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).
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.
The NCAA-approved 10th assistant became official on Tuesday, and so far the highest-profile hire — by far — has been Ohio State’s plucking of Washington State defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. In just three seasons on staff, the 37-year-old Grinch took a defense that was 99th nationally in total defense the year prior to his arrival and transformed them to the 16th-best unit in college football this season.
Grinch’s loss is one that Mike Leach does not believe can be filled by just one replacement.
Wazzu has already hired ex-Minnesota head coach Tracy Claeys to serve as defensive coordinator, but now the Cougars are moving on another up-and-comer to also join the staff.
According to UStateAggies and the Seattle Times, Utah State co-defensive coordinator Kendrick Shaver will join the staff in an as-yet-undefined role.
Officially, Shaver will fill the role left by outside linebackers coach Roy Manning, who left Pullman to become Chip Kelly‘s special teams coordinator in Westwood, but the guess here is Shaver oversees the secondary in a co-defensive coordinator role.
Shaver spent six seasons on staff at Utah State, where he was selected by his peers as a co-recipient of the FootballScoop Defensive Backs Coach of the Year award in 2012. Under Shaver’s guidance, Utah State recorded three seasons in which it ranked among the top 25 nationally in pass efficiency defense, including this season.
The next stop on Gary Andersen‘s coaching journey will once take him back to the Beehive State.
Utah announced that Kyle Whittingham has added Andersen to his Utes coaching staff. Andersen, who will carry the title of associate head coach and serve as an unspecified defensive assistant, will officially begin his duties Jan. 9, the date the NCAA rule that adds a 10th assistant goes into effect.
This will mark Andersen’s third coaching stint at his alma mater, the first coming from 1997-2202 and the second from 2004-2008.
“Returning to the Utah football family is something my wife Stacey and I are very excited about,” said Andersen in a statement. “Having an opportunity to coach at your alma mater is somewhat unusual and having the opportunity to do it again is certainly special. Kyle Whittingham is a great coach and I look forward to working alongside him again. I am fired up to meet the players and go to work.”
Andersen left Utah the second time to take over as the head coach at Utah State in 2009, where he spent four seasons before leaving for Wisconsin. After two seasons in Madison, he abruptly left to take the same job at Oregon State.
In the middle of his third season at the Pac-12 OSU, Andersen abruptly quit as the Beavers’ head coach.
“We’re looking forward to Gary rejoining our staff,” Whittingham said. “Gary brings a wealth of high-level coaching experience to the program, including serving as the head coach at two Power Five schools. During his previous time on our staff, he developed some of the best defensive linemen in Utah history. In addition, he is an excellent recruiter and motivator and understands what it takes to win at this level.”
It was a rematch 57 years in the making and both sides wanted to soak up every extra moment. New Mexico State ended the NCAA’s longest bowl drought in dramatic fashion to beat Utah State 26-20 in overtime on Friday night in an Arizona Bowl full of the highs and lows of college football.
In front of what seemed like half of Las Cruces at the home stadium of the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson, the Aggies put behind several quarters of offensive malaise by marching 69 yards midway through the fourth quarter to tie the game on an incredible Jaleel Scott catch in the end zone. The NMSU defense came up with a stop in the extra period not long after and a missed field goal by USU was just the opening the team needed before running back Larry Rose III burst up the middle for a 21 yard touchdown that set off pandemonium in the stands.
The victory not only gave the Aggies of New Mexico State their first win in the postseason since 1960 — which happened to be a 20-13 defeat of Utah State in the Sun Bowl — but capped off a pretty incredible story for one of the smallest programs in all of FBS. Rose finished the game with 142 yards on the ground and was the team’s leading receiver in the game as well. His running made up for a rather lackluster offensive day for quarterback Tyler Rogers (191 yards, one TD, two INTs) and company as the group had eight 3-and-outs against one of the better secondaries at the Group of Five level.
While those long stretches without points or any kind of offensive production made things hard to watch at times in this one, there was at least plenty of excitement early in the first quarter when Utah State’s Savon Scarver (96 yards) and NMSU’s Jason Huntley ran back-to-back kickoffs for touchdowns not five minutes in.
The loss caps off another tough season for Matt Wells’ Aggies after they led in just about every statistical category but saw kicker Dominik Eberle make only two of his six field goal attempts to let a win slip through their fingers. QB Jordan Love (254 yards passing) and RB LaJuan Hunt (133 yards rushing, 1 TD) both had decent outings but it wasn’t enough as points came at a premium for both sides.
The game also marks the end of an era for New Mexico State as it was their final contest as a member of a conference — in this case the Sun Belt. The program will operate as a football independent in 2018 and, funny enough, will play Utah State again next September up in Logan. Something says both sets of Aggies will have plenty to play for when that one rolls around in what should be a fun footnote to a long, long drought being emphatically ended on Friday.