As Montana State head coach Jeff Choate feared, the Bobcats are continuing to deal with coaching changes.
Offensive coordinator Matt Miller is leaving MSU to take a position at his alma mater with Boise State’s staff, MTN Sports first reported on Wednesday night. Several outlets reported the move as well.
An MSU spokesman did not comment on the situation but said the program making the hire would make the official announcement in such scenarios.
The move comes after Boise State announced Wednesday previous co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau became the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He replaced Zak Hill, who departed in December for Arizona State. That left an opening for BSU’s wide receivers.
In an interview with the Chronicle two weeks ago, Choate expressed concern about turnover in his coaching staff. Miller’s departure would mark the third coordinator change at MSU since the midst of the 2018 season when Miller was promoted to OC.
Choate said MSU’s next step as a program was increasing the coaching staff’s salaries to maintain continuity, which he said “is a huge piece of this success.”
“I understand that if they’re doing a really good job they’re going to have some opportunities to do some other things,” Choate said of his assistants, “but we want to make those choices really hard for them.”
Choate bounced around several FBS schools as a position coach before landing at MSU. He understands turnover often happens in his profession.
“My job is just to try to make Montana State a really, really good place to work and hopefully they’ll want to stick around,” Choate said of MSU’s coaches. “And if they don’t, that’s a better situation for their family so I’m happy for them. And it’ll create a better opportunity for somebody else. And we’ll find good people here.”
In Miller’s only full season as MSU’s OC, the Bobcats made the FCS semifinals for the first time in 35 years. Dealing with multiple injuries at skill positions, Miller crafted creative ways to run the ball, true to Choate’s preferred offensive identity, with sweeps and in wildcat quarterback formations. The Bobcats were first in the Big Sky and eighth in the nation with 258.1 rushing yards per game. While no MSU player finished the 2019 season with more than Logan Jones’ 915 yards on the ground, eight Bobcats totaled at least 100 for the season.
The Bobcats were sixth in the Big Sky in scoring offense with 32.7 points per game and seventh in total offense with 426.5 yards per game in 2019.
Miller was named MSU’s acting offensive coordinator and the team’s primary play caller in October 2018. Choate named Miller the team’s full-time OC after the end of that season.
After Miller took over, then quarterback Troy Andersen’s completion percentage improved in the final four games of the regular season on his way to becoming a unanimous all-Big Sky QB and an all-American athlete before he moved to linebacker for the 2019 season.
Casey Bauman earned the quarterback job during fall camp, and while not throwing an interception, he lost the position to Tucker Rovig before the fourth game of the season.
Rovig held onto the job for the rest of the year. While struggling early, the sophomore steadily improved under Miller and finished with 1,969 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 61.6 completion percentage.
“I think Matt is a young guy who brings a lot of energy, has played at a high level, very competitive, very organized, very detailed,” Choate said when he promoted Miller.
Miller was MSU’s receivers coach for three seasons and was the team’s recruiting coordinator as well. The Helena Capital standout was a second-team all-Mountain West player and Hawai’i Bowl MVP in 2013 for Boise State, which won the Fiesta Bowl his senior year.
Following an injury-shortened NFL career with the Denver Broncos, Miller became an offensive quality control assistant at BSU in 2015 when the team won the Poinsettia Bowl before coaching MSU’s receivers in 2016.
Choate had said in the past that Miller, 28, is ambitious, bright, has a strong work ethic and relates well to players. Despite his age, Miller was respected by the Bobcats as a coaching figure.
“I think he’s a rising star in the profession,” Choate said in 2018.