IUP players working hard during first fall camp under coach Curt Cignetti
Published: Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 11:08
IUP Head Coach Curt Cignetti walked into his office Aug. 23, sat at his desk, kicked his feet up and began to talk to the media. On the outside, Cignetti seemed confident and relaxed about his Crimson Hawks, picked to finish third in the PSAC West.
"I don't feel relaxed on the interior," Cignetti said. "We've got a lot of work to do."
The IUP football team has already done a lot of work so far during its first fall camp under first-time head coach Cignetti.
"The kids are working hard. I think they're improving," he said. "The effort has been really good. [The coaches] are throwing it right at them, and they've picked it up so far. We just got to keep pushing through it. This is a tough week for them."
Through two weeks of working and pushing, Cignetti said that he was impressed with all three phases of the team: offense, defense and special teams.
Offensively, Pat Smith has picked up Cignetti's up-tempo style of offense and is firmly cemented as the starting quarterback for the Crimson Hawks this season. Smith is returning after playing only two games last season before missing the rest of it with a hand injury.
Despite having four quarterbacks listed on the roster, IUP played only two quarterbacks in its first scrimmage of fall camp back on Aug. 20, with freshman Anthony Perna being Smith's backup.
The skill positions for the Crimson Hawks have a lot of depth with four running backs all expected to contribute, but the incumbent, a slimmed down Harvie Tuck, is expected to get the bulk of the carries. There is also a good amount of depth at receiver with Roy-al Edwards and a 100 percent healthy Javon Rowan leading the way.
That depth on offense did not spread to the defensive side, where injuries and a lack of bodies have hurt the Hawks so far in fall camp.
Despite the lack of depth, Cignetti said he was excited about the skill of the defense going into the season.
"I feel good about our defensive backfield," Cignetti said. "I think we've got real skill back there, but we're just not real deep."
An option that is still on the table for the Hawks is to bring new players into the program to fill the void.
"I think you're always looking to improve the team if the situation arises," he said.
The injury list has grown since the start of camp, but it isn't something that Cignetti is worried about, as he said that it was normal for players to get banged up this time of the year.
A number of defensive players are hurt for the Crimson Hawks, but safety-turned-outside-linebacker Mark Jackson is the most notable. Jackson hurt his ankle during the team's first scrimmage. Also hurt in that first scrimmage was center Anthony DiPasquale with a knee injury. Both are not serious injuries, according to Cignetti, and both players are expected to be ready by the first game Sept. 10.
A player coming off the injury list instead of going on it is safety Andre Henderson. Henderson injured his shoulder midway through the 2009 season and has not suited up since. Henderson has not only suited up in fall camp, but has practiced with the top defensive unit.
Among the many changes to the coaches and roster will be a change to the uniform scheme for the Crimson Hawks. After spending the final two seasons under former Head Coach Lou Tepper in a new uniform design, Cignetti opted to take the team back to its roots and put the team back in the uniforms that people had identified with IUP for years.
"They were worn for a long time with tremendous success," he said. "Most people with a passion about IUP football identify with that look."
IUP will get one more week of camp before playing competition Sept. 10 against East Stroudsburg. Cignetti said that preparations for ESU will begin later this week.