Head Coach Matt Wells
Matt Wells, a two-time Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year recipient, enters his first season leading the Red Raiders after being named the 16th head coach in Texas Tech history on Nov. 29, 2018.
Wells compiled a 44-34 overall record at his alma mater, leading the Aggies to five bowl appearances during his six seasons. Utah State had made only eight bowl appearances in its history prior to Wells’ promotion to head coach prior to the 2013 season. Wells departed Utah State as the only coach in school history to lead the Aggies to at least three bowl games as well as multiple bowl victories.
Wells closed his tenure in Logan as the second-winningest coach in program history as his 44 career victories trailed only the total of E. Lowell Romney, who accumulated 128 wins over a 29-year stretch from 1919-48. Wells compiled a 30-18 record in Mountain West play, trailing only Romney in all-time conference wins among Utah State head coaches.
The Aggies recorded two of their three 10-win campaigns in school history under Wells as Utah State finished 10-4 in only his second season in 2014 and then 11-2 in 2018, which matched the school record for wins. Utah State was also 9-5 during Wells' debut season in 2013, which marked the most wins for a first-year head coach in program history.
Utah State recorded one of its best season in school history in Wells’ final year as the Aggies closed the 2018 campaign ranked 21st in the final Amway Coaches’ poll and 22nd in the Associated Press poll. It marked only the fourth time in school history the Aggies, who climbed as high as No. 13 during the regular season, have ended a year among the top-25 schools in the AP poll. The No. 13 ranking, meanwhile, was Utah State’s highest since the 1961 season.
Wells was named the 2018 Mountain West Coach of the Year for the second time during his stint in Logan, making him just the fifth Mountain West coach to receive the honor twice in a career, joining the likes of Sonny Lubick, Rocky Long, Urban Meyer and Gary Patterson. He also received the accolade following his debut season in 2013.
Utah State boasted one of the most dynamic offenses in the country in 2018, averaging 47.5 points per game, which only trailed Oklahoma among schools nationally. The Aggies lighted up scoreboards to the tune of 618 points on the season, snapping the Mountain West and Utah State single-season records in the process.
Overall, the Aggies snapped 34 school records and tied six others during the 2018 season alone, breaking the previous marks for touchdowns (79), points scored (618), points per game (47.5), total offense per game (497.4), yards of total offense (6,466), total passing yards (3,825), completions (303), extra points (75) and yards per kick return (30.3). Utah State also had 29 scoring drives under one minute, nearly double its previous school record.
It wasn’t only the offense that pushed the Aggies in 2018 as Utah State led or shared the national lead in turnovers gained (32), passes intercepted (22) and kickoff return average (30.3) and three-and-outs forced (5.7 per game). Utah State finished plus-14 in the turnover margin, ranking third in the FBS in the category.
Utah State found the end zone in multiple ways on the season thanks to six defensive touchdowns and four others that came via special teams. The Aggies ranked second in the FBS with 10 non-offensive touchdowns, trailing only Temple among schools nationally. Over his six seasons, Utah State combined for 36 defensive and special teams touchdowns, which ranked among the nation’s elite during that span.
Strong defenses were a staple under Wells as the Aggies allowed only 22.2 points per game in 2018, marking the third time during his tenure Utah State surrendered 25 points or less in a season. Utah State opened Wells’ tenure as head coach by giving up only 17.1 points per game in 2013 (seventh in the FBS) and 19.7 points per game in 2014 (12th in the FBS). Opposing offenses averaged less than 30 points per game against Utah State throughout Wells’ six seasons.
The category Utah State possibly made its presence known best was in the turnover department as the Aggies created 152 takeaways under Wells, which ranked tied for fifth nationally over his tenure. Utah State led the Mountain West and trailed only Houston, Louisiana Tech, Washington and UCF in the category.
Utah State’s success in all three facets of the game led to five Aggies being selected in the NFL Draft under Wells, namely linebacker Nick Vigil, who was picked in the third round of the 2016 draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Vigil, the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, earned second team All-America honors in 2014, one of six Aggies to collect All-America recognition during Wells’ tenure.
Jalen Davis was a first team All-America selection by the Walter Camp Foundation in 2017, becoming only the ninth Aggie all-time to earn first-team honors. Davis, who was also a Freshman All-American in 2014, was one of 15 Aggies under Wells to collect first team All-Mountain West honors. He went to play five games as a rookie with the Miami Dolphins in 2018.
Prior to accepting the head coaching position, Wells spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Aggies, serving as quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator in 2011 before being promoted to offensive coordinator a year later. Utah State won 18 games in those two seasons, including a school-record 11 victories in 2012.
As offensive coordinator in 2012, Wells helped Utah State claim the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) title, its first outright conference championship since 1936 and just its third in school history. That season, Wells directed an Aggie offense that set single-season school records for total points (454), total offense (6,108), completions (285) and total yards per game (469.8, while ranking second in points per game (34.9) and total passing yards (3,445).
Nationally, Utah State’s 2012 offense ranked second in the WAC and 23rd in the FBS for total offense, averaging 469.8 yards per game. The Aggie also ranked 18th nationally in passing efficiency (153.21), 25th in rushing offense (204.8 yards per game), 31st in sacks allowed (1.38 per game), 33rd in scoring offense (34.9 points per game) and 39th in passing offense (265.0 yards per game). Utah State closed the 2012 campaign scoring 38 or more points in each of its final seven games.
Wells was instrumental in the development of quarterback Chuckie Keeton, who earned first team All-WAC honors in 2012 after setting single-season school records for touchdown passes (27), passing yards (3,373), completion percentage (.676), completions (275) and total offense (3,992). Keeton also earned WAC Offensive Player of the Week honors four times in 2012, which marked a single-season school record.
Keeton remains Utah State’s all-time leader in career touchdown passes (62) as well as career total offense (8,808 yards) and ranks second in career completions (672), career passing yards (8,695), career passing attempts (1,068) and career completion percentage (.629). Keeton went on to join Wells’ staff at Utah State as a graduate assistant and has accepted the same role with him at Texas Tech.
Wells, a quarterback for the Aggies from 1994-96, was a member of two conference championship teams as a student-athlete, which came as a redshirt freshman in 1993 and as a senior in 1996 when Utah State was a member of the Big West Conference. The Aggies earned a share of the Big West title each of those two seasons, the first of which garnered Utah State an invite to the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl II. Utah State topped Ball State, 42-33, in that game for its first bowl victory in school history.
A native of Sallisaw, Oklahoma, Wells returned to his alma mater in a coaching role following his second stint on the staff at the University of New Mexico. Wells served as the Lobos' wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator from 2007-08 and then rejoined the staff as wide receivers coach in 2010. In between, he was Louisville's quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator for the 2009 season.
Prior to his first stay at New Mexico, Wells spent five years (2002-06) as the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at Tulsa and five years at the U.S. Naval Academy (1997-01) as its quarterbacks, fullbacks and wide receivers coach. He was also the junior varsity head coach and offensive coordinator for three years at the Naval Academy.
Wells earned his bachelor's degree in business marketing from Utah State in 1996, graduating cum laude. He and his wife, Jen, have two daughters, Jadyn (15) and Ella (12), and one son, Wyatt (9).