5 things that did not go IUP football's way

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Here is part one of a two part entry to wrap up the IUP football season. 

A lot of things did not go IUP's way during its 6-5 season, but here are five of the most important. They're not in any particular order so read and enjoy.

1. INJURIES TO ANDRE HENDERSON AND RORY MARSHALL
Both safeties Andre Henderson and Rory Marshall were on the injured list since the off season so it wasn't a shock to anyone that neither of them suited the entire season. But it was the fact that it gutted the secondary. It caused IUP to reach to the offensive side of the ball with Mike Scott and Tobias Robinson to patch it up. But it wasn't enough as the secondary proved to be the achilles' heel for the Crimson Hawks in numerous games during 2010 including giving up 344 yards to Travis Rearick and Mercyhurst on Homecoming.

2. LACK OF CREATIVE PLAY CALLING ON OFFENSE
I will talk more about the Pat Smith/Bo Napoleon situation a little later, but when Napoleon was reluctantly given the reigns of the IUP offense, IUP Head Coach Lou Tepper and the rest of the offensive coaches went into immediate safe mode with the play calling. This resulted in teams knowing exactly what IUP was going to do whenever it had to football. It was going to pound away with running back Harvie Tuck and if that didn't work, it kept doing. IUP did get kind of creative during the last two games against Lock Haven and West Chester, but by that time it was too little, too late. This made IUP extremely one-dimensional and easy to stop.

3. NO ADJUSTMENTS ON OFFENSE OR DEFENSE
I sort of hinted at this earlier, but when something clearly did not work for the Crimson Hawks, instead of adjusting and trying something else, they just kept doing it. I'll use the Mercyhurst game as an example again as IUP shut down the Laker's running attack, but the Lakers ADJUSTED and went to short passing game to substitute for that. Instead of IUP catching on and move up its defensive back, IUP let Mercyurst get those seven- or eight-yard gains and let it work the ball down the field to 28-27 win. That game was the turning point of the season as it was the beginning of the end of the season for IUP.

4. PAT SMITH INJURY
Pat Smith in 2009 was thrust into the lineup after a season-ending injury to starter Andrew Krewatch. He played hard in 2009, had some growing pains, but seemed ready to go for 2010, but got injured and was knocked out for the season. With Pat Smith, the IUP offense had a good rhythm to it. It had helped IUP win the first two games of the season, but after his injury the offense sputtered. This brings me to...

5. IUP NOT TAKING THE SHACKLES OFF OF BO NAPOLEON
After Smith was injured, there was actually still a bit of optimism, not the panic of losing Krewatch the year before. Word was going around that the coaches had a tough time deciding whether to play Napoleon or Smith in the off season because had impressed so much. They liked his arm, agility and most of all, his confidence. Napoleon had that confidence going into his first start against Bloomsburg. Five interceptions later, that confidence was shaken. After seeing that the coaches wanted anything but to put the game in his hands. They wanted to avoid that at all costs. Thus, killing Napoleon's confidence. Although they killed his confidence, they still expected him to perform, which I thought was unfair. IUP only threw the ball when it had to, which put Napoleon in a bad spot on numerous occasions. What the Crimson Hawks coaches should have done was to ease him along and let him throw short to medium passes to get him in a rhythm. But that did not happen. The only time he got the green light was when IUP was down by double digits and had throw to get back in the game. This happened against Gannon and he threw four more interceptions. Napoleon needs some work, but it would have helped if the coaches had believed in him just a little bit.

HONORABLE MENTIONS
- IUP gave up 31 points to Lock Haven. Yes I said Lock Haven. That was easily IUP's most embarrassing moment in a win this season.
- Mychal Skinner on and off the injured list. The end of a great career that could have been, but never was.


Like I said earlier, there were a lot of things that did not go IUP's way this season, but these are five things I thought really hurt the Crimson Hawks this season. This is just my humble opinion, however. Comment and tell me what you think should have been on this list. I'm sure there is something I left off.


IUP finally won but...

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IUP finally broke the streak. It finally gave Head Coach Lou Tepper his 100th career win. The defeated Lock Haven 63-31. Harvie Tuck and Terrell Washington stood out from the rest with Washington winning PSAC West Defensive Player of the Week with his performance. IUP seems well with IUP. The Crimson Hawks are 5-5 and will have on more week to avoid a second consecutive losing season.

Wait a minute.

Lock Haven scored how much?

Lock Haven scored 31 points?

Really?

No. They couldn't have. They did?

You mean to tell me that the Bald Eagles scored 31 points. They averaged 10 points per game into the IUP game. Oh, I know how, IUP's secondary that's how.

IUP did a lot of things right against Lock Haven. It gained 278 yards and forced LHU into four turnovers.

What it did wrong was allow a team that hasn't won a game since November of 2007, and is statistically the worst offense in the conference to score 31 points.

