LOGAN – Before spending nine seasons in the NFL, Logan native Phil Olsen was a three-year starter and a 1969 All-American with Utah State. He still follows the Aggies very closely. In fact, he said he will be at the game when Utah State takes on San Jose State in California on Saturday.
Olsen spoke with KVNU’s “<a href=”http://www.kvnutalk.com/9192017-4/” target=”_blank”>Full Court Press</a>” Tuesday and agreed that the last couple of years have been difficult for the USU football program, and that the team struggled in its most recent game at Wake Forest, but said he is “cautiously optimistic” the coaches will get it figured out.
“They know what they need to do,” he said. “Matt Wells is a tremendous coach. The players love him, they’ll play hard for him. They just got to get some things sorted out so that they know who they are.”
He said he is proud that the program was put “back on the map” in recent years, but acknowledged there are still hurdles. He said he believes the team’s biggest challenge has been having to integrate so many new coaches into the system.
“I think a lot of people don’t understand the complexity of putting together a coaching staff,” he said. “After the season two years ago, Matt (Wells) lost six of his coaches. They were hired away from Utah State and made a lot more money by going to work with these other programs. He had to basically replace his whole staff. Trying to get new coaches all on the same page and trying to recruit and get new players, it’s a pretty difficult challenge.”
Olsen said he likes the creativity new offensive coordinator David Yost has brought to the program. He said the players have talent, and that he believes the team will improve once it finds its identity.
“We’ve seen some things this year in the first half of the Wisconsin game,” Olsen said. “Anybody who watched that had to be very encouraged at the way the Aggies were playing, and obviously the way they played at Idaho State.”
The football program has changed since Olsen arrived on campus in 1966, and he said some of the biggest changes are the facilities. He called it a “dream world” compared to what was available for he and his teammates.
“As they recruit and bring recruits on campus they have to be thrilled to see the beautiful locker rooms, the field, the practice fields, the stadium itself, the press box, the weight room – all of these things are very important to the recruiting process and to building a program,” he said. “We’ve got the pieces, but now we’ve got to go out and play like champions.”