<strong>LOGAN—</strong>Despite setting team records in 2011 for total offense, rushing yards, total points, and total touchdowns, the Utah State offense had times where its effectiveness bogged down and the play calling was questionable.
The offensive coordinator that led that offense, Dave Baldwin, has now moved on to that same position with Colorado State University. In his place, former USU quarterback Matt Wells moves up from his position as the quarterbacks coach to take over the reins of the offense.
“It’s special. It’s an honor to be elevated to this position no matter where I was, but I think it’s a special deal for me to be alumni,” Wells said. “Those of us that have a lot invested into this program from when we were players and coaches – I’ve got a little bit of extra incentive.”
Wells graduated from USU in 1996, and was a three-year letterman for the Aggies. Before returning to the Aggies as a coach in 2011, Wells spent time at Navy, Tulsa, New Mexico and Louisville. He has spent the majority of his coaching career as a quarterbacks coach.
Though the Aggies lost their two top rushers from a season ago to graduation and the NFL, along with experience on the offensive line, Wells will have plenty of experience returning in 2012 – especially at the quarterback position.
Senior Adam Kennedy and sophomore Chuckie Keeton both return and both saw extensive playing time last season. Keeton started the season as a freshman and showed flashes of greatness, while Kennedy took over midway through when Keeton went down with an injury.
“I have two returning quarterbacks that are experienced on Saturday and on game day, and I trust them,” Wells said. “I feel a tremendous amount of confidence in both of those young men to put the ball in the air a little bit more.”
Lost amongst the Aggies prolific offense in 2011, was USU’s lack of a passing game. The Aggies ranked 97th out of 120 FBS teams in passing yards per game last year, with only 174.62 yards per game. With so much experience back at the quarterback position and so much production gone at the running back position, Wells said he expects USU to be more even in the run and pass this year.
Part of that may also be due to Wells’ aggressive nature.
“I’m aggressive by nature, I’m an aggressive play-caller, I’m aggressive coaching the quarterbacks and I’ll get after them a little bit,” Wells said. “I think it will be an aggressive calculated risk, but I think there will be times to slow it down and times to be conservative, and there will be times to be aggressive and go get after it – I’ll probably tend to be a little bit more on the aggressive and I’ll have to get held back a little bit.”
In his first year as an offensive coordinator, Wells will also have some experience to refer to on the staff. New assistant head coach Mike Sanford is a former offensive coordinator who comes to the Aggies from Louisville. Sanford was also the offensive coordinator at Utah, and was the head coach at UNLV for five seasons.
“I think it’s an excellent dynamic,” Sanford said of his coaching relationship with Wells. “Matt Wells is the offensive coordinator, I have tremendous respect for him, and we have a great relationship. He’s calling the plays and he’s the guy, and I want to do everything I can to help him.”
Off the field, Wells enjoys spending time with his wife Jen and his three children, Jadyn, Ella, and Wyatt. He said he also really enjoys golfing, but finds less and less time for that as his family grows and his coaching responsibilities increase.
“Coach Andersen is great, it’s a big family-oriented staff starting from the head coach down. I’ve got a wife and three kids and they’re very, very important to me,” Wells said. “I used to like to play a lot of golf, but when you’ve got kids that grow up and now they’re into gymnastics and soccer and those kinds of activities take a little bit more time, which is tremendous to go out and support those kids.”