homepage logo

‘Those guys are ready’: Dale, Duff take over Weber State defense under Hill

By Brett Hein - | Aug 28, 2021

Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics

Left: In this Oct. 19, 2019, photo, Weber State linebackers coach Grant Duff reacts after a play against Northern Arizona at Stewart Stadium in Ogden. Right: In this Nov. 9, 2019, photo, safeties coach Joe Dale looks on during a game against North Dakota at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.

OGDEN — In Jay Hill’s seven seasons as Weber State head football coach, only briefly did he not also work as the team’s defensive coordinator.

That’s been to WSU’s benefit, no doubt, but the spring season helped clarify some things in Hill’s mind that recently moved him to hand over the reins. The defense is still Hill’s in scheme, attitude and culture, no doubt, but his time calling plays is now over.

Fifth-year linebackers and defensive ends coach Grant Duff and fourth-year safeties coach Joe Dale take over as co-defensive coordinators as Weber State goes for its fifth straight Big Sky Conference championship in the fall 2021 season.

“The biggest reason is Joe and Grant are both ready to be coordinators,” Hill said after a recent practice. “It was time. Those guys are ready and they deserve it.”

Entering his eighth season, Hill also wanted to more fully participate in all three phases of the game, and giving up playcalling duties allows for that.

“With everything going on with COVID and testing and mental health … I felt like I needed to be able to spread myself more out to the rest of the team,” Hill said. “I also wanted to spend a little more time with the offense.”

For cornerbacks coach Andre Dyson, nothing has seemed any different.

“It looks the same, practice is the same. The only difference is coach Hill isn’t in every defensive staff meeting. Other than that, it’s business as usual, it feels like to me,” Dyson said. “They’ve always been on the same page on how they want to call this defense and how they want to operate day to day.”

Both Duff and Dale have called the defense in practices over the last three years. Duff said it’s “humbling” that a coach like Hill would trust him in this role, and that players will look to him for more leadership. Dale said he’s “blessed” and excited to keep the defense moving forward.

“I feel comfortable about what I know going into a game because of the experiences we’ve had as a staff,” Dale said.

Hill said the way Dale, Duff, Dyson, defensive line coach Bojay Filimoeatu and linebackers coach Matty Ah You have worked together helped make the coordinator change easier. Any could call the defense, he said, but Dale and Duff fit the role for what this team needs.

“Grant is extremely intelligent and is very organized and detailed. He’s sharp with what it takes to just have all the things prepared going into a game,” Hill explained. “Joe … was basically the captain of our defense when he played at the University of Utah. He saw things well, he got people lined up, he knows how to study film, and he’s done a phenomenal job with his position groups.

“He’s had two different times in his three years here where both of his safeties were first-team all-conference. That’s unheard of. His guys play for him, he’s intelligent and he’s done a great job coaching here.”

Another element that helps Hill is staff additions going back to spring camp. Dyson, who played 96 games in the NFL, rejoined the staff to coach corners after seven years as head coach at Clearfield High School. WSU also brought on former Southern Utah defensive star James Cowser, who played 22 games for the Oakland Raiders, as a defensive coach in a graduate-assistant type role. He has experience at both the defensive end and linebacker positions.

And Friday, Weber State made official the addition of Gary Andersen as a volunteer defensive adviser. Andersen has 12 years of head coaching experience between Utah State, Oregon State, Wisconsin and Southern Utah, was associate head coach and defensive coordinator at Utah from 2005-08, and has had three coaching stints at Big Sky schools.

As an adviser, Andersen can watch practice, watch film and meet with coaches, but cannot interact with players. A release from WSU said Andersen will be in the press box during games.

“Cowser, he’s ready to be hired right now,” Hill said. “And you put Gary with that group, that’s part of what provides me the opportunity to spend more time on offense. I like what this represents right now. We’ve got to go out and see how it works in a game but it’s been smooth so far during camp.”

As for who will be in the coaches’ booth with Andersen during games, Hill and Duff were coy about exactly how the two-coordinators method will work for Weber State. Hill would only offer that both Dale and Duff will have input on calling plays and the organization of the defense.

“Coach Hill, one of his greatest strengths is he is a very detail-oriented man, down to the minutiae of everything,” Duff said. “He’s got it all planned out, he’s got a great plan.

“My job is not to reinvent the wheel but put my tweak on it, use my talents and abilities, and our players’ talents and abilities, and come out with the best defense we can.”


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)