Utah's Kyle Whittingham sees parallels with Utah State coach Matt Wells
Logan • At practice last week, coach Matt Wells was preparing to launch into his first season as a head coach, perhaps the most challenging undertaking of his life.
He had a hard time keeping a smile off his face.
"I'm extremely happy to be here, very blessed to be here," Wells said. "It's your alma mater. There's a lot of us players and staff that have invested a lot into this program, and to see it come to fruition and to see what's on the horizon for this program is very, very exciting."
Wells has said several times during the offseason that it wasn't hard to choose a chance to coach the Aggies over a job at Wisconsin under Gary Andersen. He takes over for one of the most charasmatic and memorable coaches in program history.
In that way, he takes after the coach he'll face this week.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham sees the parallel between Wells and himself, although his choice was not to go to his alma mater at BYU. He stuck with the program he was in, and elected to follow Urban Meyer. He was invested in his team at Utah.
In many ways, Whittingham made the blueprint of what Wells hopes to accomplish following Andersen. He kept the Utes successful in the Mountain West, and went on to win a BCS bowl. The success he oversaw on the football field is the main reason the Utes were invited to the Pac-12.
Whittingham appreciates the challenges of following a legend. That's why Whittingham doesn't expect much to change with the Aggies, he said in a Tuesday conference call as he compared Wells' situation to his own after Meyer left.
"If it's not broke don't fix it," Whittingham said. "I would guess they would hang on to what they did schematically last year. They have almost everyone back."
Whittingham said he'd expect more of the same offensive and defensive concepts out of Utah State, even with the coaching changeover in certain areas.
He also drew a comparison that Wells made on Monday between Utah State's Kyler Fackrell and Utah's Trevor Reilly: "[Fackrell's] a heck of a player. Just a sophomore but he had a great freshman year. He's a difference maker on the edge. Reminds me a lot of our guy Trevor Reilly. Our offense gets a look at a very similar guy, so that helps."
Also, I wanted to make sure Aggies readers had a chance to catch up on the work my colleagues Lya Wodraska and Tony Jones are doing covering the Utes:
• Utah is looking to set the tone for their season with a win over Utah State.
• A profile on quarterback Travis Wilson, who knows he's under pressure to perform well against Chuckie Keeton.
• Reilly talking about the challenges of defending Keeton (VIDEO).
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon