Stop me if you have heard this before, but Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton is injured. The Aggies quarterback will miss the next four to six weeks with a sprained knee, Utah State head coach Matt Wells announced today.
Keeton has battled various injuries over the last few years at Utah State, never being able to stay healthy for an extended period of time. Keeton appeared in just three games last season before being sidelined for the remainder of the year after coming back from a knee injury. Keeton played just six games in 2013. With Keeton once again out of action for Utah State, Kent Myers will run the offense in his place. Myers played in seven games last season after backing up both Keeton and Darrell Garretson. As a freshman, Myers completed 66.4 percent of his pass attempts for 866 yards and five touchdowns, with three interceptions.
Utah State is off this week with a scheduled bye. The Aggies host Colorado State on October 3, so Myers will have some extra time to prepare for his first start. If Keeton is out for four weeks, he will liekly miss games against the Rams, Fresno State and Boise State. The best case scenario would seem to suggest Keeton could return for a road game at San Diego State, but the six-week timeline would not have Keeton back on the field until either a home game against Wyoming on October 30 or November 7 at New Mexico.
With Utah State on the rise in the Mountain West Conference and preparing for a possible run at Boise State in the Mountain Division, the Aggies have announced a contract extension for head coach Matt Wells. The new contract for Wells will keep him employed by Utah State through 2019.
“It is extremely important to us that we keep Matt and his staff at Utah State long-term, and I know in my conversations with him this is exactly what he wants,” said interim AD Jana Doggett. “We know what we have in Coach Wells and his commitment to our student-athletes continues to be tremendous. Matt has deep roots here as a former Aggie quarterback and he conveys his passion for our great university on a daily basis.”
Although the financial terms of the new contract have not been revealed, it does assure increases in salary for assistant coaches as well.
Since being named the head coach of the Aggies, after Gary Andersen accepted a coaching offer from Wisconsin two years ago, Wells has gone 19-9 despite a handful of key injuries to players like quarterback Chuckie Keeton. Wells coached Utah State to the Mountain West Conference championship game two seasons ago, nearly upsetting Fresno State in the process, and a double-digit win total in 2014. Utah State has won a bowl game in each of Wells’ first two seasons as head coach.
Oregon State is one of two power conference programs currently searching for a new head coach, but they may not have to look very far to find a new head coach for the Beavers program. The Pac-12 school has reportedly reached out to BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall, Utah State head coach Matt Wells, Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin and former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke. The report tagging these coaches to the Oregon State coaching search comes from Jamie Newberg of Scout.com.
BYU’s Mendenhall started his coaching career at Oregon State, where he also played defensive back in 1986 and 1987. Mendenhall joined the coaching staff as a graduate assistant and coached the defensive line in 1989 through 1990 before making a couple of stops at lower level schools. He returned to Oregon State as a defensive line coach in 1995 and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1996. Mendenhall again made a few more stops before landing at BYU as a defensive coordinator and, eventually, being named head coach of the Cougars in 2005. Mendenhall would bring a good defensive approach to the Oregon State program and may have a chance to land some talent he cannot lure to BYU for a variety of reasons. Mendenhall ha stumped for BYU to receive an invite to the Big 12, but taking a job offer from Oregon State would put him in a power conference. Mendenhall signed an extension with BYU in 2013 that runs through 2016, so there would be some sort of buyout involved if needed.
Wells has no direct ties to Oregon State. The former Utah State quarterback has been a part of the Utah State coaching staff since 2011, first as a quarterbacks coach, then an offensive coordinator and now head coach since 2013. Wells put together a very respectable coaching job this season by keeping Utah State in contention for the Mountain West Conference championship despite the losses of quarterbacks Chuckie Keeton (knee injury) and Darrell Garretson (wrist surgery). If not for Colorado State and Boise State, Wells would have been a worthy option for coach of the year honors out of the MWC.
Baldwin has led Eastern Washington, a powerhouse program in the FCS, to a 2010 national championship and two appearances in the FCS semifinals in 2012 and 2013. Baldwin’s Eagles are hosting a quarterfinal game against Illinois State this weekend on the blood-red turf. Eastern Washington’s only two losses this season have come on the road, at Northern Arizona and Pac-12 school (and Oregon State division foe) Washington. Eastern Washington has won at least 10 games in four of the last five seasons. Good coaches can be good coaches anywhere, so Baldwin should absolutely be on Oregon State’s radar.
Hoke, of course, was removed as head coach of Michigan this season. Hoke’s trends at Michigan were all bad since taking over the program after a successful stint at San Diego State. Would a step back to the west coast be a refreshing change of pace and environment for Hoke? There may be precedent in play here. A move to the Pac-12 sure worked out well for another former Michigan head coach. Rich Rodriguez was just named Pac-12 coach of the year this season and led Arizona to the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Oregon State lost head coach Mike Riley to Nebraska following the removal of Bo Pelini in Lincoln.
The return of Chuckie Keeton to the football field did not go as planned this fall. And now it looks as though it is over. Utah State sent out a release Wednesday evening stating Keeton is likely out for the rest of the 2014 season.
Keeton suffered a left knee injury against Wake Forest earlier in the season. The injury was to the same knee that underwent surgery last season for a torn ACL and a torn MCL. The initial feeling seemed optimistic at the time, although the team decided it was bets to play it safe. He sat out Utah State’s game against Arkansas State as a caution. Apparently things have not gotten much better in the weeks since the injury took place.
“Chuckie’s health is our top priority and he has not been cleared to play by our medical staff,” said Utah State head coach Matt Wells in the school’s released statement. “We will continue to monitor his progress throughout the fall, but given his current condition it is unlikely that he will play in any games in the foreseeable future.”
Keeton has never redshirted during his collegiate career, but this is his senior year. Whether or not he will be able to use a medical redshirt remains to be seen at this point. Here’s hoping Keeton can find a way to stay healthy though and maybe get another chance on the field. He has battled injuries throughout his collegiate career, so the concern is great for his potential future.
One thing is for sure. College football is much more entertaining and enjoyable when Keeton is healthy. Sadly, we have not been treated to enough of it.
As for Utah State, Darrell Garretson will once again assume the starting job for the Aggies. Just as he did last season, Garretson will look to lead Utah State forward through Mountain West Conference play. Last year, while filling in for Keeton, Garretson threw for 1,436 yards and 10 touchdowns and led Utah State to the Mountain West Conference championship game, where Utah State fell shy against Fresno State. This season could play out in similar fashion.