Bulldog OC/QB coach up for top assistant coach award
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A record-setting quarterback at Marshall, Petersen joined the Louisiana Tech Family after serving as the co-offensive coordinator at Marshall for three seasons in the second of two stints at his alma mater. He came to Ruston with over 20 years coaching experience at the NCAA Division I level.
"Tony comes from one of the most prolific offenses in the country this year and behind that he brings over 20 years of experience," Holtz said. "He has had success as a coordinator in the Big Ten Conference and brings a background of wide open offenses and an exciting style of play. I am excited to have someone with such a strong background join my staff and continue the successful style of offense Louisiana Tech is nationally known for."
In 2014, Petersen guided an offense that was ranked fifth in the nation in most improved scoring offense with 37.4 points per game as LA Tech captured the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl with a 35-18 victory over Illinois at the Cotton Bowl. Under Petersen’s offensive guidance, the Bulldogs compiled a 9-5 overall record and Conference USA West Division title. Transfer quarterback Cody Sokol helped the Bulldogs become the 13th best scoring offense in the country, while Petersen helped lead the senior slinger to national rankings of 11th in passing touchdowns and 20th in passing yards.
In his first season at Tech, Petersen inherited an offensive unit that lost eight starters to graduation with a quarterbacks group that had never taken a collegiate snap. That 2013 season saw four wins with another three games decided by 10 points or less.
Peterson's third season on Doc Holliday's staff at Marshall proved to be his best as he mentored sophomore quarterback Rakeem Cato to an incredible 2012 campaign. The Herd's signal-caller became the first underclassman in Conference USA history to earn its MVP honor and was the first Herd player to win the award since the school joined the league in 2005. Cato led the nation in completions/game (33.83) and passing yards/game (350.08) and finished third in TD passes (37), fourth in completion percentage (69.5) and fifth in total offense/game (352.67). He also led C-USA in pass efficiency (147.1). The Miami native's 66.2% career completion mark (588-of-888) is currently a school record, just ahead of Herd legends Chad Pennington (65.1) and Byron Leftwich (63.4).
As co-coordinator, Petersen's offense led the league in scoring offense, passing offense, total offense, pass efficiency, third down conversions and first downs. In the latter two categories, Marshall ranked second nationally.
"I am really excited to join the Louisiana Tech Family," Petersen said. "This is a great program that has done well with a wide open offense. I am excited to continue the standard that has been set and to run a system that was similar to our style of play at Marshall. I look forward to doing everything I can to keep it rolling. I know we lost some senior playmakers but we also have a lot of players ready to take their spot. My goal is to keep this offense high in the national rankings like it has been."
Prior to his second stint at Marshall, Petersen spent the 2009 season as the assistant head coach and wide receivers coach at the University of South Dakota. He spent the previous two seasons as quarterbacks coach at Iowa State University.
Under Petersen, Iowa State quarterback Bret Meyer finished his Cyclone career in 2007 with school record totals for passing yards and total offense.
Prior to coaching at Iowa State, Petersen coached at the University of Minnesota. Petersen served as co-offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and eventually the passing coordinator at Minnesota.
Quarterback Bryan Cupito set the new all-time leading passing mark under Petersen. In 2006, the Gophers had a 2,000-yard passer for a fifth straight year, a school record. Petersen also played a crucial role in the progress of Asad Abdul-Khaliq at Minnesota as the quarterback rewrote the Gophers' record books.
During Petersen's eight seasons in his first stint at Marshall, the Thundering Herd qualified for the postseason eight straight times, winning national championships in 1992 and 1996 and Mid-American Conference titles in both 1997 and 1998. Peterson served as wide receivers coach in 1992 and helped in the development of future three-time Super Bowl Champion Troy Brown. Peterson served as quarterbacks coach for five of his previous eight years at MU and worked as the offensive coordinator in 1998. In that capacity, he coached future NFL quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich.
As a player at Marshall, Petersen was named the 1988 Southern Conference Athlete of the Year and the Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 1987. A free agent signee of the Minnesota Vikings in 1989, Petersen set 16 Southern Conference single-season and career records in passing and total offense, to go along with six Marshall single-season school marks. He threw a record 35 touchdown passes in 1987. Petersen also set NCAA records for most passes in a game without an interception (68) and for most regular season games (11) with more than 200 yards passing. Petersen also played for the Thundering Herd baseball program.
Petersen went to Marshall after a stellar career at Delta Community College in Stockton, Calif. He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals after his first season at Delta C.C.
Petersen earned his bachelor's degree in 1988 and master's degree in 1995, both from Marshall. He and his wife Beth have three children: Andy, Nikki Nelson and Taylor.
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