I must give Lock Haven credit, however. The Bald Eagles didn't even compete against IUP last season and showed marginal improvement this season. They played as hard as they could and never stopped playing until the clock read triple zeros. Lock Haven actually looked like a football this year as to usually looking like a bunch of guys who just so happen to have helmet and shoulder pads on. Lock Haven's only problem was that it was overmatched.

Usually a game that ends with a score of 63-31 it is more of indictment of how bad the losing team is, but in this case it is indictment of how much IUP has to work on. Although Lock Haven has improved, it should be good enough to score 31 points against anyone.

Even when IUP wins, it still finds way to lose. The Hawks should be happy about the win as they haven't had much to be happy about since they played Slippery Rock, but they should take a long look at themselves. Soul searching if you will because if Lock Haven scored 10 points, it would have been something of note, but it scored triple that amount.

The secondary was beat on numerous occasions where the Bald Eagles just caught them napping.

The last hope of IUP avoiding back-to-back losing season for the first time since that faithful 1982 season is next week when it hosts West Chester. I can almost promise West Chester is better than Lock Haven.

Needless to say, IUP has a lot of work to do.

Players only do what they're told

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All indications were that IUP to be dismantled by Cal U before its game last week. That didn't happen. As I watched the game, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. For one, Cal U's stadium is beautiful to look at. I

 just couldn't believe how good it looked, but I digress. Then, IUP was actually competetive. Not only were it competetive, it was soundly beating the Vulcans in literally every facet of the game. The Crimson Hawks were beating the Vulcans on offense, defense, special teams, turnovers, penalites and even coaching.

For the first time all season, IUP was outcoaching the opposition. IUP used an offesnive touchdown, a blcoked punt for a touchdown, a sack in the end zone for a safety to make Cal U seem disinterested and confused. The Hawks were up 15-0 midway through the third and it seemed as though we had a mammoth upset on our hands. Then something happened. The Crimson Hawks simply let up.

Against Edinboro, IUP got up 15-0. Instead of trying to score one more touchdown to put the game away, IUP chose to run the clock out and hope for the best. Since the running game was running on all possible cylinders, it worked.

The only problem with that plan against Cal U is that, the Vulcans are a much better team the Fighting Scots. Just as they were capable of doing, the Vulcans cameback and won in overtime 18-15. It wasn't as if IUP tried time after time to put them away and the Cal U defense just prevented that.

The Crimson Hawks stopped playing the Vulcans and started playing against the clock. Cal U was shocked that it gave IUP a win and it seemed it didn't want it, so Cal U said that they'll gladly take it back and they did.

I've said this a million times since this game: IUP had Cal U dead to rights.

They were done.

Finished.

They didn't even want to be there. The coaches at IUP, however, once again put their players in a position they couldn't.

That's not the fault of the players, that's the fault of the coaches.

The players didn't make the decision to let up, they continued to play hard.

That was the decision of the coaches.

I'm no genius, but even I knew that plan was not going to work and if you're going to lose to someone, you lose guns blazing, not at the mercy of the clock or the inevitable comeback. If IUP scored one more point touchdown or kicked one more field goal, it would have won the game. No doubt in my mind.

But the coaches and their impeccable wisdom seemed to think that a 15-point lead against one of the best teams in the nation with a quarter and a half to go is enough to win. But what do I know? .

Those winds of change may be coming very soon...

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IUP Head Coach Lou Tepper said a lot of things on the record during his press conference Tuesday. He said the basic things a coach says after losing two in a row. That wasn't the story. The story was what he said off the record, while my recorder was turned off and my pen was in my pocket that was the real story.

A fellow reporter asked Tepper about his job security and whether he was worried about it. Tepper responded by saying, "Absolutely not."

He continued to say: "I am commanded by my faith not to have any fear. I don't have any fear. If the Lord wants me here, there ain't nobody around that's getting me out, and if he doesn't want me here, it doesn't matter if I want to be here."

Tepper hinted at problems outside of football being the reason for IUP's fast fall from grace.

"There's a reason for this, not just coaching, and I'm not at liberty to say anything now," he said. "I may be in the future, but this didn't happen overnight to have the situation that we're in."

What Tepper meant by him being able to say something in the future remains to be seen.

None of what Tepper said after this press conference can be confirmed by anyone but three people and I'm one of them.

If Tepper thought things were bad Tuesday, I could only imagine how he felt after IUP's beat down at the hands of Gannon Saturday, 45-17. IUP committed five turnovers, four of which came from the arm of quarterback Bo Napoleon.

IUP's loss to Gannon was its third in a row and could very easily turn into four in a row by this time next week when the Crimson Hawks travel to PSAC West juggernaut Cal U (7-1, 4-1) who is coming off of a surprising loss to Mercyhurst Saturday, 31-21. The Vulcans will more than likely look to take out its frustrations of the loss on the fledgling Crimson Hawks.

