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USU football: first-year offensive line coach Steve Farmer excited to be at Utah State

Steve Farmer has 17 years of coaching experience, including nine as an offensive coordinator, under his belt. During that time he has never coached west of the Mississippi.

That all changed in February, though, when Farmer was hired by Utah State head football coach Matt Wells as the Aggies’ offensive line coach. He replaced Mark Weber, who accepted a similar position at Fresno State.

Prior to joining Utah State’s program, Farmer spent the past six seasons as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Louisiana-Monroe, where he coached the offensive line and tight ends.

At Utah State, Farmer inherits an offensive line that returns four starters in senior tackles Austin Albrecht and Jake Simonich, along with senior center Austin Stephens and junior guard Tyshon Mosley. All four of those players earned honorable mention all-Mountain West honors in 2015.

These four offensive linemen have combined to play in 118 games during their Aggies careers, including 90 starts. Utah State also returns three other offensive linemen who have collegiate experience with the Aggies in junior Jarom Ioane (13 games played), senior Jude Hockel (five games played), junior Brandon Taukeiaho (three games played), sophomore Cody Boyer (three games played) and sophomore KJ Uluave (two games played).

Following the first practice of spring camp, we sat down with Farmer and discussed a number of topics, including moving out West, his coaching philosophy and his mentors.

How have you enjoyed living in Cache Valley so far?

“It’s been great. I’m just anxious, obviously, to get my family moved and once that happens, it will be wonderful. The people here are excited about Utah State football. Logan and the surrounding areas have been wonderful. More importantly, the way (head) coach (Matt) Wells has this program running, it’s been exciting to be part of.”

What did you like from the offensive line on the first day of spring camp?

“I loved the way they ran around and there was a lot of enthusiasm. Obviously, we were out there with no pads on, so that makes some things more difficult, but I thought they were physical when they were allowed to be in situations. Anytime you come into a new spot as a coach, there is a lot of communication stuff and those kids are picking it up real quick and doing a nice job with it.”

Are expectations pretty high for the offense this season considering 10 starters return on that side of the ball?

“Absolutely. We’re excited and we embrace that challenge. There has been a lot of success that comes before us. I’m excited about those three senior offensive linemen that have been starters for us, and Tyshon (Mosley) is also a returning starter. I’m excited about the way those guys are picking things up and more importantly, the leadership that they are displaying with the younger guys and finding the fifth guy to come in and start. I’ve really been impressed with that group of kids.”

Is there good depth at the position?

“It’s a little early to tell. There is, without a doubt, some athletic kids that are physically able and capable and it’s just, ‘Can we learn it and go execute it?’ which they will be able to.”

What do you like out of Austin Stephens and Jake Simonich, who are both two-time all-Mountain West honorable mention selections?

“I want all of those kids to be first-team all-Mountain West. Offensive line accolades come with success on offense and that’s just a reality. When you win more football games and score more points, people tend to be more excited about the offensive linemen, which I believe those guys are setting themselves up for success. Not only are they working and pushing themselves, but they are also pushing the rest of the room and the rest of that group. Those kids are setting themselves up to have a successful fall.”

How would you describe your coaching philosophy?

“I’m a driven person and I’m going to push the kids constantly. We’re always going to hustle. I want to be extremely detailed. I want to give clear and concise answers and allow things to become black and white, rather than living in areas of gray. That will allow them to play faster on Saturday when the live bullets come, when things are changing on you and be able to have some hard-fast rules to rely on.”

Where did you learn your coaching philosophy from?

“I’ve been around some great head coaches, coach Wells being one of them, obviously. Todd Berry had a huge influence on me and he’s now the president of the AFCA. I was fortunate enough to work for a legend in the Midwest, which is Bob Spoo. He always pressed a point of being clear and concise, so I’ve been very fortunate being around some really good people. One of my most favorites of all time is Nate Kaczor, who is a former Utah State Aggie.”

What did you like about Nate Kaczor?

“He and I were co-coordinators together at Louisiana-Monroe. We just wound up becoming best friends. We carpooled together and just had a great rapport with one another. Our wives are really close and our families are really close. He and I really got to where we were anticipating what each other was thinking and those type of things. In anything you’re doing, whether you’re coaching football or working at a mill or doing whatever, when the people who are in leadership are all on the same line and everything gets streamlined, that’s when successes occur.”

What did you know about Utah State football before you got here?

“Nate has told me things and I had worked with Luke Wells in the past. Through Luke, he shared some things about Utah State with me in the past, just because of coach Wells’ experiences here. At one point in time, Utah State was in the Sun Belt and I coached against Utah State a few times, so I’ve always kind of watched it from afar and have really been blown away by the strides they’ve made over the last five or six years. It’s been incredible.”

What goals do you have for the offensive line group during the spring?

“Our number one goal is to play with grit. In my opinion, you define grit as attention to detail and determination. If we can play with a square jaw and those type of things and be able to communicate and still play physical – we want to play with a brain, but play with our grit, too – then we can be successful that way. That’s the big thing we’re talking about right now. We want to talk about creating and being a group with grit and when people point to us, they talk about us. That may be a little old school, but we want people to be able to say, ‘Hey, those are a bunch of tough sons of guns.’”

Outside of football and family, what do you enjoy doing?

“I’ll be honest with you, I get to do my hobby every day, which is coaching football. It’s always just trying to find that balance between what needs to be done football-wise, whether it’s taking care of the players and those types of things, but also my kids and my wife. You’ll see me up here, you’ll see them up here or you’ll see me with them somewhere watching them play sports and those type of things.”