Utah State head coach Matt Wells runs the Aggie offense during a preseason scrimmage in August 2016 at Maverik Stadium.
LOGAN — The day before fall camp on Friday, Utah State football coach Matt Wells was feeling the pulse. He was saying “there is excitement to this season” and predicting a “very, very competitive camp.”
Soon, though, he was back to the reality of a team that went 3-9 last season; a year that included just one conference win. Losing “stunk,” he said, and the final record was “embarrassing.”
Those are terms that easily could describe how it feels to get fired, too. But Wells knows the stakes. Even though Utah State could have been 6-6 or even 7-5 (his team lost four games by seven points or less) he’s taking no consolation.
“Do we want the results of last year to change? Absolutely, and I think there is a lot of resolve among the coaches and players,” he said. “When it comes down to it, the bottom line is winning close games.”
A year ago, optimism reigned. Romney Stadium had become Maverik Stadium, following renovations. The Aggies were coming off a 6-7 season, but had made it to a bowl game in 2015. More important, that year they made compost out of Boise State on an October night, winning 52-26.
But all the cheese in Cache Valley couldn’t keep them from their problems in 2016. They missed a bowl game for the first time since 2010. USU lost by seven to Air Force and Colorado State, two to New Mexico and one to Nevada. Winning those games would have put the Aggies 7-5 overall and 5-3 in the conference.
So naturally nobody on the team is seriously talking about championships this year. They’re talking about improvements. The Aggies return starting quarterback Kent Myers, who two years ago had a nice introductory campaign. But last year his passing efficiency plummeted, thanks to eight interceptions and just 10 touchdown passes. An honorable mention all-conference player in 2015, Myers is in the top 25 in career rushing and passing at USU. Meanwhile, senior cornerback Jalen Davis has started 36 games.