Grimes brings experience to BYU, but none as coordinator
By KAREEM COPELAND
PROVO, Utah (AP) BYU tabbed Jeff Grimes as its offensive coordinator, replacing Ty Detmer after two seasons this week. One of the concerns with the former Heisman Trophy winner was a lack of experience on the collegiate level as he jumped straight from coaching high school ball to the coordinator position.
That's no issue with Grimes - kind of.
Grimes leaves an offensive line and run-game coordinator position at LSU and has coached at Auburn, Virginia Tech, Colorado, Arizona State, Boise State, BYU, Texas A&M and Rice. He was the Tigers offensive line coach during the national championship-winning season in 2010. Grimes has worked with successful coaches in Ed Orgeron, Les Miles, Frank Beamer, Gene Chizik, Gus Malzahn, Mark Helfrich, Dirk Koetter and R.C. Slocum.
This will be the first time he has been the primary play-caller, but Grimes said he's been involved in that facet in the past.
"We'll be a staff that that's going to work really, really hard in preparation," Grimes said at his introductory news conference Saturday. "And long before we get to situations, we'll know what our best calls are going to be, knowing that, at the same time, there'll be a moment where you have to make a gut-instinct call."
The Cougars wrapped up the 2017 season with a 4-9 record and finished with one of the worst offenses in recent school history. The four-win season is just the second for the program since 1971 and the first losing season since 2004. The Cougars ranked No. 124 in the nation this season with 17.1 points per game and No. 119 with 325.2 yards of total offense per game. Both of those rankings are the worst in the last 40 years of BYU football.
Grimes was vague when describing his system and said he'll build the scheme around the strengths of the players. His first goal is to put together the "the best offensive staff that BYU has ever had." There is no timeframe to hire assistants, which could include holdovers from the previous offensive staff.
"In 25 years of coaching, I've been a lot of places," Grimes said. "That can be a both a blessing and a curse. In my case, it's been a real blessing. I've been around some great offensive minds.
"The width of experience I've been able to gain over all these years gives me a broad knowledge base that will allow me to put together the best system for BYU right now."
Grimes stressed building a culture and mindset on offense while being demanding of players. The goal is to build trust with the hope players will go out and give maximum effort. He wants to build a system that's a combination of the best parts of the offense Grimes has previously worked in. Grimes believes in creativity with shifts and motions and wants to force defenses to defend a variety of things, including tempo, formations and personnel groups. The goal is to be balanced.
"I look at the field as a battleground," Grimes said. "If you look at it as a battleground, then you want to force the enemy to defend a broad front and make them defend the entire width and depth of the field. So we'll have the ability to attack the field both horizontally and vertically, both through the running game and passing game."
Quarterback Tanner Mangum is expected to return as the starter, but Grimes has some traits he's looking for from his future signal-callers. He wants them to be a winner and leader that is a tough competitor and commands respect in the huddle. Those types of intangibles are the No. 1 thing he's looking for. Grimes also wants intelligent quarterbacks that can make quick decisions. He also believes an athletic quarterback adds to the offense, but wants him to be a great thrower first.
"It was pretty evident that Coach Grimes loves his players," coach Kalani Sitake said. "He enjoys his role as a mentor and gets the most out of players both on and off the field. I look forward for him to making that impact here at BYU football."
Updated December 16, 2017