UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | April 17, 2024

ANALYSIS | Paul Peterson relieved of duties at Utah Tech

Paul Peterson, the head coach for the men’s football team, walks on the sidelines during the Homecoming game against Eastern Kentucky Oct. 27. Peterson served as the head coach at Utah Tech for the past five seasons and was reassigned to a new position in athletics Nov. 20. Cora Mark | Sun News Daily

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The Utah Tech University football program starts the search for a new head coach after a disappointing season.

Paul Peterson’s time as the head coach of the football team has come to an end after five seasons. Ken Beazer, executive director of intercollegiate athletics, announced Peterson was relieved of his duties as head coach Nov. 20.

Peterson was named head coach of the Utah Tech football team following the 2018 season. Before coaching at the university, Peterson was head coach at Snow College for two years leading the Badgers to an 18-4 record.

While the first season with Peterson as head coach at Utah Tech did show improvement in the program, the seasons following yielded records that were far from successful.

Peterson’s first year as head coach began in 2019. During this season, the Trailblazers secured the most wins in program history with a record of 8-3 overall and 7-3 in conference play. The 2019 season was also the final season the football program played at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II level.

The program had its NCAA Football Championship Subdivision debut in 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the games were played in spring 2021 where the team had a record of 2-3.

The football program failed to raise to a higher level of play for the 2021 season. That season was the team’s first full NCAA FCS season and a partial first season in the Western Athletic Conference. The team had a record of 1-10 overall and 0-3 in their partial conference play.

The following year, the program had its first full WAC season and had a record of 4-7 overall and 2-2 in conference play.

The current record of the team for the 2023 season is 2-9 overall and 1-5 in conference play.

In an interview with Sun News Daily reporter, Troy Grimmond, from the beginning of the 2023 football season, Peterson said their offense was called “the spread and shred.” The offense focuses on the passing game, and they look to throw the ball and spread out the other team.

While their passing game was strong this season, the team fell short in rushing yards. They were also found lacking on the defensive side with only four of the games resulting in less than four touchdowns by the opposing team.

A pattern of this season was games that started strong, but ultimately, the Trailblazers were unable to finish strong and secure a win.

In an interview with Rod Zundel for SportsVision, following the loss to Southern Utah University to end the 2023 season, Peterson said the team did not have the record they needed.

“When you’re playing really good teams, close won’t do it,” Peterson said. “You have to finish.”

Keeping the same level of play throughout a game is important. Consistency can be the deciding factor between winning and losing, especially against a strong team. Starting a game strong isn’t enough to win; the entire game has to be played with that same strength.

A change in leadership is what the program needs to build the team and reach a level of play that will bring success to the program. There is young talent on the team, and with the right guidance, the future could be great for the Trailblazers.

There is an ongoing national search for a new head coach for the program. No further comment would be made by Steve Johnson, the associate athletics director of media relations, regarding the search for a new head coach.

With Utah Tech’s transition to NCAA Division I athletics, it’s time for a head coach who will build the program into one that can not only compete at a Division I level, but also secure wins against other Division I schools and yield a ranking in the conference that the Trailblazers can be proud of.