OGDEN — As Weber State football looks to build on its unprecedented No. 3 final national ranking and win the Big Sky for the fourth straight season, the Wildcat offense will return to familiar hands.
Matt Hammer will be WSU's offensive coordinator for the 2020 season, the school announced Tuesday evening.
Hammer coached at Weber State from 2006-12, became Weber High head coach from 2013-18, then returned to WSU for the 2019 season.
“We are very excited about Matt becoming our offensive coordinator,” WSU head coach Jay Hill said in a statement from the school. “He is a terrific football coach with a tremendous background and knowledge on both sides of the ball. I’m excited to watch what our offense becomes under his leadership.”
Hammer replaces Dave Schramm, who was WSU's offensive coordinator for the past two seasons and left the staff to coach running backs at Utah State.
Last week, Hill said as news trickled out of Schramm's departure, he was contacted by "10 or so really good coaches I think would do a great job for us" and had "three or four guys on my own staff I think would do a phenomenal job."
Hammer, a Clearfield native who was offensive coordinator at WSU from 2009-12, ultimately got that nod.
"It’s very humbling to know that he has enough confidence in me and believes in me as a person and a coach to do the job," Hammer told the Standard-Examiner. "And you’re grateful for the opportunity to do it again. Not many guys get to go through it, love it, experience it, then have a chance to come back and do it again."
In his first stint on WSU's staff, Hammer coached linebackers, receivers and running backs before taking over play-calling duties. At Weber High, he called the offense for the final three of his six seasons while also overseeing all positions before returning to WSU to coach linebackers last season.
"My time at Weber High, that time made me a better football coach because it made me more well-rounded. Then over the last 12 months of being on the other side of the ball here on the defensive side, watching other offenses and knowing what’s hard to defend, all those things just make you a better football coach," he said.
Hammer said he'll also take over Schramm's position coach duties with quarterbacks and the rest of the offensive staff will remain as is — continuity, he says, that will benefit the offense and impacts offensive game-planning and play-calling.
"If you do things the right way as a staff, 70 to 80% of the game is going to get called similar to how any of your coaches in that room would do it," he said. "The other 20 to 25% of the calls that happen in a game come from your personality, your belief, if you’re attacking or being conservative.
"That second part does leave an imprint on a game more-so than other assistants, but I’m also a big believer that the continuity you have in your staff and how you share that with your players, the better you will be on game day."
Hammer takes over an offense looking for a spark and one with questions at quarterback after finishing last in the Big Sky at 339 yards per game in 2019. Weber State averaged 400 yards or more per game in Hammer's first three seasons as offensive coordinator, peaking at 441 in 2010, before production plummeted in 2012 under new head coach Jody Sears.
The unit ostensibly returns 10 starters, with a handful of other experienced players, while losing graduated offensive lineman Xavier Stilson and with senior quarterback Jake Constantine leaving the program.
"This group of kids and this 2020 team has a lot of makeup of the great offenses we had in 2008 through 2011," Hammer said. "It comes back to the trigger guy in who can distribute the ball to let those guys make plays. We have to do a great job of building that guy and taking the pressure off of him in the way of, ‘these are the things we are going to do, this is how it’s going to happen, now you just have to go play football.’
"I like this group a lot. But if you look at where it’s at and some of the struggles we’ve had in it, we’ve got a lot of work to do. Our guys know that. But I think the makeup and how close it really is, is right there. We’ve just got to continue to plug along and get better."
The move from within leaves a full-time staff position open, presumably a direct replacement for Hammer in coaching inside linebackers.