clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

A closer look at Utah State's new coordinators

New, 3 comments

Just weeks after losing both their Offensive and Defensive Coordinators Utah State was able to make tremendous hires to fill both open positions. Josh Heupel (above) and Kevin Clune will make immediate impacts for the Aggies.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It was just two weeks ago we looked at many possible candidates for Utah State to fill the holes created by Todd Orlando jumping to Houston and Kevin McGiven joining Gary Andersen at Oregon State. Now both positions are filled with two of the Aggies top targets. In case you missed it, Josh Heupel was just hired as the new offensive coordinator as first reported by Scout.com's Jack McEvoy:

I wrote about the possibility of Heupel coming to USU the day after he was fired:

Great: Josh Heupel, Former Oklahoma Co-Offensive Coordinator

Probably another long shot but Heupel does have ties to the state. He played at Weber State and Snow College, as well as had a scholarship offer from Utah State before heading to Oklahoma where he became a Heisman Trophy runner up. Heupel has been Quarterbacks coach since 2005 and co-OC since 2010. While Oklahoma did have some struggles this year they did finish 21st in points scored nationally at 36.4 ppg. I think this would be a really solid get if USU could make it happen.

One of the biggest reasons for thinking it was a long shot was the money. Heupel had been given a raise a season before being  fired to $550,000 a year. Utah State will most likely be paying him less than half of what he was making at Oklahoma. Utah State did fly Heupel out the day after he was let go, but he left without a commitment. Now two weeks later he is back for good (or till a power five school wants him back).

Heupel has run a pretty balanced attack in his four years as Co-OC for the Sooners. Heupel's offenses put up an average of 36.7 points per game (36.4 in 2014), 202.4 rushing yards per game (261.2 in 2014), 272.1 passing yards per game (203.5 in 2014), 474.5 yards of total offense per game (464.7 in 2014) over the past four seasons. Before becoming Co-OC Heupel was the QBs coach for five years. This is a great hire for the Aggies that should result in an immediate improvement on the offensive side of the ball.

I'm sure most know that that last week it was confirmed that Kevin Clune was returning to Utah state as Defensive Coordinator (DC):

Clune was also written about as a possible DC candidate (the best possible in my opinion) for Utah State:

Best: Kevin Clune, Hawaii DC

Clune, like Maile, has strong ties to Utah State. Prior to leaving for Hawaii Clune had spent the previous five seasons as the linebackers coach. During His last season, Clune helped coach an Aggie defense that allowed just 17.1 points per game to rank first in the MW and seventh in the nation. USU also ranked first in the MW and eighth in the nation in rushing defense (106.7 ypg), first in the MW and 12th in the nation in total defense (330.9 ypg), first in the MW and 15th in the nation in passing efficiency defense (113.2). Additionally Clune coached all-conference linebackers Bobby WagnerJake Doughty,Zach Vigil, and Kyler Fackrell (still at USU). Clune, who has only been at Hawaii for a year, seems like a perfect fit. Hopefully the Aggies can pull him away.

This seems like a perfect match for the Aggies Clune has experience with this team and experience as a DC (Hawaii '14, Weber State '05-'08, SUU '03-'04). Utah State was able to give Clune a substantial pay day, $200,00 a year, to pry him away from Hawaii where he was making $160,000 a year. Factoring in the fact that cost of living in Logan is 44% of that in Hawaii makes the money go twice as far as it would have.

In his short time with Hawaii Clune's defense gave up 26.8 points and 418.2 yards per game as they went 4-9, a vast improvement from 2013, when Hawaii allowed 38.8 points and 494.7 yards a game. With his absence only lasting a year Clune will be incredibly familiar with Utah State's players, schemes, and coaches. Hiring Clune was the best move USU could make, it will allow for an already great defensive to remain consistant and possibly even improve.

Overall these hires show just how committed Utah State University and Athletic Director Scott Barnes is to the football program. Getting (and keeping) good coaches comes at a high financial cost but results they bring have shown on the field and in the classroom. There is only two weeks before National Signing Day but there is a chance Heupel and Clune are able to make a last minute recruiting impact as well. Coach Heupel and Coach Clune are home run hires by Matt Wells and the school. I know I am not the only one to have the following reaction to the hiring of both coordinators.