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Looking back on his coaching past, Taylor Housewright compared creating his own philosophy to artists. They look at other styles and learn from others to forge a new, individualized path.

“Hopefully,” Housewright, Montana State’s new offensive coordinator, said, “my experiences can help these guys accomplish their goals and help the school accomplish its goals.”

New Bobcats head coach Brent Vigen, defensive coordinator Freddie Banks and Housewright virtually spoke with the media on Tuesday. All three shared a common emphasis: Though the Bobcats will have different people leading the program, none of them plan to drastically change its identity.

Vigen knew both Housewright and Banks, which made him feel more comfortable adding them to his staff. Banks was a player at North Dakota State in the late 2000s when Vigen was an offensive coordinator there. Housewright was an assistant at Wyoming in 2018 where Vigen also was an OC.

“I want to have guys on either side I trust,” Vigen said. “That familiarity with both of them as people but also the schemes they intend to run played a big role.”

When Housewright, who was previously an assistant at Oregon, told Ducks offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead about the opportunity, Housewright said he called it a “no-brainer.”

“I trust him,” Housewright said of Vigen. “I think he’s going to do a heck of a job, and I think that’s the biggest thing is working with people you trust and want to go to battle with every week.”

Under previous head coach Jeff Choate, the Bobcats prioritized physicality. This especially pertained to wanting MSU to lean on its ground game and stopping the run on defense. The Bobcats sought out offensive and defensive linemen who would help them thrive in those areas.

Housewright said he intends for MSU to win at the line of scrimmage. He also wants MSU to have a variety of playmakers involved.

Despite a run-first offense, the Bobcats successfully did that in 2019. MSU was eighth in the FCS with 258.1 rushing yards per game as eight Bobcats totaled at least 100 for the season with none eclipsing 1,000.

“The big thing for me is being in the state of Montana and being at Montana State, you’ve got to be tough,” Housewright said. “Football is a physical game. If you’re not physical, you’re not going to be successful.”

Housewright also wants MSU to use play-action to set up pass plays, to identify and exploit opposing defensive weaknesses and to change up the tempo of the offense.

These are all things Choate harped on during his MSU tenure.

“We’re going to run the ball, we’re going to take shots and we’re going to spread it out,” Housewright said. “We’re not here to change anything. We just want to make it better.”

One of the few alterations Vigen mentioned, though, was relying on defensive formations that include four linemen.

In the past, MSU mixed up its defensive fronts. In 2019, Amandre Williams lined up at Buck, a hybrid between a defensive lineman and an outside linebacker. This could likely mean Williams, as well as other outside linebackers, will play more at defensive end.

Banks said he learned plenty from all of the coaches he’s worked with. This includes when he was a player at NDSU, which ran four-linemen defenses.

Banks wants to use a similar defense because it will allow players to focus on more specific responsibilities. Williams, for example, will only have to take care of rushing the passer and stopping the run instead of also having to worry about pass coverage.

“We like guys to really zero in on doing a couple things,” Banks said. “Not saying it’s right or wrong. That’s just my philosophy.”

But Banks also emphasized other areas which have allowed the Bobcats to flourish, including limiting explosive plays, third-down defense and preventing opponents’ best players from taking over games.

But above all, Banks said MSU’s defense will start up front with stopping the run.

“Defense is all about having fun and playing together,” he said. “A lot of things have already been built here. We’re going to tweak some things a little bit, but a lot of things are already in place.”

Both of MSU’s new coordinators have said they also want the players to feel like they have a fresh start. Housewright said he’s purposely watched little film from past Bobcats games so he can gain an unbiased perspective of what players could bring to the team in the future.

However, the conflict for where all-American athlete Troy Andersen will play has already begun. Banks jokingly told media members he wished they were at Tuesday’s coaches meeting because the offensive and defensive coaches are fighting over where Andersen will play.

But Banks was confident Andersen would have some sort of role on defense, which is where he primarily played in 2019. Before he sat out the last month of that season, Andersen was third on the team with 48 tackles to go with 6.5 sacks. In his last five games alone, he totaled 9.5 tackles for loss. He was also leading the Bobcats with seven rushing touchdowns and 6.9 yards per carry on offense.

“He’s a guy we want to utilize in a different couple ways because he understands football,” Banks said. “We’re really excited about him.”

Housewright and Banks want to keep their schemes simple. They intend to modify little and want the Bobcats to remain among the top programs in the FCS.

“When you come to Montana State, you don’t want to stay the same,” Banks said. “You want to improve it and take it over the top.”

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Colton Pool can be reached at or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.

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