2012 Record: 11-2 (6-0 in WAC)
Head Coach: Matt Wells (first time head coach)
Last Bowl Game: 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: beat Toledo 41-15
Stadium: Romney Stadium in Logan, UT (capacity = 25,513)
Home Field Advantage: ranked 7th out of 55 mid-major teams
Conference Affiliation: moving to Mountain West Conference for 2013 season
2013 Schedule Link
Out of Conference: 8/29 at Utah, 9/14 vs Weber St, 9/21 at USC, 10/4 vs BYU
Toughest Conference Home Game: 10/12 vs Boise St
Toughest Conference Road Game: 9/27 at SJSU
2012 Statistics Link
Stat to Fear: 72.4 penalty yards per game
Stats to Cheer: allowed just 15.4 ppg in 2012 (1st in WAC), had 42 sacks in 2012 (1st in WAC)
Advanced Stats (Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking): 24th out of 124 teams
Phil Steele's Returning Starters: Offense: 7, Defense: 7, Special Teams: 1
Key Defensive Returnees: LB Jake Doughty (109 tackles), LB Zach Vigil (105 tackles, 5.5 sacks), LB Kyler Fackrell (87 tackles), DE Connor Williams (6 sacks, 32 tackles) , DE Jordan Nielsen (5 sacks, 35 tackles), CB Nevin Lawson (63 tackles)
Key Offensive Returnees: QB Chuckie Keeton (3373 yds pass, 67.6% completions, 27 TD, 9 INT, 619 yds rush), C Tyler Larsen, G Jamie Markosian
The Aggies will have a new coach this season as Gary Anderson has moved on to Wisconsin. The Aggies decided to stay in house as they promoted Matt Wells. Wells was the QB coach in 2011 and the QB coach/offensive coordinator in 2012. The Aggies are hoping that familiarity continues to breed the success that Gary Anderson had the last two seasons.
The Aggies will be led once again by the dynamic Chuckie Keeton. In his sophomore season Keeton really blossomed throwing for 16 more TDs and doing so at a much higher percentage. Last year, the Aggies had to replace Robert Turbin and Michael Smith. Kerwynn Williams stepped up and filled that role very well but this year the Aggies must replace him. Joe Hill (6.26 ypc and 7 TD) returns as does Kelvin Lee (130 yds rush as a freshman). Keep your eye on JUCO recruit Rashad Hall as he rushed for 1400 yards last season at Contra Costa College. The Aggies also lose their top five leaders in receptions. The leading returnee is Travis Reynolds (25 rec). The Aggies could also lean on the JUCO ranks for help at this position as they have Ronald Butler (also from Contra Costa College) and Ryan Watson both coming in. With losses at RB and WR, the OL should be a strength. The Aggies return two All-WAC first teamers and one All-WAC second teamer. In addition they return two other players that have started double-digit games. According to Phil Steele, the Aggies have the fourth most experienced OL in the country.
Former defensive coordinator Dave Aranda followed Gary Anderson to Madison. Wells has hired Todd Orlando from his most recent spot at FIU. Orlando returns some talent in the LB corps as three of the teams four leading tacklers were from that position and they all return this season. The DL is also in good shape as they return six of their top eight players. If there is a weakness on the defense it's in the secondary where the Aggies must replace one of their starting safeties and one of their corners but Maurice Alexander will return from a one year suspension and should help out at safety. USU had a fantastic defense last year giving up just 15.4 ppg. They have a lot of the same personnel back but do switch coordinators so it will be interesting to see how they perform when you also consider the change in conferences.
If there was a schedule lottery in the MWC, the Aggies won it. They do have to play Boise State but they get them at home and they miss out on two of the top teams in the league, Fresno State and San Diego State. The out of conference schedule is tough with trips to Utah and USC and a home game against BYU but in conference they get New Mexico, Hawaii, UNLV, Colorado State and Wyoming. Not exactly a gauntlet. The Aggies must replace some talent on offense and they are breaking in two new coordinators so don't expect an 11-2 run but I do think this team will have another successful year and will be bowl bound.
Previous 2013 Pre-Season Previews:
C-USA- ECU, FAU, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulsa, Tulane, UAB,UTEP, UTSA
MAC- Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, EMU, Kent State, Miami (OH), Ohio, Toledo,UMass, WMU