Matt Wells

Utah State stays in-house for Andersen replacement

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On the same day Gary Andersen officially left his beloved school for the Wisconsin job, Utah State officially found a replacement.  And, as expected, they didn’t even have to go outside the football building to do it.

In a press release, USU announced that Matt Wells has been named as Andersen’s permanent successor.  Wells has spent the past two years at USU, with 2012 marking his first season as offensive coordinator.  He was the team’s quarterbacks coach in 2011.

The 39-year-old native of Sallisaw, Okla., was also a quarterback for the Aggies in the mid-90’s, earning three letters during his playing stint at his alma mater.

“I’m extremely honored and humbled to be the next head football coach at my alma mater,” said Wells. “This is a university that molded me as a student-athlete and I am fully invested and passionate about continuing the vision for this football program that was set before me. I would like to thank University President Stan Albrecht and Mr. Barnes for the trust, belief and vision they have in me to lead this program.

“We will continue to strive for excellence on the field, in the classroom and community, and continue the blueprint for success that has been established over the last few years. Our goal will be to compete for Mountain West Conference Championships and bowl championships on a yearly basis with young men that represent Cache Valley and Aggie Nation with the utmost class.”

Utah State, which set a school record with 11 wins this season under Andersen, will move from the WAC to the Mountain West next season.

In the first year with Wells at the offensive controls, the Aggies averaged 34.9 points per game and 469.1 yards per game.  Last season, those numbers were at 33.6 and 457.3.

Prior to his return to Logan, Wells had served on a handful of collegiate staffs, including two stints at New Mexico as wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator (2007-08 and 2010); in 2009 as Louisville’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator; from 2002-06 as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at Tulsa; and a stint from 1997-2001 as an assistant at Navy.

“We crafted our Football Excellence Plan four years ago in part to attract and retain top level assistants. Individuals who, if called upon, could grow into excellent head coaching candidates. Matt Wells has become our succession plan,” said athletic director Scott Barnes. “With resources generated through the Merlin Olsen Fund we were able to bring Matt to USU. Matt’s body of work as offensive coordinator has gained national attention and his significant contribution to our success over the past two years will be critical in providing continuity. Aggie football has gained national respect. Matt is simply the right leader at the right time to continue that progress.”

With the moves made today, just one head coaching job at the FBS level remains open — Florida International.  All told, and at the moment, 27 FBS teams will head into the 2013 season with new head coaches.

(Photo credit: Utah State athletics)

Virginia Tech holds 16-9 halftime lead over Miami thanks to defense and big plays

BLACKSBURG, VA - SEPTEMBER 24: Running back Shai McKenzie #28 of the Virginia Tech Hokies warms up prior to the game against the East Carolina Pirates at Lane Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images)
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Miami and Virginia Tech got together for a big ACC Coastal clash and each squad’s defense stepped up with numerous big plays on Thursday night as the Hokies held onto a 16-9 halftime lead.

The biggest play of the first half came from a surprising source: senior fullback Sam Rogers, who was wide open on a pass over the middle of the field and rumbled 52 yards to set up the team’s only touchdown. That score came one play later as quarterback Jerod Evans found Bucky Hodges in the end zone from seven yards out.

Evans eventually finished the half with 147 yards on 12-of-19 passing and chipped in another 36 rushing.

Virginia Tech’s defense was able to come up with some big plays of their own to limit the normally productive Miami offense. QB Brad Kaaya was pressured on nearly every snap but finished the half with 201 yards through the air. In addition to throwing an interception into triple coverage, he was also sacked three times. The team’s ground game also couldn’t get going either, averaging less than a yard per carry.

The game’s momentum seemed to change completely for the Hurricanes when Kaaya hit  David Njoku for a big gain on a coverage bust but the speedy tight end was tackled by the Lane Stadium turf monster despite a wide open path to a touchdown. Miami eventually kicked a field goal on the drive but couldn’t get going until entering their hurry up offense with just over a minute left in the second quarter.

It should make for a fun second half if the visitors from South Florida can back into things like they did just before halftime as each team needs a win badly if they want to win the division.

LOOK: Duke to wear commemorative helmets to honor 1942 Rose Bowl

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Duke, despite not ever being a member of the Big Ten or Pac-12, has a very unique connection to the Granddaddy of The All, and the football program is set to recognize said connection.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States government prohibited large gatherings of people on the West Coast.  As the school wrote in a release, “on January 1, 1942, the Rose Bowl was played for the only time outside of Pasadena, Calif., after Blue Devil head coach Wallace Wade offered Duke Stadium as the host venue. Oregon State defeated Duke in the contest, 20-16, in front of 56,000 spectators.”

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of hosting the Rose Bowl, Duke will wear commemorative helmets in its game against Virginia Tech on November 5 at Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium.

From the release:

The distinctive Battleship Grey matte helmet will be complemented with a black facemask and a decal replicating a logo used by the 88th Infantry Division of the United States Army that held the nickname “Blue Devils” during World War II. In addition, Duke’s standard black jersey will don an official Rose Bowl 75th Anniversary commemorative patch and, underneath the uniform, the Blue Devils will wear gray Nike Pro three-quarter sleeves and tights.


Restraining order could keep two Gopher players from Week 8 game

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 31: The Minnesota Golden Gophers warm up before the game against the Michigan Wolverines of the game on October 31, 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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You have heard myriad reasons for college football players to miss games, but this one might be a first.

In mid-September, four Minnesota football players — cornerbacks KiAnte Hardin and Ray Buford, safety Dior Johnson and defensive end Tamarion Johnson — were suspended in the midst of an investigation into an alleged sexual assault earlier in the month.  Citing insufficient evidence in the case, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced in early October that no charges would be filed and the players were reinstated.

However, Tamarion Johnson and another player who wasn’t suspended, sophomore running back Carlton Djam, had a temporary restraining order filed against them by the alleged victim. Because the woman who received the order is a student who works at TCF Bank Stadium on football game days, Johnson and Djam would not be permitted to be in the stadium for Saturday’s game against Rutgers.

The attorney for the two players, former Gopher football player Lee Hutton, told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press that he is seeking to have the order modified so that his clients can attend the homecoming game Saturday. “I’m aggressively advocating on behalf of my clients to contest the restraining order,” the attorney said.

“It would not be appropriate for the University to comment on this matter to the extent it relates to University students,” a statement from the school on the restraining order said. “The University reaffirms, however, that it will honor and comply with court orders.”

Djam has run for 33 yards on nine carries this season. A freshman, Johnson was a likely candidate for a redshirt.

Wisconsin LB Vince Biegel back from injury a lot sooner than expected

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 17:  Vince Biegel #47 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates after making a tackle in the second quarter against the Georgia State Panthers at Camp Randall Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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That was significantly quicker than anyone really expected.

Very late last month, Wisconsin confirmed that starting linebacker Vince Biegel would be sidelined “for several weeks” because of an injured foot that required surgery to insert a screw.  It was thought at the time that, at minimum, Biegel would miss games against Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa and Nebraska.

After missing the first two and with a bye week thrown in as well, the senior is set to return for the Badgers this weekend against the Hawkeyes on the road.

Prior to the foot injury, Biegel had started 29 games in a row for the Badgers.