It may not have started overnight, but IUP football is in a free-fall with no bottom in sight.

Tepper did bring up a lot of valid points as to why it has occurred, but in my opinion, he is not out of the clear.

The people that Tepper was able to recruit have not panned out for one reason or another. He has made questionable in-game decisions time after time. The way he has handled the maturation, or lack their of, has proved tumultuous thus far and could get worse. I failed to mention IUP's last game of the season at home against currently undefeated Kutztown.

Tepper has made his fair share of mistakes, but he really hasn't had the help from the administration that he has needed to make this team into a contender. To steal a saying from Bill Parcells, he has not been allowed to shop for the groceries to cook a good meal with.

Tepper's questionable decisions coupled with what he said off the record have created the perfect storm for IUP's football program to implode right before our very eyes.

It has not been pretty to watch and it will not get any prettier.

 

Sign of things to come?

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IUP's 21-14 loss to Clarion Saturday was its second consecutive defeat at home. The next two games for the Crimson Hawks is not going to get any easier for them.

The Hawks will travel to both Gannon and juggernaut Cal U. IUP's two-game skid could very easily turn into a four-game nightmare.

IUP isn't doing itself any favors by not handing some of the reigns over to quarterback Bo Napoleon.

Napoleon had another modest game. He completed 16 of 29 passes for 169 yards and threw two touchdowns, but the coaching clearly want the running game to win the game for the Hawks. The only problem is, everyone else knows it, too.

It's nothing wrong with using the running game to set up the pass and when you have a bruising back like Harvie Tuck, that is an ideal strategy. But the point is to do until the defese starts focusing on the run, stack nine or 10 men in the box, and beat the defense with the passing game.

Watching the game against Clarion, however, the IUP coaches forgot about the passing part.

By the time the coaches put the game into Napoleon's hands, it was too little, too late.

The Hawks were down two scores with little time left in the game

IUP was forced to switch to a no-huddle attack, which surprisingly worked. Maybe the coaching staff should take not of this.

When Napoleon is given a chance to make consecutive throws and get into a rhythm, he seems to have some success. I'm not saying that he should be throwing the ball 40 or 50 times, but the coaching staff can not continue to play scared with the passing game. It worked against a bad defense against Edinboro, but teams will eventually figure out that Tuck is the go-to guy and shut him down.

Case in point was when had to convert a fourth-and-literally inches. With Tuck and Darryl Herod in the backfield, this should have been a given, but Tuck was stopped short. One word: inexcusable.

If not, expect more of the same from IUP, losing.

By the way, the IUP defense really let the team down against Clarion in the fourth quarter. The unit had a very good outing for three quarters with the standout performer being Mike Gee with six tackles and two sacks of Indiana native Ben Fiscus.

But when IUP needed stops the most, it folded like a bad poker hand.

Three plays after the Clarion defense stuffed Tuck on fourth down, the IUP defense parted like the Red Sea and let Alfonso Hoggard run 69 yards for the final nail in IUP's coffin.

After this stretch of games, IUP's season could very easily be buried right along with it.

Adjustments Anyone?

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IUP lost on its Homecoming for the second consecutive season.

Losing on your own Homecoming is embarassing enough for IUP, but its the way the Crimson Hawks lost to PSAC West foe Mercyhurst is what I am focusing on in this edition of Hawks Vision.

IUP (4-2, 2-1 in PSAC West) lost to a good team in Mercyhurst (4-2, 2-1 in PSAC West), but the Crimson Hawks had the Lakers dead to rights on a few occasions.

IUP built on an early 10-0 lead on the strength of a 70-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage from Bo Napoleon to Mychal Skinner.

IUP's defense completely dominated the line of scrimmage and shut down Mercyhurst's running game that was the PSAC's second-best going into the game. Mercyhurst, realizing that its running game was not going to get it done against the Hawks made adjustments.

Yes I said adjustments. As simple as it seems for the Lakers to make adjustments, it seemed very difficult for IUP to do the same.

Mercyhurst simply went from using its running game as the main option to using it simply to keep IUP's defense honest. Its substitute for the running game was a short passing game.

Mercyhurst took advantage of IUP's lack of physicality in the secondary on Mercyhurst's receivers.

The Lakers simply had its receivers stop at the first down markers, turn around and make the reception. They used this strategy to gain 344 yards through the air.

How did this happen? IUP didn't make adjustments.

IUP had a 27-21 lead late in the fourth quarter and gave the ball back to the Lakers with 1:46 left in the fourth quarter - plenty of time for Mercyhurt's offense to use its short passing game to take back the lead.

