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Memphis adds former Oregon State defensive coordinator in off-the-field role

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Memphis has added an experienced voice to its defensive room. The Tigers have announced the hiring of former Oregon State, Utah State and Hawaii defensive coordinator Kevin Clune as a senior defensive assistant.

Clune spent the past two seasons coordinating defenses in Corvallis for head coach Gary Andersen, but was not retained by new head coach Jonathan Smith. After inheriting a unit that ranked 116th nationally in yards per play allowed in 2015, Clune bumped the Beavers to 79th in 2016, but they subsequently fell to 121st last fall. Clune spent 2015 as the defensive coordinator at Utah State, where the Aggies placed 17th nationally in yards per play allowed. Clune also spent one season — 2014 — as the defensive coordinator at Hawaii, helping the Warriors improve from 117th to 84th nationally.

Clune also has defensive coordinator experience at Southern Utah and Weber State.

Memphis went 10-3 in 2017 despite a defense that finished 75th in yards per play and 102nd in scoring. The Tigers won the American Athletic Conference’s West Division, but fell to UCF 62-55 in double overtime in the AAC Championship.

 

Utah State replaces running backs coach lost to Purdue with ex-North Carolina assistant

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Nearly three weeks after losing an assistant to a Big Ten school, Matt Wells has filled that particular hole on his Utah State coaching staff.

USU confirmed in a press release Wednesday that DeAndre Smith has been hired as the Aggies’ running backs coach. Smith replaces Mark Tommerdahl, who left last month to take over as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at Purdue.

Last season, Smith was the running backs coach at North Carolina.

“I am extremely honored and fortunate to have this opportunity to work with Coach Wells and the rest of his staff,” a statement from Smith began. “I’m really excited about the opportunity of doing my part to help this program win a Mountain West Championship.”

Prior to his time at UNC, Smith was on the coaching staff at… Purdue, as running backs coach, of course. Smith has also served in that positional coaching role at Syracuse (2013-15), New Mexico (2012, 2008), Illinois (2010-11), UNLV (2009) and Miami of Ohio (2005-07).

One of the assistants on the Lobos’ staff during Smith’s first stint with the program? Smith’s new boss, Matt Wells, who served as wide receivers coach for the Mountain West program.

“DeAndre is an excellent addition to our football staff here at Utah State and fits well in a lot of areas with our staff,” the head coach said in his statement. “He is a tremendous football coach and does a great job coaching running backs. DeAndre is an excellent recruiter and someone that will coach our kids hard with a lot of love. We welcome DeAndre, Lori, Ryan and Donovan to our Aggie football family.”

Purdue hires Utah State’s Mark Tommerdahl as special teams and tight ends coach

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Jeff Brohm is bringing in longtime coaching veteran Mark Tommerdahl to fill out his staff and serve as Purdue’s special teams and tight ends coach.

The Boilermakers announced the move on Saturday afternoon as Tommerdahl heads to West Lafayette after spending just a season at Utah State where he also coached running backs and ran the Aggies’ special teams. While his stay in Logan was brief, Tommerdahl has been all over the country in 34 years as a coach and is highly regarded for his work in the kicking game.

Tommerdahl has plenty of prior Power Five coaching experience and spent four seasons with Sonny Dykes at Cal where he coached three different position groups and served as assistant head coach. Prior to that he also had stops at Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M, Alabama, TCU and several other schools.

The move to bring in Tommerdahl fills the spot on the Boilermakers’ staff that was left when former Houston coach Tony Levine left after one season with the school to pursue opportunities outside of the coaching profession. Brohm’s 10th assistant Kevin Wolthausen was also given special teams responsibilities when he was elevated to a full-time role so it’s possible the team is really beefing up their emphasis on the third phases of the game with the two new coaches splitting duties when it comes to special teams.

Either way, after a surprising 2017 season that ended with a bowl game victory it’s pretty clear that Brohm is not just sitting back when it comes to his coaching staff and is bringing in some veteran names to help the team take the next step in 2018.

Ex-Arizona State DC Keith Patterson named to same job at Utah State

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Demoted at his last job, Keith Patterson is back to leading his own defense.

Utah State confirmed in a release Tuesday that Patterson has been named as USU’s new defensive coordinator.  In addition to his coordinating duties, Patterson will also coach the Aggies’ safeties, a first for that particular position group in his coaching career.

“We are very excited to announce Keith Patterson as a member of our defensive staff,” said head coach Matt Wells. “Keith’s experience as a defensive coordinator and aggressive style will mesh very well with coach Maile and our current staff. Keith and I have spent several years coaching together previously and I know his work ethic, passion and energy will fit perfect into our Utah State football culture. We are excited to have Keith and Melissa as part of our Aggie football family.”

“I am excited to become a member of the Utah State family,” said Patterson. “I have tremendous respect for Coach Wells, the staff and players in this program. I look forward to helping build upon the success and foundation that has already been established.”

Patterson spent the past four seasons at Arizona State.  He was the coordinator the first three years with the Sun Devils before he stepped aside and was replaced by Phil Bennett in January of last year.  This past season, he was Todd Graham‘s linebackers coach at ASU.

Prior to ASU, Patterson was the coordinator at West Virginia (solo 2013, co-coordinator in 2012) and Pitt (2011).

Chuckie Keeton returns to Utah State as offensive assistant coach

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One of Utah State’s all-time best players is back with the program. Chuckie Keeton is joining the Utah State coaching staff, although his exact title has not yet been officially confirmed.

What role Keeton will take on remains to be officially announced, although the speculation is he will be an offensive assistant coach who will work with the Utah State quarterbacks. This will be Keeton’s second coaching job since his playing days came to a close. Keeton got started at Oregon State under former Utah State and Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen. Keeton joined the Oregon State coaching staff in 2016. With changes in the Oregon State program with a coaching change this offseason, now was as good a time as any for Keeton to return to Utah State, where he became one of the top players from a non-power conference program to become a bit of a household name.

Keeton shared his reaction to returning to his alma mater on Twitter.

Keeton holds a number of Utah State records including career records for completion percentage and pass efficiency and season records for most touchdown passes, passing yards, total offensive yards, and completion percentage. Utah State finished the 2017 season ranked 69th in the nation in passing offense and ended the year with 17 passing touchdowns to 13 interceptions.

Keeton’s college career was sidetracked by injuries far too often, but it will be good to see Keeton back with the Utah State program as he continues his coaching career.