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Say What? Matt Wells Speaks: Part Two

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Utah State Head Coach Matt Wells talks UTEP after some film review, and a few quotes from a pair of Utah State players in part two of Say What? Bowl Edition. Teaser: One Player hands out bulletin board material.....

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

"The more I watch UTEP, one of the biggest reasons for their turnaround is their offensive line and their run game. The five big boys up front come off the football. They get together and do a really good job.  Nathan Jeffery and Aaron Jones are a good one-two punch at running back. One's physical, the other one has some speed and some shiftiness. I think they both run with really good vision. They're a little bit different physically, but they're both in their own right very, very good backs. I think defensively, they create some issues for you because of all the man coverage and all the pressure packages they bring, so we'll have to be on top of our game. Our wide receivers will have to have a really good game in a lot of man coverage, and Kent will have to be really on point."

The other thing that sticks out to me is they have two explosive returners, #6 (Damian Payne) and #8 (Autrey Golden). Those guys can take one to the garage. I mean those guys can go. They can hit home runs in the punt return and kickoff return game. We're going to have to be really good in our coverage units to bottle those two guys up and not let them get started. Because when they get started, they can go. (Golden) is a guy that they use in the offense as kind of a specialty kind of role as a reverse guy and a guy they like to get the ball to out on the perimeter, and he's got some juice. They have some talent, they have skill and I think their big guys do a really, really good job up front. This will be a tremendous challenge for us. They're very well-coached. You can see that they're disciplined. You see that in their kicking game. I think they give great effort. It's always a great compliment to me when you say that, and I mean that, as far as their kicking game, they give tremendous effort. You don't see them making silly plays or mistakes or penalties or anything like that. I think they're very well-coached, which is the other big influence in their turnaround from two wins to seven wins. We'll have our hands full. We need to have a great week of preparation, then when we get there, we'll focus on the task at hand as well as having a good time at the bowl game and all that kind of stuff."

On Autrey Golden:

"He has good vision. He has courage to hit a seam when it's not very wide, width-wise. It's kind of like `Days of Thunder,' when the car's coming through and it's all smoky, and you can't see what's on the other side. You're trusting what's in your ears and your headset, that's what he does. He has courage, and he hits that sucker. You spit him out, and he has some juice to make you pay on the other side, so we have to do a good job of bottling him up."

On Jay Mattox and Special Teams:

"Usually in bowl games and tight games, special teams play a big role whether it's the return game or a block or something where you're stealing another possession."

"He's doing a good job in both roles. He has a good, live leg. He gets pretty decent hang time on it. It looks like to me he places the ball pretty well. There's not a high percentage of return balls."

On similarities between Utah State's 2011 team, and UTEP's 2014 team ending bowl droughts:

"There may be some similarities in that. I hadn't thought about that, but I can see some similarities in that, especially with the location of the bowl game. I'm sure they're going to have a lot of fans there because it's not too far from El Paso; it's right up the interstate there. It was a longer drought for us, being in a bowl game in 2011 than them. They were in one five years ago. But absolutely there are some similarities, especially with the bowl game invite and the location of that. That's a good analogy."

On Jameill Showers:

"Jameill has done a good job. They don't ask him to open it up and throw it like crazy, because the strength of their football team is that running game, those two backs and that tight end. He has some quickness, he throws it well on the run, and he won some games for them. He won seven games, and I think he's done a good job leading them. When the throws have presented themselves, down in the red zone especially, he's able to give them some good balls. I think he's done a good job."

On UTEP's defense:

"I think they're a solid defense. Their `MO' is to pressure quite a bit, and they play a lot of man coverage. They play with one safety back there; they play with zero safeties. At times they have you outnumbered in the box, and so you have to be able to take advantage when you have advantages. You have to be able to take advantage of the numbers. There's going to be times where they call a good play against a not-so-good play, and they're going to come out on top because of those pressure packages they have."


"They're different structurally a little bit. It's more 4-2-5. They play with a nickel. A little bit different structurally up front, but they pressure maybe as often as Hawai'i does. It's just completely different. It looks different, but percentage-wise they pressure quite a bit."

On statement the Mountain West can make by winning bowl games:

"Obviously, if we can all find a way to win, I think all it does is solidify the idea out there that the Mountain West Conference is the best non-Power Five conference out there in America. That's my belief. I'm very, very biased. I think our division is the toughest, also, but if we can back that up by winning games against some of the opponents we're playing, then I think it validates it on a national scene."

 

Defensive end B.J. Larsen

On UTEP:

"Offensively, UTEP is pretty dynamic. They have a pretty good quarterback. He's pretty mobile, not as mobile as some quarterbacks we've played in the past, but he's able to move around. They really like to run the ball, and as a defense, that's what we've been good at stopping, especially in the beginning of the season. We've tapered off a bit toward the end of the season. It's really our job, and a pride issue, to get that back. We've been a top-10 run defense for the last three years, and we want to get back to that status, absolutely. This is a chance to get back to that and prove that we are that caliber of a team, which I know were are and we've proven in the past. As far as the plays they run, they may change it a little bit, depending on how they look at our film, but from what we've seen, they like the read zone and the option and stuff like that. It's really our job to stop them and make sure we're able to keep them to minimum yards, running-wise, so we can make then a one-dimensional team and pass, then we can get our pass rush on. Not that we're counting stats, but we're top five in the nation in sacks, so we'd like to keep that going, and keep that identity as well."

"There's talent everywhere in Texas. They're going to have the size. Obviously, it's a lower-tier university as far as Texas goes, so they aren't going to be as athletic as some of the bigger schools in Texas, but they have the size, so that's something we're going to have to take into consideration. To compare to a team we've played this year, I'd have to go with Wake Forest. Wake Forest had a big offense line, but I feel like we were more athletic and more physical than they were."

"They just run hard. They run down hill. UTEP is similar in nature to Utah State. It's a blue-collar program. You know you get guys that are there to work hard, and they want to get some `W's. They're willing to do everything they can to get that. They're athletic, they're pretty fast, but more than anything, they just run hard, so that's something we'll have to take into consider

 

Wide receiver JoJo Natson:

On UTEP

"They just run hard. They run down hill. UTEP is similar in nature to Utah State. It's a blue-collar program. You know you get guys that are there to work hard, and they want to get some `W's. They're willing to do everything they can to get that. They're athletic, they're pretty fast, but more than anything, they just run hard, so that's something we'll have to take into consider

"They have some good, athletic guys back in the tail end of the defense. I feel like it will be a good matchup because we have some good guys at the receiver spot, as well."

On Wesley Miller:

"He flies all over the field. On film, you can automatically tell who he is just by how he plays. Every tackle he's there or he's around the tackle. We've been scheming up around him all week. I feel like we have a pretty good game plan. We're going to get after him, but at the same time, we have to play around the offense and go from there. We should have a productive day on offense."

"I know their punt team is going to keep it away from me, but the coaches have been getting us ready all week, and finding ways to try to hold up the punt team to try to get me loose on punt return. I'm excited for special teams this week as well as offense."