By this time, everyone in the stadium knew what the Lakers were going to do and that was dink and dunk their way down the field. I believe the IUP coaching staff knew this as well, but no one could tell as the staff used the same strategy it had used the entire game and that was wait for Mercyhurst to make a mistake. Mercyhurst never made that mistake and won scored a touchdown on yet another short pass.

If IUP had lost because Mercyhurst was the better team, its not much I could harp on. But that is not the case. IUP lost because it didn't make any adjustments at any point of the game on defense. That's not the fault of the players. They're just doing what they are told.

That is the fault of the coaches. That is what they are there for. Coaches use halftime and what they have seen during the game and make the necessary adjustments, Lou Tepper and his staff seemingly failed to do so.

For IUP's sake, adjustments need to be made and fast. One more loss for the Crimson Hawks could end all hope of a possible NCAA tournament berth.

Don't lose the game Bo!

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Two weeks ago, Indiana University of Pennsylvania quarterback Bo Napoleon played a terrible game. He threw five interceptions, tried to do too much and contributed to IUP being beaten to a pulp 47-20 at the hands of Bloomburg.

Going into the game against Slippery Rock this week, I didn't expect for the IUP coaches to put the ball in Napoleon's hands much. I picked IUP to win on IUP-TV, but I picked them to win by just plain luck. That was my analysis. IUP will win by luck.

After the game Saturday, I was proven right. The IUP coaches did not put the game in Napoleon's hands. He only threw the ball 15 times and amassed a mere 79 yards. Very modest numbers to say the least. As a matter of fact, they shuttered to the thought that Napoleon would have to use his arm to beat Slippery Rock. So much so that IUP Head Coach Lou Tepper even admitted it after the game. Something else I didnt expect after the game was the fact the IUP won - and won by more than luck.

IUP put the game into its defense's hands and handled The Rock 17-0.

Now a 17-0 win isnt the most impressive thing in the world, but the fact that it was done by essentially not trusting your starting quarteback makes it kind of impressive.

According to Tepper, when IUP went up 10-0 in the fourth quarter after a Craig Burgess field goal, the already conservative gameplan became even more conservative. Almost to the point the Crimson Hawks looked like uber Republicans.

"We just didn't want to screw up on offense," Tepper said. "We couldn't afford a turnover. We didn't want to put our game in a position to hurt us."

Although I was somewhat impressed with how IUP won. I still find something wrong with the way the team won.

Let's be honest, Slippery Rock's undefeated record was a little misleading. It was not indicative how that team really is. The Rock is not that good.

IUP will play much tougher opponents the rest of the way, including Edinboro this week on the road no less. Not to mention California University of Pennsylvania also on the road.

How can this team expect to continue to win against stiffer competition if they openly do not have confidence in its starting quarterback?

Napoleon is young and can use all the confidence instilled in him as possible especially after the way he played against Bloomsburg, but why would the head coach openly say to the media that he and the rest of the staff didn't want Napoleon to hurt them by doing what he is supposed to do - throwing the football.

Not having confidence behind closed doors is one thing. Not having confidence in him during the game with the play selection is another thing. But to tell the media that you didn't want your quarterback to blow a two-possession lead is very counter productive. in my humble opinion.

I understand that injuries are the only reason why Napoleon is playing, but thats even more reason to instill confidence in him. Becasue after him, IUP has an even less experienced quarterback in Jared Buck who the team didn't even want to take snap this season.

IUP can beat teams like Slippery Rock without trusting its quarterback, but when it goes to Cal U and Edinboro, it will require that IUP put some faith in Napoleon or IUP will suffer the same mediocre season it had a year ago.

In the event that mediocre season happens, the winds of change will be upon us.  

Intro

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My name is Vaughn Johnson. I am going to give readers an inside look at IUP sports. I spent two years as sports editor of IUP's student newspaper, The Penn, and established a number relationships and sources within the athletic department. I am currently the editor in chief of The Penn.

My promotion to editor in chief gave me so many responsibilities that I gave up all of my beats. But the more I tried to step back from reporting on athletics, like the drug that it is, it kept calling me back. I'm not ashamed to say that I am addicted. Since all of my beats have gone to people who could use the much-needed experience, I don't have much to report on until I decided to start a blog about the one thing I'm addicted to - covering sports.

My mission now with this blog is not just report the news and happenings, but to also give you my humble opinion on such subjects. I will not pull any punches. I am here for the readers and the readers only. The point of this blog is to let the fans of IUP athletics know what is really going on with their beloved Crimson Hawks no matter the sport.

I can give glowing praise or I can be the biggest cynic in the world, but I will only give that when it is warranted, when it is deserved. I will not speak out of hyperbole nor will I understate.

My mission is to not only give information, but to educate people on college sports, which is a completely different world unto itself. Ladies and gentleman, prepare yourself for the best seat in the house - Hawk Vision

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