CFB: New coach takes over Boise State defensive duties
BOISE, Idaho — When Boise State head coach Chris Petersen went shopping for a new defensive coordinator, he moved quickly and looked no further than his own cadre of assistants.
Petersen promoted Pete Kwiatkowski this week to take charge of the Broncos defense, a unit that ranked 14 in the nation last year in total defense and has been one of the stingiest in the Western Athletic Conference the last five seasons.
Kwiatkowski, a former Bronco player and leader of the defensive line since 2006, takes over for Justin Wilcox, who helped Petersen compile a 49-4 record the last four years but moved on this week to take the top defensive job at Tennessee.
Petersen says he expects Kwiatkowski to put his own stamp on the Bronco defense, but opponents shouldn't expect any major makeovers when the Broncos take the field next season.
"Pete was a slam dunk," Petersen said. "Change if done right, correctly can be to the benefit of everybody."
Petersen said he would begin searching for a new defensive line coach, but suggested Kwiatkowski may also stay in charge of the defensive line.
Kwiatkowski, 43, graduated from Boise State in 1990 and was a consensus I-AA All-American defensive lineman in 1987 and is a member of the Boise State Hall of Fame. Before being hired by Petersen four years ago, Kwiatkowski served as an assistant at Eastern Washington and as defensive coordinator at Montana State from 2000-05.
The biggest change, Kwiatkowski said, will be the reality that all defensive decisions rest with him alone.
"I'm hoping that the 20-something years of coaching has prepared me to handle the stress better than I did when I was a younger coach," Kwiatkowski said. "I was a little more like Justin (at Montana State), even the wins, when they weren't pretty, I took them hard."
At least he inherits a staff and core group of players who know something about playing defense.
The Broncos led the WAC in total defense and scoring defense last year, then befuddled TCU's high-scoring offense in a 17-10 victory in the Fiesta Bowl that left Boise State with a perfect record. The Fiesta Bowl performance may have helped Wilcox land his new job in the SEC, considered to be college football's best conference.
"It will be a smooth transition, probably as smooth as it could have went," said Broncos defensive backs coach Marcel Yates, who worked for Kwiatkowski at Montana State. "Pete's a smart guy. He already had so much input in the game plan in the first place."