Logan • Darwin Thompson knew it would be a possibility before the season started.
The Utah State junior running back’s father warned him that if the Aggies put together a good enough season, head coach Matt Wells would be gone. USU went 10-2 overall and 7-1 in the Mountain West Conference and Thompson’s dad ended up being right.
With a bowl game against North Texas looming and still no knowledge as to which coaches will be on the sidelines for it, the Aggies have been forced to move on as quickly as possible. But there are still some remnants of Wells’ departure lingering with some on the team.
“It was definitely weird just not seeing the people that we usually see,” Thompson said Thursday at USU’s first practice since Wells resigned at took a head coaching job at Texas Tech.
Thompson learned the news of Wells’ departure much like the majority of his teammates did: on Twitter. He said it started to feel real once he saw reports that an agreement between Wells and Texas Tech as imminent. The announcement of a team meeting later that evening sealed it.
NEW MEXICO BOWL
UTAH STATE VS. NORTH TEXAS
When • Dec. 15, Noon
TV • ESPN
The captains on the team have taken it upon themselves to get the rest of the players ready and focused on North Texas amid the coaching shakeup. Senior wide receiver Ron’quavion Tarver said his message to the younger players has been to “trust the process” and “keep grinding.”
“It’s been kind of weird, but it’s our jobs as captains to lead the team,” Tarver said. “We’re pushing through it.”
Thompson credited all the captains for helping the team get over the shock of losing Wells and other coaches “in a day or two.”
Coordinators David Yost and Keith Patterson will go with Wells to Texas Tech. The two are expected to be involved in some way with bowl preparations, but it is unclear if they will be physically on the sidelines. Yost and Patterson are both still listed on the team’s website as the offensive and defensive coordinator, respectively.
Assistant coach Frank Maile was named the interim head coach while the university conducts a national search for its next coach. Former Aggies coach Gary Andersen is one of the names already connected with the search.
But sophomore quarterback Jordan Love doesn’t have time for all that. All that matters to him is the players are still on the team.
“All the players are here. That’s all we need,” Love said. “We’re not really worried about too many coaching changes and stuff right now. It is what it is.”
Thompson said Maile already has leadership characteristics to be a head coach after being an assistant the past two seasons. Thompson added that there is no drop-off despite Wells’ departure.
“The stuff he was doing before [Wells] left and the stuff he’s doing now — as far as coach Maile — everybody’s held to the same standard,” Thompson said.
Sophomore linebacker David Woodward, who was recently named a first-team All-American by Pro Football Focus, thought Thursday’s practice went well and said the players did a good job keeping their energy and focus throughout.
“All the coaches who have stayed have done a great job keeping the schedule the same and the preparation so that it feels like just a normal regular season game,” Woodward said.