Blake Anderson formally announced as next head football coach at Utah State

Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson yells for his team against Louisiana-Lafayette during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020 in Lafayette, La. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

LOGAN – Blake Anderson has been formally announced as the next head football coach at Utah State University. Director of Athletics John Hartwell mad the announcement Saturday afternoon.

“On behalf of Aggie nation, I am thrilled to announce Blake Anderson as our new head football coach,” said Hartwell in a statement. “I have watched his Arkansas State teams over the past seven years, first when I was at Troy and then here at USU, and I am excited for our fans to witness first-hand his high-octane offense and championship brand of football.

“Blake is an outstanding football coach and an even better person. His emphasis on total development of his student-athletes in the classroom, on the field and in preparation for life after football, will be a great asset for Utah State University.”

A press conference to formally introduce Anderson will be held on Monday, Dec. 14, at 11 a.m., and will be streamed live at UtahStateAggies.com/watch. USU will also stream a question-and-answer session with Anderson at noon, giving Aggie fans an opportunity to interact with the new head coach.

Anderson is stepping into controversial situation at Utah State. Football players held a players-only meeting and reportedly voted unanimously to not play in their final contest of the season at Colorado State. The reason, they claimed, was because of religious and cultural bias exhibited by university president Noelle Cockett toward interim head coach Frank Maile during a meeting with the players’ leadership council. On Saturday, the university’s Board of Trustees announced they would retain an independent investigator to conduct a thorough review of the concerns raised by the student-athletes.

Anderson has been the head coach at Arkansas State since 2014, amassing a record of 51-37 with back-to-back Sun Belt Conference Championships in 2015 and 2016. Anderson had winning records in each of his first six years at Arkansas State, taking his teams to six straight bowl games. His teams were 2-4 in the post-season and finished with a 4-7 record this year.

“I am beyond excited and grateful for the opportunity to lead the Utah State football program,” said Anderson in a statement. “This is an unbelievable place with a great tradition and history of success, both on and off the field, that we look forward to building upon. I can’t wait to get started with the guys and I look forward to a packed Maverik Stadium next fall. GO AGGIES!!!”

According to a university release, the Red Wolves broke 12 school records under Anderson, including 494.8 yards of total offense per game, 4,106 passing yards and 38 touchdown passes in 2017, 520 points scored and 69 total touchdowns in 2015, and 6,174 yards of total offense and 1,024 total plays in 2014. Additionally, 40 of their 51 wins were by double digits.

Blake is in the process of assembling an all-star staff and I have full confidence that Aggie football will return to the upper echelon of the Mountain West in the near future,” added Hartwell.

Anderson has seen the Utah State Aggies before. In his first season in charge of Arkansas State the Aggies made a trip to Jonesboro, Arkansas. The Red Wolves beat USU 21-14 in overtime on Sept. 20, 2014. Anderson made a return trip to Logan on Sept. 16, 2016 and the Aggies came out on top 34-20.

Additional details about Anderson’s coaching profile, courtesy of Utah State University, are below:

Statistically, Arkansas State annually ranked as one of the top offensive teams in the nation under Anderson. This season, the Red Wolves led the Sun Belt Conference and ranked 15th nationally in total offense at 489.7 yards per game. ASU also led the Sun Belt in total offense in 2018 (466.2 yards per game), 2017 (494.8 ypg) and 2014 (476.5 ypg), and ranked second in 2015 (438.5 ypg). Furthermore, the 2017 team ranked 10th in the nation in total offense, while the 2018 team was 17th and the 2014 team was 20th nationally.

As for passing offense, Arkansas State led the Sun Belt Conference and ranked third in the nation this season at 364.4 yards per game. Last year, the Red Wolves finished second in the conference and 10th in the nation with 312.1 passing yards per game. ASU also led the Sun Belt in passing offense in both 2017 and 2018 with 342.2 and 281.5 passing yards per game, respectively. The 2017 team also ranked fifth nationally in that category, while the 2018 team was 21st in the nation.

Arkansas State also led the Sun Belt Conference in scoring offense three times under Anderson as the 2017 team averaged 37.8 points per game to rank 13th nationally, while the 2015 team averaged 40.0 points per game to rank 12th in the nation, and the 2014 team averaged 36.7 points per game to rank 18th nationally. In fact, six of Anderson’s seven Red Wolves teams averaged over 30 points per game.

Overall, each of Anderson’s first six squads at Arkansas State ranked among the top-45 teams in the nation in at least 23 combined offensive, defensive and special teams categories, including the 2018 team that led the nation in punt return defense (-1.9 yards per return), the 2016 team that led the nation in tackles for loss (9.6 per game) and the 2015 squad that led the nation in both defensive touchdowns (8) and passes intercepted (26).

Along the way, Anderson saw 11 of his players earn all-Sun Belt recognition in 2014, followed by 16 in 2015, 2016 and 2019, and a school-record 18 in 2017. All six seasons combined, Anderson had coached 65 different players to 97 all-conference selections – the most in the league over that span.

Following the 2019 campaign, Anderson received the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award and was named the Grant Teaff Coach of the Year, presented annually by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as he guided the Red Wolves to an 8-5 record and Camellia Bowl championship after his wife, Wendy, passed away prior to the start of the season following a courageous battle with cancer.

Before joining Arkansas State, Anderson was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at both North Carolina (2012-13) and Southern Miss (2010-11). His dynamic offense helped lead the two programs to 34 victories, three bowl game appearances and two conference or divisional titles.

Anderson came to Southern Miss after spending the 2007 campaign at Louisiana-Lafayette as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The Ragin’ Cajuns posted the sixth-ranked rushing offense nationally (251.6) in 2007 and became the Sun Belt’s first-ever 3,000-yard rushing team (3,019).

Anderson, who was in private business from 2004-06, worked at Middle Tennessee as the co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach from 2002-04, and at New Mexico from 1999-2001 as the wide receivers and running backs coach.

Before joining the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) ranks, Anderson worked at Trinity Valley Community College (1995-98) in Athens, Texas, where he helped lead the Cardinals to the 1997 NJCAA National Championship.

Anderson began his coaching career at Eastern New Mexico in 1992 (graduate assistant) and 1993 (full-time), where he tutored the wide receivers. He then moved on to Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas, to coach the wide receivers in 1994. HPU won the Texas IAA conference title.

A two-year letterwinner at wide receiver for Sam Houston State from 1990-91, Anderson was named Southland Conference all-academic as a senior. He also played for two years as a quarterback and receiver at Baylor (1988-89) before transferring. Anderson graduated with his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Sam Houston State in 1992. He also attained his master’s degree in sports administration from Eastern New Mexico in 1994.

Anderson has one daughter, Callie, and two sons, Coleton and Cason.

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