Cowboys Return 18 Starters, Including 9 on Offense, 8 on Defense and 1 on Special Teams
Brown Team, Featuring the No. 1 Defense, Will Challenge Gold Team With No. 1 Offense
Brent Vigen took over as Wyoming’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2014 and will enter his second season in that role in 2015. He will be entering his 18th year as a college coach and his seventh as an offensive coordinator. Vigen’s 2014 Cowboy offense ranked fifth in the Mountain West in passing offense, averaging 227.8 yards per game, and featured Biletnikoff Award Watch List receiver Dominic Rufran, who was invited to a free-agent camp by the Atlanta Falcons following his senior season. Another Cowboy senior, offensive tackle Connor Rains, signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos. Vigen’s Wyoming offense was very effective at protecting the ball in 2014, committing only 18 turnovers to rank No. 4 in the MW and No. 33 in the nation.
Vigen served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at North Dakota State under new Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl from 2009-13. He began his college coaching career at his alma mater, NDSU, in 1998.
Vigen was the offensive coordinator for each of North Dakota State’s three consecutive FCS National Championships in 2011, ‘12 and ‘13. In 2013, Vigen’s offense at North Dakota State ranked No. 10 in the nation in scoring offense (38.7 points per game), No. 7 in rushing offense (257.3 yards per game), No. 14 in total offense (457.5 yards per game), No. 1 in third-down efficiency (55.4%), No. 3 in passing efficiency (164.9) and No. 6 in red-zone offense (89.2%). The 2013 NDSU offense also was one of only 12 FCS teams to average 200+ yards rushing and 200+ yards passing per game. The 2012 Bison offense ranked No. 7 in the nation in third-down efficiency (50.7%) and No. 16 in red-zone offense (89.2%). Vigen’s 2011 offense ranked No. 5 in the country in red-zone offense (91.1%).
From 2011 through 2013, Vigen helped NDSU to a 43-2 (.956) overall record and a 22-2 (.917) Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) mark on way to its three consecutive FCS national titles. The 2013 NDSU squad became the first undefeated (15-0) FCS National Champion since Marshall went 15-0 to win the 1996 title. That 15-0 record by the Bison also set a North Dakota State school record. NDSU extended its winning streak to 24 consecutive games with the 2013 FCS Championship. That tied both the FCS and NDSU records for consecutive victories. The University of Pennsylvania set the FCS record of 24 consecutive wins from 1992-95. Montana later tied the record from 2001-02. The NDSU record was originally set from 1964-66.
Vigen coached quarterback Brock Jensen, who earned Third Team All-America honors from the Associated Press in 2013 and went on to sign a free-agent contract with the Miami Dolphins in the Spring of 2014. Jensen was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2013. He also was named the: 2012 and 2013 NCAA Division I Championship Game MVP; the 2012 and 2013 College Sporting News FCS Playoff MVP; and the 2013 College Sports Journal FCS Playoff MVP. Jensen ranked: No. 4 in the country in points responsible for in 2013 (264 points); No. 5 in the nation in passing efficiency (167.4 rating); No. 5 in passing TDs (34); No. 9 in the nation in completion percentage (66.3 percent); and No. 23 in passing yards (2,793). Jensen set North Dakota State single-season passing records in 2011, throwing for 2,524 yards and broke that record with 2,793 passing yards in 2013. He concluded his career as North Dakota State’s career passing leader, with 8,598 passing yards.
The 2013 Bison offense featured three All-Americans. In addition to Jensen earning Third Team AP All-America honors, offensive tackle Billy Turner was named a Consensus All-American and fullback Andrew Grothmann earned First Team All-America recognition from The Sports Network.
In 2011, ‘12 and ‘13, the NDSU offense featured a pair of 1,000-yard rushers. The 2011 season was the first time in NDSU school history that the Bison offense featured two 1,000-yard rushers and a 1,000-yard receiver in the same season. Sam Ojuri rushed for 1,105 yards, and DJ McNorton tallied 1,020, while receiver Warren Holloway had 1,003 receiving yards. In 2012, Ojuri (1,047 yards) and John Crockett (1,038) each rushed for 1,000 yards. The 2013 season saw Ojuri (1,398) and Crockett (1,277) duplicate their 1,000-yard seasons of the previous year, while Vigen’s 2013 offense also featured 1,000-yard receiver Zach Vraa (1,191 receiving yards).
Vigen began his college coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Bison from 1998-2000. He became a full-time coach in 2001, coaching the NDSU tight ends in 2001 and the quarterbacks in 2002. He remained at his alma mater as the running backs coach in 2003 when Craig Bohl became head coach of the Bison. From 2004-08, Vigen was elevated to passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and in 2009 he was named offensive coordinator and continued to coach the Bison QBs.
He coached two-time All-America tight end Jared Peck in 2000 and 2001. Peck went on to sign a free-agent contract with the Denver Broncos.
Vigen helped to develop two-time Great West Football Conference Player of the Year, quarterback Steve Walker, who earned the honor in 2006 and 2007. North Dakota State was 8th in rushing offense (219.82 ypg) and 19th in total offense (400.09 ypg) in the 2009 NCAA Division I FCS statistics. Running back Pat Paschall led the FCS in rushingyards per game (139.7) in 2009.
As a player, Vigen was a tight end for the Bison from 1993-97. He was part of three NCAA Division II Playoff squads in 1994, ‘95 and ‘97. In 1994, he helped lead NDSU to the North Central Conference (NCC) Championship. The Bison advanced to the NCAA Division II Quarterfinals in 1994 and ‘95 and the First Round of the 1997 Playoffs.
A native of Buxton, N.D., Vigen earned his bachelor’s degree from NDSU in 1998 and completed his master’s degree, also from North Dakota State in 2000. He and his wife, Molly, have three boys, Jake, Grant and Luke. Molly played basketball at NDSU and was a member of the 1996 NCAA Division II National Championship team and three NCC title squads.