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.
- 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.