Barnum keeps the band together; Kraght listed as backup QB

By Scott Hood  Sep 8 2016, 7:37 pm — Leave a comment
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Bruce Barnum learned in the offseason how popular football coaches become when their team wins.

After Barnum and his staff of 10 assistants led Portland State into the FCS playoffs and a second-place finish in the Big Sky Conference, the Vikings’ second year head coach fielded numerous inquiries from FBS and FCS programs asking for permission to speak with a specific assistant about a job opening.

Yet, somehow Barnum managed to keep the band together for the 2016 season, making Portland State possibly one of the few FCS program nationally to return every assistant coach to the fold.

Stability? Overflowing.

“If I can keep that continuity. . .they did it last year, I just threw out the footballs, made everybody laugh, kept the fights to a low roar, bought the food and kept everybody happy on the buses,” Barnum joked. “(Seriously), having them all back is great. It shows I have great coaches.”

Gauging interest by the type of programs seeking permission from Barnum to interview, perhaps the most popular Vikings assistant after last season was special teams coordinator and running backs coach Nick Whitworth, one of the promising up-and-coming coaches in the profession.

Whitworth interviewed with Utah State of the Mountain West Conference, and was a finalist for the opening. He didn’t get the job, but Whitworth left a lasting impression on Utah State head coach Matt Wells.

“I would walk into their offices and tell them they had an interview with this school because this guy called, so call him right away,” Barnum said. “I definitely want them to better their careers. After Nick’s interview, Coach Wells at Utah State called me. Nick wasn’t chosen, but he (Wells) told me that even though they didn’t choose him, it was very close and he wanted me to know what a great one I had. That was cool. That showed the respect my coaches have and how good they are. I have them all back.’

Another Portland State assistant was offered a job at another school for more money, but he turned down the opportunity to stay with the Vikings, Barnum said.

“I’m trying to keep them all happy with Nike gear and sunglasses,” Barnum said. “Having them all back gives us a chance.”

KRAGHT LISTED AS BACKUP QUARTERBACK: Perhaps because Portland State now faces three consecutive road games, Barnum was searching for a little more experience at the quarterback position. Last week’s backups – true freshman Davis Alexander and redshirt freshman Thomas Hamilton – have never taken a snap in a PSU game. So, former quarterback Josh Kraght has been shuffled to the No. 2 role based on the official depth chart for the Vikings’ 1:30 p.m. contest Saturday at San Jose State. Alexander is listed as the No. 3 quarterback, while Hamilton is No. 4.

Kraght started three games at quarterback during the second half of the 2014 season (at Montana State, at Sacramento State, vs. Eastern Washington) before shifting to wide receiver and special teams in 2015 when he caught 16 passes and served as PSU’s primary punt returner and holder on field goals.

Kraght is still listed as the starter at the ‘U’ wide receiver spot after catching two passes for 24 yards against Central Washington.

Even though he dropped a notch on the depth chart, Alexander impressed Barnum in his first preseason camp, bypassing Hamilton on the depth chart. As a senior at Gig Harbor (WA) High School, Alexander passed for 2,825 yards and 34 touchdowns, rushed for 1,091 yards and was named Tacoma News Tribune first team All-State and the All-Area Player of the Year.

“He’s a dual threat and I like his accuracy throwing the football,” Barnum said. “He has a big arm. He is more mature than I thought he would be. You’d think a freshmen coming in would have to figure things out, but he’s a pretty smart kid and has good head on his shoulders. And he has won the team over.”

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BIG SKY SCHEDULE (Sat. Sept. 10)

North Dakota at Bowling Green, noon (American Sports Network/ESPN3/Altitude)

Weber State at South Dakota, noon (ESPN3)

Eastern Washington at North Dakota State, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN3)

Northern Arizona at Western Illinois, 1 p.m. (ESPN3)

Bryant at Montana State, 1 p.m. (Altitude 2)

Portland State at San Jose State, 1:30 p.m. (Streaming on Mountain West Network)

Montana at Northern Iowa, 2 p.m. (ESPN3)

Idaho State at Colorado, 2:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)

Northern Colorado at Abilene Christian, 4 p.m.

San Diego at Cal Poly, 4 p.m. (

Southeastern Louisiana at Southern Utah, 5 p.m. (

Southern Oregon at UC Davis, 6 p.m. (

Sacramento State at Fresno State, 7 p.m. (Mountain West Network)






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