Utah Tech football takes on NAU, looking to secure first win

Kana’i Eldredge, a senior elementary education major from Honolulu, Hawaii, is being interviewed by Sun News sports journalist Brandt Faurschou. He speaks about his goals for the next game against Northern Arizona University. Mia Tom | Sun News Daily

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After starting the season 0-2, the Utah Tech University football team will take on Northern Arizona University.

This non-conference away game will be played in Flagstaff, Arizona, Sept. 16 at 2 p.m. Coming into this game, both teams are looking to capture their first win of the 2023-2024 season. 

Last week’s home opener game against the University of Montana didn’t end in favor of the Trailblazers with the Grizzlies coming out on top 43-13. Statistically, the Trailblazers played a game with over 100 more passing yards than Montanas’ offense and had 336 total yards in the game. In the end, the Trailblazers failed to convert and put more points on the board. 

Syrus Webster, a junior marketing major from West Jordan, said the morale is high, and they are motivated for the upcoming games.

“It [the season] didn’t start how we wanted it to start, but also it’s a long season,” Webster said. “It’s all about being able to bounce back and not worry about the game before but worry about what’s to come in the games ahead.”

Webster is one of the team captains for the Trailblazers and was named to the 2023 Buck Buchanan Preseason watch list. He is a key player in Utah Tech’s defense as he led the team in tackles last game with 5 solo tackles and 7 assisted tackles.

The saying “defense wins games” gets thrown around in football. While that may or may not be true, the offensive unit accounts for most of the points scored, and it starts with the offensive linemen.

Kana’i Eldredge, a senior elementary education major from Honolulu, Hawaii, said communication between the linemen is a crucial factor that will lead to the offense’s success.

“The first thing is cohesion,” Eldredge said. “You see a lot of the O-linemen always hanging out together, always being around each other…we want to get everybody on the same page because when we’re on the same page, we’re a really dangerous group.”

There is always room for improvement, and that is what practice is for. From team emphasis drills to one-on-ones with position groups, the Trailblazers are tweaking and fine-tuning their style of play to be ready for NAU. 

Ronnie Walker Jr., a senior sociology major from Hopewell, Virginia, said the team’s running backs are averaging about five yards a carry but are looking to average more while scoring more rushing touchdowns. 

“I think I’ve done well at pass protection, but I think I can do a little bit more,” Walker Jr. said. “So you know, being mindful and running the ball in an open space. Just using my eyes to be able to still make those big runs.”

Winning and losing are part of the sport. As the Trailblazers take the field in Flagstaff, they’ll apply what they’ve learned from the first two games to help them get their first win.