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Housewright confirmed as OC; Vigen expected to keep offensive staff

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Another new offensive coordinator will get a chance to call plays for the Bobcats next fall.

Since the beginning of the 2010 season, the Montana State football program has been home to eight offensive coordinators, including Justin Udy, an up and coming young coach who was hired following the 2019 season by former head coach Jeff Choate but has not yet coached a game at MSU because of the ongoing global pandemic.

On Friday, Skyline Sports confirmed from a source connected to the Bobcat football program that new head coach Brent Vigen will retain his offensive staff, including Udy, but that the OC position will be filled by Taylor Housewright. Football Scoop reported earlier this week that the Oregon offensive analyst will join Vigen’s staff as the offensive coordinator.

Former Texas Tech offensive assistant Justin Udy/by Texas Tech Athletics

Udy will be retained as the wide receivers coach, per the source. MSU running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Jimmy Beal, who was hired following the 2019 season like Udy and has still not coached a game at his alma mater, will also be retained as will offensive line coach Brian Armstrong and tight ends coach Nate Potter.

The source also confirmed that B.J. Robertson, who fills multiple roles for Montana State including as the director of high school operations and as the special teams coordinator, will also be retained.

A decision on the defensive staff will come soon, the source said. Linebackers coach Bobby Daly, cornerbacks coach Kyle Risinger and defensive line coach Byron Hout remain. Defensive coordinator Kane Ioane, who also coached safeties in 2019, took a similar position at Boise State last month.

Choate employed a total of five offensive play callers in his four seasons and five years guiding the Bobcat football program. Between 2010 and 2015, Rob Ash employed Brian Wright, Kevin McGiven and Tim Cramsey as offensive coordinators.

Former MSU and North Dakota State offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham/by Brooks Nuanez

Courtney Messingham left after Choate’s first season in 2016 to take the same position on Chris Klieman’s staff at North Dakota State. He is now at Kansas State.

Armstrong, Montana State’s offensive line coach all four seasons under Choate, was the play caller at the beginning of the 2017 season before passing coordinator Bob Cole became the primary play caller. Choate made a move to reassign Armstrong to offensive line only and promote wide receiver coach Matt Miller to offensive coordinator in the middle of the 2017 season. Cole was let go following MSU’s bye that year.

Miller spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons as MSU’s offensive coordinator, helping guide a Bobcat offense that ran the ball with more authority than just about any team in the FCS. Following the 2019 season, Miller, a Helena native, left to become the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach at Boise State, his alma mater.

Enter Udy, who spent 2015 until 2017 as the offensive coordinator at South Dakota Mines before making stops as a graduate assistant on Matt Wells’ staff at Utah State in 2018 and with Wells and highly regarded offensive mind David Yost at Texas Tech in 2019.

Taylor Housewright

Housewright, 32, played quarterback at Ashland Univeristy, finishing fifth in the voting for the Harlon Hill Trophy (the Division II Heisman) in 2012. Housewright spent two years as a graduate assistant at Miami (Ohio) before becoming the wide receivers coach at Division III Wittenberg in 2015.

Housewright coached wide receivers in 2016 and defensive backs in 2017 at his alma mater. He served as an offensive graduate assistant working with running backs and tight ends during his lone season with the Cowboys, after initially joining the Pokes as an offensive quality control coach in the spring of 2018. Vigen has spent the last seven seasons as the offensive coordinator at Wyoming.

Housewright helped coach first-team All-Mountain West Conference pick Nico Evans, who led the conference and finished fourth in the nation in rushing yards per game (132.50). Evans also finished second in the league in rushing yards (1,325) while ranking 13th nationally.

It remains to be seen who will coach quarterbacks, although Vigen has great pedigree in developing signal callers. MSU’s new head coach had a hand in the development of Brock Jensen, Carson Wentz and Easton Stick at North Dakota State along with Josh Allen at Wyoming.

Montana State returns Tucker Rovig, the starter for most of the last two seasons. But MSU also has Casey Bauman, who has started games, along with North Carolina State transfer Matt McKay as quarterback options.

Zach Bauman

Former Montana State wide receiver coach Erik Frazier took a job with the Tennessee Titans earlier this month. Beal, who played running back at MSU in 2003 and 2004 when Mike Kramer was the head coach, started his coaching career at Rocky Mountain College in 2005, where he spent four seasons.

Beal was a graduate assistant at Texas State in 2009 before joining Jerome Souers’ staff as the running backs coach at Northern Arizona from 2010 until 2018. While at NAU, Beal helped coach Zach Bauman, the only player in Big Sky Conference history with four consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

Beal spent the 2019 season as the running backs coach at South Dakota State before returning to his alma mater. His group will be headlined by All-Big Sky junior running back Isaiah Ifanse, who has rushed for 1,838 yards in two seasons, making him 13th in MSU history already.

Potter was a consensus All-American offensive lineman and a first-team All-Mountain West selection at Boise State in 2011 as a player. He played in 44 NFL games and started six for the Arizona Cardinals between 2012 and 2014 before returning to BSU as an offensive quality control assistant. He as an offensive graduate assistant on Bryan Harsin’s staff from 2015 until 2017 and coached offensive line at College of Idaho in 2018 before joining Choate’s staff and has coached one season at MSU.

Montana State TE coach Nate Potter watches Jacob Hadley snare a catch during practice in 2019/ by Brooks Nuanez

Potter’s group will be led by senior Ryan Davis, juniors Jacob Hadley and R.J. Fitzgerald and sophomore Derryk Snell.

Armstrong, a Helena native and Montana Western alum, is one of the original members remaining from Choate’s first staff, along with Robertson and defensive line coach Byron Hout, who’s retention is still pending.

Armstrong’s offensive lines have been solid to elite over the last four seasons and the 2021 unit has a chance to be MSU’s best since the beginning of the Choate era. The Bobcats return senior All-Big Sky guards Taylor Tuiasosopo and Lewis Kidd along with All-Big Sky junior tackle Connor Wood and honors candidate guard/center Zach Redd.

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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