Utah State football: New OC Kevin McGiven has fit right in
College football • Offensive coordinator is providing some continuity to USU’s attack.
Published: September 5, 2013 11:48PM
Updated: February 14, 2014 11:33PM
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Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Utah State's Clayton Christensen celebrates his touchdown during the first quarter with teammate Derek Keller, right, as Utah State hosts the University of Utah, college football in Logan, Utah, Friday, September 7, 2012.

Logan • The scoreboard said as much: 487 yards wasn’t enough.

Not for Utah State. Not for Kevin McGiven.

Defeat overshadowed any statistics the Aggies rang up last week under the team’s first-year offensive coordinator. He could lead the nation in total offense, but until the team starts winning again, he won’t be satisfied.

“There’s always things you go back and you wish you could’ve done over,” McGiven said. “ Stuff we could’ve done a little better. Looking over what happened, it’s a teaching and learning tool going forward. “

McGiven’s meticulousness is one of the reasons why coach Matt Wells asked the Utah native to come back to Logan after spending the last three seasons at Memphis and Montana State. It was a no-brainer for the 36-year-old, who knew the program firsthand after coaching quarterbacks for the 2009 season.

The two struck up talks around the holidays last year after Wells took over, and McGiven said it felt like a natural partnership.

“It was a great phone call to get,” he said. “We felt like we were on the same page philosophically, I had some of the terminology in place. He thought I would be a good fit and ease the transition for the offense.”

Utah State is the second job McGiven has had calling plays for an FBS school after leading the Memphis offense in his second year. Taking over as USU’s third coordinator in as many seasons, perhaps the biggest sign of McGiven’s success is how little has changed since he joined the program last winter.

Wells hired him to help continuity, and so far that’s been the case.

“It’s been real smooth,” Wells said. “He retained some of his knowledge base from when he was here four years ago, and picked up the new stuff real quickly.”

The two have worked on developing the playcalling strategy they want, and working on their communication from the press box to the sideline as they both take on new roles. For a coach as detail-oriented as Wells, doing his old job while working under him could be intimidating. But McGiven embraces having Wells in his ear as an advantage.

“He’s been a sounding board and a consultant for me, and it’s been really, really good,” McGiven said. “He’s been able to teach me what the offense should look like, what the practices should look like, how the game should be called, getting the offense to fit the strengths of the team.”

McGiven was also brought on for his reputation for developing quarterbacks. Diondre Borel led the WAC in total offense when McGiven was coaching him. At Montana State, he helped DeNarius McGhee to a second Big Sky MVP season.

Working with Chuckie Keeton, McGiven said, has been one of the perks of the job. Although Wells and Keeton have a close relationship, he’s managed to cultivate his own relationship with the junior passer.

With McGiven, Keeton said, he’s learned more about blocking schemes and defensive fronts. Their film study has added a little more knowledge to use with his ability. And like many Aggies fans, Keeton hopes that relationship will help take him and the offense to new heights.

“It’s been a great relationship so far,” Keeton said. “I definitely look forward to building it a little bit more.”

McGiven grew up watching BYU, the son of two Cougar alums. He coached there as a graduate assistant for three seasons.

But in his second stint at Utah State, McGiven has come to embrace the Aggies and Logan as his new home.

“I got a good feel for the tradition, the unbelievable support from the fan base and how it just continues to grow,” he said. “I was pretty much born into being a BYU fan, and I sat in section 8 and row 16 as a little kid. But there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to beat them now.”

kgoon@sltrib.com

Kevin McGiven file

• Orem native, went to Mountain View High School

• Graduated from UVU, was a graduate assistant at BYU

• Offensive coordinator at FCS level at SUU, Weber State and Montana State

• Called plays for Memphis during the 2011 season

• Has coached quarterbacks DeNarius McGhee, Diondre Borel and Cameron Higgins

Utah State at Air Force

P Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

TV • CBS Sports Network