Much has changed for the Dixie State University football program in the last few months following yet another disappointing season.
These changes include the school unveiling a new mascot, defensive coordinator Shay McClure being promoted to head coach, and the team moving into the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference from the PacWest conference.
Moving into the RMAC carries with it significant positives for the football program, Athletic Director Jason Boothe said.
“It’s a much better conference,” Boothe said. “Competitively, it will get us in a conference where we are only playing teams once, so as we try to grow our program and build it up, we’re going to give ourselves a more balanced and a favorable schedule.”
Boothe also said the conference change will save over three hours in travel time per road trip, which translates into saving money on travel expenses and eliminates the road trip to Canada.
“It gets us in a much more logistically pleasing conference as well,” Boothe said.
The football program is already seeing positives as the change in conference has benefited recruiting. It has allowed the program to, as Boothe put it, “pitch a better product” to recruits, and not having to play teams more than once appeals to both current players and future ones.
The new coaching staff has also been making a positive impact so far. Quarterback Blake Barney, a sophomore CIT major fomm St. George, said the change in coaching staff has made a “night and day difference from last year.”
“Everyone is 100 percent bought in right now,” Barney said. “We’re just trying to get where they want us to be.”
Defensive back Colton Olson, a junior finance major from Spanish Fork, echoed that by saying, “Everyone has jumped on board. There are no individual groups, we’re just one big team.”
McClure said the biggest thing that has stuck out to him this summer so far has been how close the team has been. This level of closeness and camaraderie has a feel to it that wasn’t truly felt last year.
“It’s all about the players committing to what we’re asking them to do, “McClure said. “We’ve got to compete for 60 minutes and finish games. That was something that a year ago we didn’t do.”
Last year, the then DSU Red Storm finished 3-7, with a majority of those losses by double digits. McClure kept using the term “compete” when discussing the goals and expectations of the team.
“We’re going to take it one game at a time, focus on winning our first game, and move on from there,” Olson said.
Barney said the team wants to do everything it can to win the RMAC championship. “We think we can win every game we go into, and that’s our goal,” he said.
The DSU football team opens its season at home Sept. 1 against New Mexico Highlands University at 6 p.m.