LA GRANDE — One of the assistant coaches who helped the Eastern Oregon University football team reach the national semifinals in 2016 is back in La Grande.

Bryan Mills

Bryan Mills

Bryan Mills, who spent last season as the safeties coach for Eastern Washington University, has been named the defensive coordinator for the EOU football program, the school announced Tuesday in a press release.

“His commitment to character-driven athletic programs, his knowledge and passion for the game of football, and his experience as a college coach will no doubt lead our defensive unit to a new level of excellence,” EOU head coach Tim Camp said in the release.

Mills has experience coaching on the EOU sidelines.

The Imbler High School and Pacific University graduate was the defensive backs coach for the Mountaineers during the 2016 season, which includid Eastern upsetting No. 1 Marian on the road, 17-0, in the quarterfinals on the way to a semifinal berth and a final record of 10-3 for the most wins in program history.

“I am extremely grateful and excited to be rejoining Eastern Oregon University and the Eastern Oregon community,” Mills said in the press release. “It’s always been a dream of mine to coach for the team I grew up watching and make this community proud.”

Mills has spent the last three seasons at EWU and had just wrapped up his first season as the Eagles’ safeties coach. Prior to that, he was a defensive analyst for two years. The 2019 EWU squad, which finished with a record of 7-5, had one of the better teams in the Big Sky Conference in passing defense in terms of interceptions collected (12, tied for third), defensive completion percentage (59.1%, fourth) and yards per pass attempt (6.8, second). The EWU defense allowed 266.3 yards per game last season, which was ninth in the conference.

He also was a safeties coach for two seasons at Pacific before his first stint with EOU.

Mills will take over a Mountaineer defense that struggled during the first half of 2019 but improved as the season progressed.

EOU, which went 4-7, allowed 42.4 points per game in the first five contests of the season, and 36.5 through the first six, but finished giving up just 24.2 points per game in its final five games.

East Region Sports Editor

Ronald's primary beats are Eastern Oregon University, La Grande High School and the other eight high schools of Union and Wallowa counties. As an avid sports fan, he is primarily reading about or watching sports when he isn't covering a game.

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