Grant tasked with ‘re-engineering’ UW’s passing attack
LARAMIE -- Wyoming's offense is in the middle of a serious makeover.
Or as Craig Bohl likes to call it, a "re-engineering."
The Cowboys' head coach said he made strides in that area Thursday, adding the title of passing-game coordinator to current wide receivers coach Mike Grant's plate.
“He will coordinate an aggressive passing game within our offense," Bohl said of Grant, who is entering his sixth season in Laramie. "Mike has been part of our system for many years now and has a great understanding of our personnel. He also has an excellent understanding of the Mountain West Conference and will be a valuable resource for our offensive coaching staff as we move Cowboy Football forward in 2021."
Last week, Bohl also announced that Tim Polasek would be UW's new offensive coordinator, taking over for Brent Vigen, who served in that role and as the quarterbacks coach since 2014. Vigen is now the head coach at Montana State.
Wyoming has had plenty of success on the ground from featured tailbacks like Xazavian Valladay, Trey Smith, Titus Swen and Nico Evans. In 2020, UW ranked No. 14 in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 219.5 yards per game.
Aggressive, however, is not a word that would likely be associated with the Wyoming passing game over the past four seasons:
2020: 9th in MWC, 153.3 yards per game, touchdown pass, 5 interceptions, 46.3% completion percentage
2019: 11th, 136.2 ypg, 11 touchdown passes, 9 interceptions, 46.9%
2018: 12th, 123.5 ypg, 6 touchdown passes, 2 interceptions, 46.3%
2017: 9th, 177.2 ypg, 18 touchdown passes, 8 interceptions, 56%
Josh Allen was under center for the Cowboys during that 2017 campaign that ended with an Idaho Potato Bowl championship. The last three seasons have featured a combination of Sean Chambers, Levi Williams, Tyler Vander Waal and Gavin Beerup at the quarterback spot.
Grant is now tasked with finding a solution to the Pokes' passing woes.
"I understand this program’s ability to be successful and what it will take to reach new levels,” Grant said Thursday in a university press release. “I’m grateful to coach Bohl for this opportunity and putting trust in me and expanding my capacity to impact the passing game ... I am excited for this season and am excited to help lead our team’s offense to new heights."
The Cowboys will have plenty of returners in 2021 to help make Grant's vision a reality.
Nearly the entire wide receiving corps is intact, led by senior Ayden Eberhardt, Gunner Gentry and Isaiah Neyor. Alex Brown, Joshua Cobbs and Devin Jennings saw limited action in 2020's COVID-19-shortened season that saw Wyoming play just six games.
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Chambers, who is recovering from a season-ending leg injury, is expected to be available for spring practice in April, according to Bohl. Williams and Beerup are back, too. Protecting them will be a veteran-laden offensive line that features Keegan Cryder, Logan Harris and Eric Abojei. All five starters are slated to return in '21. So are their backups.
In 2016, Grant's first season leading the wide out group, the Cowboys featured the third-best passing offense in the conference. Allen threw for 3,207 yards and 29 touchdowns. Tanner Gentry was on the receiving end of 72 of those passes and racked up 1,326 yards and 14 scores.
Wyoming's offense converted 90.6% of its red-zone opportunities that season. That was good enough for 14th in the nation. Allen and Co. averaged nearly 36 points per outing, which was second in the MW.
The Cowboys won the Mountain Division and hosted the league's title game.
"I can’t wait to contribute in this elevated role with the players and take on this new challenge with coach Polasek and the rest of our talented coaching staff," Grant said.
The Cowboys will open the season at home Sept. 4 against Vigen's Montana State Bobcats.
Mike Grant’s Coaching History
2021- Wyoming Offensive Passing-Game Coordinator/Wide Receivers
2016-20 Wyoming Wide Receivers
2014-15 North Texas Wide Receivers/Recruiting Coordinator
2013 North Texas Wide Receivers
2011-12 North Texas Running Backs
2008-10 Western Michigan Assistant Head Coach/WRs
2007 Southern Miss Wide Receivers
2001-06 Iowa State Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
2000 Iowa State Running Backs
1999 Iowa State Outside Linebackers
1998 Iowa State Secondary
1997 James Madison Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
1994-96 Nebraska Graduate Assistant
1993 Nebraska Recruiting Assistant