LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State head football coach Matt Wells held a media teleconference Sunday night to discuss the Aggies’ invitation to the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl against New Mexico State on Friday, Dec. 29, at 3:30 p.m. in Tucson, Ariz. A complete transcript of the teleconference can be found below.
Head Coach Matt Wells
“I’m extremely excited for our student-athletes to play in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl against a quality opponent in New Mexico State. We are very thankful to everybody that made this happen and we are fired up to represent Utah State and the Mountain West in this game against a really good New Mexico State team. We have seen them on film a little bit this year. They do some dynamic stuff on offense and have some great skill guys. I think there will be a lot of people from both teams down there, which should create a tremendous atmosphere for a great bowl game for both schools.”
On the fact Utah State and New Mexico State played in the 1960 Sun Bowl, which was the last time NMSU had appeared in a bowl game:
“I do recognize the history of that game and I actually just looked it up in the media guide a few minutes ago, where New Mexico State won by a touchdown. When I think of New Mexico State, I think of the history with Utah State. When I was a player at Utah State, we played them every year, and then we played them my first two years back as an assistant in 2011 and 2012. So, we certainly have a lot of history playing them and there have been some competitive games. The 1960 game will embark some of that for many media members, as well as old-time Utah State Aggies and old-time New Mexico State Aggies. But quite frankly, it has nothing to do with any player on either side, so I don’t think that will have a whole lot to do with the players.”
On if he had prepared at all about the possibility of not going to a bowl game this year:
“When the day started, I didn’t prepare for that possibility because I was fairly optimistic that we would make it in, but as the morning went along and I was sitting in my office with my strength coach and director of football operations, it became apparent that there were a lot of things going on behind the scenes. So, we’re very thankful to ESPN, (commissioner) Craig Thompson and his staff at the Mountain West and everybody associated with the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl in inviting the Utah State Aggies. We are more than excited to represent the Mountain West, as well as Utah State University.”
On knowing who his team is:
“This team has a really good vibe. We have a lot of very good, young first-year starters and then we have got a few seniors who are playing really good football and have provided good leadership. That is who we are. We only started four seniors against Air Force. We have the fourth-highest amount of first-year starters in Division I this year and that is who we are. This team is talented, but we are still learning how to win and learning how to win a close game. We need to continue to learn that, but I know who this team is. This team has a great vibe and a great demeanor about itself. They love playing football and they are very competitive. We are very young and youthful in a lot of spots.”
On how exciting it is to get a semi-regional matchup between two schools were fan bases from both can attend:
“Like I said in my earlier statement, it will be a great atmosphere because it is regional and both schools can get there fairly easy. I know there is a lot of excitement on both sides to be back in a bowl game, so you are going to see a very competitive game and it should be a great atmosphere.”
On New Mexico State beating New Mexico in Albuquerque earlier this season:
“That’s a great rivalry, the Lobos and the Aggies. I was a part of it on the one side for three years, so I understand that rivalry, and it was a great win for them. I remember New Mexico State as being an up-tempo, dynamic offense that has some really good skill players on both sides of the ball.”
On juggling the busy month of December:
“Very carefully. You’re juggling everything from recruiting, to practice, to recruiting weekends, to the mid-year signing day, to our development practices and even finals. We’ve got finals in there, too, so we have to do well on those tests. I just met with the coordinators, our strength coach and our director of football operations and we’re just starting to piece this next 3 1/2 weeks together. You get a little bit of extra practice time, which is going to be about like a mini spring ball. We want to be extremely fresh, well-rested and very healthy going into the game, and have the right amount of practice time leading up to it. We’ve taken a few of the blue prints of what we’ve done in past bowls and put them together for a plan that is going to be really beneficial to our players. But, we do need to be on the road recruiting, so we’ll be juggling that as coaches back and forth. It’s the busiest time of year, basically the next 26 days for us as coaches. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, though, because last December was miserable only doing one thing.”
On the drama as far as who was going to end up going to the Arizona Bowl:
“It was about two hours of drama playing out on Twitter, phone calls and text messages. In the end, we are very excited to be invited to play in the game. It was quite stressful, to be honest with you. At one point, my gut really hurt for our players, the thought of me even calling a team meeting tonight telling them we are done. It was hard to fathom, but when you get the call that you are selected, it’s an extreme amount of joy and relief, but also excitement for our players to go play another game because they deserve it. I’m happy for them and for this opportunity.”
On what it says about Utah State’s program going to its sixth bowl game in the last seven years:
“It says a lot about our program. Being in six bowl games in the last seven years, it’s where the expectation is right now. When you consider that, it’s the best stretch of Aggie football in a long time. I’m proud to be a small part of it. We haven’t reached the top of the mountain yet, but we are trending upward, especially with how many guys we have coming back next year. I am extremely happy to be back where I think this program should be, and strives to be, which is in postseason play in a bowl game. We haven’t won the Mountain West championship yet, but that is what we are going to continue to strive for. This is putting us in the right direction and will give us a good vibe going into the offseason, and in recruiting. We are already seeing some of that momentum pick up with recruiting in these last few days, and I think we will in this next week to come, so that’s really exciting, the players that we are going to be bringing into this program to add to these youthful players on this team right now.”
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