LOGAN – Mike Caputo was coached by a very familiar face during his last two seasons at Wisconsin. That man was Gary Andersen, and what Andersen got out of Caputo was an All-American safety as well as two bowl victories (2015 Outback Bowl, 2015 Holiday Bowl).
A consensus second-team all-Big Ten safety honoree as both a junior and a senior, Caputo was officially announced as the Aggies' safeties coach on Dec. 18. Prior to his appointment with the Aggies, Caputo was a defensive graduate assistant for two years at LSU, helping the Tigers to a combined 18-7 record, including a 11-5 mark in the Southeastern Conference, and back-to-back New Year's Bowl games.
Following one of the team's practices last week, we caught up with Caputo for a Q&A.
Q: Talk about your first few months on the job as a first-time full-time assistant coach and being a part of Coach Andersen’s staff?
Caputo****: "I love it. I love working for Coach Andersen and I love the guys he hired on staff. Most importantly, I really love the players and people here. There's a certain culture at Utah State that attracts people to want to work and be around here. It's a very positive culture."
Q: Talk about your relationship with Coach Andersen and what is was like playing for him at Wisconsin?
Caputo****: "Coach Andersen and I go back to 2013. The first real connection I had with him was when I wasn't even on the depth chart, playing at Wisconsin, because I had neck surgery in February, 2013. I went into his office, sat down in front of him and I told him, 'I came here to play and I wanted to work.' From that point on, we developed a relationship that led me to where we are now. There's mutual respect between us and I love working for him."
Q: You worked for a former Utah State defensive coordinator at LSU in Dave Aranda. Talk about that relationship and what he shared with you about Utah State.
Caputo****: "Coach Aranda took me under his wing. He taught me a lot of football, more than I even thought I would learn. Dave Aranda kind of cursed me a little bit. He opened my eyes to the excitement of coaching football. It gave me a little bit of a sickness to want to know everything. That was also something I had, and it's a good thing. It fuels my coaching career."
Q: What did you know about Utah State football before accepting this job?
Caputo****: "I knew quite a bit. I played for not only Dave (Aranda), but Bill Bush as well, who coached here, and then Coach Andersen, obviously. I knew that the culture that they brought to Wisconsin, and that sort of coaching style, was the coaching style they brought from Utah State. They said that football is big here, but it's also about the culture and the people. That reminded me a lot with Wisconsin and there's a lot of similarities in that regard. I had never been here before, but when I came, I knew that I wanted to stay here."
Q: What are your impressions of the Aggie defense from what you have seen during spring practices?
Caputo****: "We play fast, which is what we want. From coach (Justin) Ena, coach Andersen and the guys we had last year, we play fast and aggressive. That's one thing that is necessary for a good defense, in any league. It sounds simple, but those are two elements here that this defense had even last year that have carried over with the players. I know there's a lot of players that have left, but the ones returning have stepped up and now they're playing. They took the challenge of taking it all in and they're accepting it well."
Q: Talk about your safeties group and what you have been working on this spring?
Caputo****: "Me, as a safety, playing and now coaching, there's a lot of pride in it for me personally. I owe it to these guys to teach them everything I know and to teach them what's necessary to put them in a successful position, put them in the best spot to become young men, move on from Utah State eventually, not just to graduate, but to move on in life. On the field, it's just coaching them the right way. I'm always reinforcing that positive mentality and to be able to play aggressive and play the game that they love and I love. That's what motivates me to do what I do. We've taken some strides this spring from where we were in the winter and they've improved tremendously."
Q:How did you get into coaching?
Caputo****: "I finished up my playing career with the decision on my own. I knew that I wanted to get into coaching, eventually. I was in the process of transitioning and training. I was in Pittsburgh at the time, which is my home, and I was doing some training with the overall body and the evaluation days. Dave Aranda actually called me and asked me if I wanted to come down to Baton Rouge with him and I told him I would call him right back. I did about an hour later and I knew that was the route I wanted to take. I wanted to get into it eventually, but that was the best opportunity. From there, it went off like a wildfire. I absolutely love coaching."Comment on this story
Q: What do you enjoy doing when you are not coaching football?
Caputo****: "I love history and I'll do anything to go to a historical place, especially on the east coast, but really anywhere. I love American history and Roman nativity as well. Those are my two loves. If I wasn't coaching I would've been an entrepreneur and developing some sort of technology. That's where my life would be."
Q: Do you have any hobbies or hidden talents?
Caputo****: "Nothing spectacular. I can't juggle or balance anything on my head."