Matt Wells Praises QB Garrettson, Awaits Keeton's Return
All he had to do was plug in true freshman Darell Garrettson, who understood his job and proceeded to help USU win six out of seven games to end the 2013 season with a 9-5 (7-1 Mountain West Conference) record.
“I was really proud of Darell,” Wells told FanIQ during a Wednesday phone interview. “He found a way to help us win (six) games and I was proud of his effort. He didn’t do it himself, but this was an 18-year-old helping the team and offense.
“Our kids battled through the season with major injuries on offense and came up short in the conference championship, but all had tremendous accomplishments.”
Garrettson, a two-star prospect and the 94th-ranked pro-style quarterback from the recruiting class of 2013, wasn’t nearly as flashy as Keeton and certainly showed his inexperience.
But each unit—especially the defense—stepped up its game in order to make things a little easier for the 6-foot, 200-pound gunslinger, as the Aggies ended the year with another impressive postseason win over nationally ranked Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl.
“Darell was 6-1 as a starter and that’s one of the most important stats for a quarterback—to lead your team to a win,” said Wells. “He was efficient and took care of the ball for the most part. Played with moxy and confidence.”
Garrettson finished his first collegiate season with 1,446 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions, completing 60.3 percent of his passes. Solid numbers for a quarterback that wasn’t supposed to see the field, but should he see more playing time in 2014, he’ll need to refine his game and continue improving.
That comes with every freshman quarterback—even Keeton.
“We’ll work on Darell and improve his deficiencies,” said Wells. “We know what they are and he knows what they are. We are going to make him a better quarterback. We always talk about competing daily within ourselves, promoting the success of each quarterback in room collectively. It’s been a healthy room for three years and I want to continue that.
“Darell will work on individual techniques, footwork on throws, play-action mechanic and release issues,” he continued. “Fundamental progression just like Chuckie did when he was going from a freshman to a sophomore.”
As for Keeton, well, he just needs to get healthy. Utah State is targeting a June return for the soon-to-be senior, which would be just in time to burn some rust before summer camps begin.
The Aggies know what he brings to the table and are excited for what he’ll do when he gets back. In just five starts during the 2013 campaign, Keeton completed 69.4 percent of his pass attempts for 1,388 yards, 18 touchdowns and two interceptions. He also added 241 yards and two scores on the ground.
“Keeton is a three-year starter and is a dynamic dual-threat that had preseason Heisman hype,” Wells said. “I just want him rehabbing the knee. He’ll start where he left off when he gets back. He’s very sharp mentality and just needs keep focused and continue to grasp our offense. He plays at a very high level.”
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