Matt Wells Tabbed USU's New Offensive Coordinator
Thursday, Jan. 05, 2012
Utah State [University] football head coach Gary Andersen named Matt Wells as USU’s new offensive coordinator on Thursday [January 5, 2012].
“I’m very excited and humbled for this opportunity that Coach Andersen has given me to lead the Utah State offense,” Wells said. “We will continue to emphasize the physicality and importance of the run game that we have established, and will place greater emphasis on the vertical passing game and taking shots down field. We want to be a dynamic offense that is up-tempo and aggressive in all areas that is exciting to watch and for our players to play in.”
Wells, who is a 1996 Utah State alum and was a three-year letterman at quarterback for the Aggies, is in his second year on the Aggie staff, coaching the USU quarterbacks in 2011.
“Matt is very prepared for this position, and he’s youthful. While he’s 38 years old, he has a lot of coaching experience, he’s a first-time coordinator, but he’s well-prepared to take the next step,” Andersen said. “He has a great staff surrounding him with T.J. Woods, Ilaisa Tuiaki and Jovon Bouknight. They all work extremely well together. It will definitely be a group effort, but Matt has a lot of experience. He has been in several different programs, so he has a lot to pull from to be a great coordinator and is excited for the opportunity. I believe that he is well-prepared for the position. If I ever have the opportunity to promote from within, whether it is a coordinator or assistant coach position, I will always look within first, and this is perfect fit for our philosophy.”
Andersen said that running backs coach Tuiaki will handle the running backs and the tight ends, while Woods and Bouknight will remain with the offensive line and wide receivers, respectively. The NCAA is changing a rule that will allow teams to have four graduate assistants, and Andersen said he expects to use one of those positions to work with the tight ends.
Wells, a 38-year-old native of Sallisaw, Okla., takes over control of the Aggie offense after Dave Baldwin left USU for Colorado State.
The 2011 USU offense established new school records for total offense (5,945 yards), rushing yards (3,675 yards), total points (437) and total TDs (60). A total of four offensive players earned first-team all-Western Athletic Conference honors, including running back Robert Turbin, who collected the 2011 WAC Offensive Player of the Year award as well as first-team all-WAC selection. Offensive linemen Tyler Larsen and Philip Gapelu were also first-team all-WAC honorees, while tight end Tarren Lloyd was a second-team selection.
Leading the Aggie quarterbacks in 2011, Wells mentored USU freshman Chuckie Keeton, who started the Aggies’ first eight games. After Keeton suffered an injury in the Hawai‘i game on Nov. 5, Wells coached junior signal-caller Adam Kennedy. The junior not only started the final five games of the season, but led USU to five wins, including rallying the Aggies’ to victory in the Hawai‘i game coming back from a 28-7 halftime deficit for a 35-31 win. Kennedy spearheaded last-minute drives in four of the five victories, while anchoring a game-clinching, clock-eating drive to seal the game against Nevada, scrambling for a first down on a 3rd-and-10 play in the waning seconds to clinch USU’s bowl-eligibility victory.
Keeton finished the season ranked fourth in the WAC and 48th in the FBS in passing efficiency (137.4), completing 106-of-174 (.609) passes for 1,200 yards (109.1 ypg) with 11 TDs and two interceptions.The freshman signal-caller also finished fourth on the team in rushing with 293 yards on 68 carries (4.3 ypc) with four TDs.
Kennedy would lead the conference and rank fifth in the country in passing efficiency at 169.04 but does not meet the required minimum of 15 attempts per game. The junior was 76-of-110 (.691) passing for 972 yards (121.5 ypg) with 11 TDs and four INTs. Kennedy was also fifth on the team in rushing with 239 yards on 55 carries (4.3 ypc).
Wells played quarterback at USU for four years (1993-96) and was the starter as a sophomore. A three-time all-Big West academic selection, Wells was a member of Big West Conference championship teams in 1993 and 1996. He was also a part of the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl team, helping USU to a 42-33 win over Ball State.
Wells received his bachelor’s degree in business marketing from Utah State in 1996, graduating cum laude. He has also taken courses at the Huntsman School of Business in pursuit of his MBA.
Wells returned to USU after coaching at New Mexico, where he coached the wide receivers and kickoff return unit in 2010. In 2009, Wells was the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at Louisville. In 2007 and 2008, Wells was New Mexico’s wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator, coaching alongside current Aggie offensive line coach T.J. Woods with the Lobos.
Wells has coached nine all-conference players, two All-Americans and two NFL Draft picks in the last nine years. Under Wells’ tutelage, his kickoff return units broke or tied 16 school records as well as breaking or tying four NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) records.
In 2010 at New Mexico, in addition to coaching the Lobo wide receivers, Wells coordinated a kickoff return unit that finished 27th in the FBS with a 23.5 yards per return average. The kickoff return unit established six new school records, while tying one.
In his one season at Louisville, Wells directed a passing game that amassed 2,507 yards and nine TDs. The Cardinals averaged 208.9 yards passing per game.
Prior to New Mexico, Wells was tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at Tulsa from 2002-06. Wells was a part of three bowl trips for the Golden Hurricane in four seasons from 2003-06, including helping Tulsa to its first back-to-back bowls since 1964-65 by making repeat bowl trips in 2005 and 2006.
Before his stint at Tulsa, Wells was an assistant coach at the U.S. Naval Academy from 1997-2001, serving as a service academy assistant coach for the varsity in 1997, assisting with coaching the quarterbacks and fullbacks. Wells also mentored the varsity fullbacks for three seasons (1998-2000) and the wide receivers in 2001.
During the 1998-2000 seasons, Wells also served as the head junior varsity coach and offensive coordinator. The Navy J.V. teams posted an overall record of 20-2 during that span.
Wells and his wife, Jen, have two daughters, Jadyn and Ella, and a son, Wyatt.
Utah State posted a historic season with a 7-6 record, its first seven-win season since 1993, capping its season with the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, losing to Ohio in a 24-23 thriller. Five of USU’s losses were by one score or less, and 10 of the Aggies’ games were decided by one score this season which are the most in the nation.
Fans can follow the Aggie football program at Twitter or on the USU football blog. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at Twitter or on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
Additional Aggie sports news is available at the Athletics website.
Contact: Zach Fisher, (435) 797-2066