience of preparing for that first punt and once that first punt gets out of the way, it’s all downhill from there.”

On how he prepares for each game as a punter, and what is he looking for on film as he prepares:
“We watch film and we watch the blocking scheme and whether they are going to pressure or if they have a show-time returner and need to put the ball out of bounds. Mainly, I try to focus on myself and my technique and what I can do to fix the mistakes that I had. So, it’s not a whole lot on what the other team is doing, but more on focusing on my craft, whether it’s my drop, my steps, my swing or the different types of punts that we do. I just focus on what I can do in order to be more consistent.”

On if it’s normal to change personnel from week-to-week, or does the personnel stay pretty consistent: “On special teams, it’s really a next-man-up mentality because we’re halfway through the season and people can go down with injuries, or maybe someone needs to be subbed out because they are taking a lot of snaps on offense and defense. It’s probably pretty normal for new guys to have to step up and step in, and take on a new role and be ready to go.”

On if he feels like he is punting his best right now:
“I’ve had a good season, but there is obviously plenty of room to improve. I don’t think I have graded out at 100 percent yet, so we definitely can get better. I like to focus on that net average because that is the team goal. It’s the punt coverage and it’s my gunners making plays, but there is room for improvement. We’ve done a good job consistently all year long in trying to flip the field and give the defense a long field to work with.”

On if he is surprised that Utah State is leading the nation with four blocked punts:
“That’s crazy. I don’t think I have ever seen anything like that. It’s just a testament to coach Tommerdahl and his schemes, and guys trying to go out there and make plays and get something done, so it is definitely impressive.”

On the team goal for net punting average:
“Our team goal every week is to try and get 38 yards net average so we can flip the field. We just want to make an impact on the game and flip the field.”

On not punting much the last time Wyoming came to town:
“That’s right, and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter or something. It was a cold game, too. I was sitting there waiting to go. It’s a great thing when I never go out there, but when I do, I’ll be ready.”

Sophomore Defensive End Jacoby Wildman
On the defense against Colorado State:
“First of all, I want to give credit to Colorado State. That was a good team we played. They had some good athletes and some good skill players. Contrary to that, when we do the things that we’ve been taught to do as a defense, and we execute the way we’re supposed to, we’re hard to stop. The plays that they did explode, it was players on our team that didn’t execute our game plan and that’s why we got gashed. But, when we do what we’re supposed to, we’re a hard team to stop and our defense is really good.”

On Wyoming:
“They have got a great quarterback, Josh Allen, who I think will be a first-round pick in the NFL draft. This week, we’re going to have to get in his face and disrupt his pass game if we want to see the outcome that we desire. Blocking-wise, they run a lot of stretch and a lot of power, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen and nothing we can’t stop.”

On how much better of a chance he thinks the Aggies have at getting to Josh Allen this week compared to last week against Colorado State’s Nick Stevens:
“In watching film, we have noticed that they do have lots of play-action pass, so it’s going to be up to us on the defensive line to notice when that pass is coming. It’s kind of hard to tell, but you can tell, and we’re going to have to get to him and disrupt his pass game, because he can put it where he wants. We’re going to have to get in his face and disrupt that.”

On Josh Allen not having as many rushing yards this season compared to 2016:
“They had a pretty good running back last year in Brian Hill and I feel like lots of people keyed on him, so they’d bite on his runs and Josh was able to pull on those zone-reads and get the defensive ends or outside linebackers to bite.”

On defending against Josh Allen:
“We’re going to treat him just like how he’s portrayed. He is a good athlete and a great quarterback. We’re just going to have to do what we do and if we do that, we’re going to win the game.”

On stories about the Aggie tradition from the Wildman family:
“My uncle, Dennis, played here in 1986, I think. He has told me lots of stories and I have lots of family that went here, so the Aggie blood is thick in me.”

On how much he believes about what Dennis told him:
“That’s a really good question. He tells me lots of things, and I believe him. He was a good player and I’ve seen some of his plays. He’s a good guy, good player and good uncle.”

On how much the defense can build on the success it had after the first quarter against Colorado State:
“We came out very flat and allowed some big plays to happen, which is on us as leaders and captains. If we play like we did in the second half and execute, this defense is built to shut down the run and get pressure on the quarterback. We can do that if we execute.”

On not getting to Colorado State quarterback Nick Stevens very much:
“They were running lots of play-action pass. Sometimes it’s hard to read that, but we’ve got to get better at that and transitioning to the pass rush. We have been working on that a lot the last couple of weeks, and it’s something we need to continue to work on and if we want to get the win this week, we’re going to have to disrupt him in that aspect of the game.”

On the 11 Cache Valley natives making an impact on the program:
“I was actually talking to my dad about this yesterday. I grew up with all these guys and I played on teams with Derek Larsen and DJ Nelson all through high school. I love them to death and they all have a competitive will and desire that I don’t see much in a lot of other people. I don’t know if that is just be being biased, but I love them to death and they are great players. We pride ourselves in work ethic and we give it our all.”

On what the win over BYU meant to the Cache Valley natives:
“I grew up watching the Utah State-BYU rivalry games and it’s something big. Like coach (Matt) Wells said, ‘It’s something that will never be taken away from us as a football program, and it gave us a lot of stamina and mojo to build off of. We still have that and we’re going to keep bringing it every week.”

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