PROVO — While BYU failed to qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 2004, Cougar fans will probably be eager to watch the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day when LSU faces Notre Dame.
That’s because new BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes will be coaching the LSU offensive line in his final game for the Tigers. That game may offer a sneak preview in terms of some of the style and concepts Grimes will try to implement at BYU.
Grimes explained at his introductory press conference last Saturday in Provo the reason he’s remaining at LSU through the bowl game is because of “the commitment that I made to LSU and those players there. I had four great years there. I have a strong relationship with (coach Ed Orgeron) and I have a great amount of respect for him and I’m grateful for the opportunity he gave me. I want to finish the job that I started there.”
During the press conference, Grimes expounded on his offensive philosophy.
“I believe in being creative and giving the defense a lot to look at — diversionary tactics like shifts and motions, forcing the defense to defend a variety of things, whether you’re talking about tempo, the way you line up, personnel groups that you have on the field," he said. "I believe in a lot of variety and I believe in balance. You can achieve balance in a lot of different ways. (Washington State coach) Mike Leach talks about having balance in ball distribution.For a team that runs the ball all the time, they talk about balance by giving the ball in a run scheme to a lot of different guys.
"There are a lot of ways to create balance. I look at the football field as a battleground. You want to force the enemy to defend the entire width and depth of the field. We’ll have the ability to attack the field both horizontally and vertically through the run game and the passing game. There may be certain games where we emphasize one over the other. I’m a big believer in taking advantage of what the defense gives you. Typically, when you do that, in the fourth quarter you’ll find yourself where you want to be.”
Grimes plans to return to Provo "sometime shortly after that bowl game."
In the meantime, one of his priorities involves recruiting. The early signing period begins Wednesday and runs through Friday. Grimes mentioned the importance of trying “to get to know some of these recruits and give them an opportunity to talk to me.”
Here are some more interesting comments and tidbits from Saturday's Q&A with Grimes:
• Does having experience coaching at BYU previously (from 2004-06) help when it comes to dealing with the unique challenges or aspects of BYU, including its honor code and the missionary program?
“It certainly gives me more knowledge of the situation. I don’t know that I like to call them challenges, though. It gives me an opportunity to come in with my eyes wide open. Every place that you coach has certain inherent conditions you might consider assets and liabilities. I believe in accentuating the positives and recruiting to that. If I’m recruiting for BYU, am I going to recruit a different type of profile than I might if I’m recruiting at LSU? In some cases, yeah, I certainly will. Is that a challenge? No. It’s a matter of finding the right guy for this place at this time. The fact that I’ve been here before allows me to come in with a knowledge of that and it allows me to come in with an understanding of where our assets are right away.”
• How does Grimes compare recruiting at BYU to other places he’s coached?
“Easier. Your net is smaller because you’re recruiting a smaller percentage of the population. Enjoyable because of the type of kids and families that you’re dealing with. I enjoyed (recruiting at BYU) a great deal. Recruiting is an extension of coaching. You’re just beginning to build a relationship with the guys you’re going to coach a year or two or three years prior to that. The reason that I enjoyed recruiting here is the same reason I enjoyed coaching here. I’ll be honest with you — recruiting for eight of the past nine years in the (Southeastern Conference) will be an asset because I’ve learned how to recruit in the most competitive of environments.”
• Before Grimes began his coaching career, he played at UTEP from 1987-1990.
“When I was a player, I hated BYU. I played at UTEP in the old WAC and BYU was the only team we could never beat,” he said. “I hated them because they were so good. But since my time coaching here, I’ve loved BYU and have such positive memories.”
• Certainly, having coached here previously, Grimes isn’t oblivious to the pressure that comes with being the offensive coordinator in Provo. But he said he won’t be overwhelmed by it, which makes sense because he's spent numerous years coaching in the SEC.
“We’re going to be too busy building a great offense to worry about pressure or influences from the outside,” Grimes said. “I realize that there are a lot of people that have a lot at stake here. That, I recognize — the responsibility to Cougar Nation, to the BYU family, to the administration, and to the other coaches here. I recognize that responsibility and will do everything in my power to live up to the responsibility of the job. But no one will put any more pressure on me and the offensive staff that we put on ourselves.”