Let the games begin
IUP brings in new backup quarterback just in time for its first game against East Stroudsburg
Published: Friday, September 9, 2011
Updated: Friday, September 9, 2011 12:09
IUP Head Coach Curt Cignetti has brought a lot of new faces to the IUP football program.
And he's not done yet. The Crimson Hawks will have a new backup quarterback for their first game of the 2011 season when they host East Stroudsburg 4 p.m. Saturday at George P. Miller Stadium.
Former University of Connecticut quarterback Michael Box, transferred to IUP this week, was quickly placed on the roster and will be in uniform for the game Saturday.
The new transfer is no threat to incumbent quarterback Pat Smith who will be making his first start since Sept. 11, 2010.
"I am very pleased with Pat Smith," Cignetti said during his weekly press conference Wednesday. "He has done a good job and has improved, and I think we have improved the supporting cast on the outside."
Cignetti is also pleased with Box, so much so that he brought him in to shore up the quarterback position in the event Smith goes down with an injury again.
"[Box] is intelligent and the concepts are universal – it is just the language he needs to pick up," Cignetti said.
The backup all summer had been freshman Anthony Perna. Although he did show signs of being a serviceable backup to Smith, his inexperience ultimately led Cignetti to bring in another arm to shore up the depth.
"I was really concerned about the depth at quarterback," Cignetti said. "Anthony Perna is getting better, but he is a freshman, and that is asking a lot of him. It also gives us a chance to add quality and adds immediate depth to our football team."
IUP is gaining depth in multiple areas as players are coming back from injury. Good news for the Crimson Hawks was center Anthony DiPasquale is not seriously hurt.
Cignetti said during his press conference that DiPasquale is close to being ready to play. One position that the Hawks have a lot of depth at is the running back position with Harvie Tuck, Teddy Blakemen, Ben Sasu and James Johnson.
"My philosophy when it comes to every position is that if a guy can play winning football, then they will have a role," said Cignetti. "As long as they're performing we're going to find a role for them. I want to keep guys fresh, playing fast, and we haven't talked about the rotation yet."
The Hawks and their newfound depth will host East Stroudsburg, which won its first game last week in dominating fashion, 56-14, over Pace.
"They're going to be a real tough opponent," said Cignetti. "Offensively, the quarterback really functions well, and they have good running backs and wide receivers. They also have a good offensive line as well."
ESU's starting quarterback, senior Ray Wagner, had a record-setting day against Pace. He completed 13 of 20 passes for 375 yards and six touchdowns. His six touchdowns all came in the first half — an ESU school record.
Wagner finished the game with 321.5 pass efficiency rating — another school record and the third-highest in Division II since 2008.
It isn't just the offense that is cause for concern.
"Their defense is really aggressive," said Cignetti. "They have a blitz package that could cause you some problems. They also have a good kicking game and their coach has been there a while."
Although the defense is cause for concern, the Warriors gave 186 yards rushing against Pace — something that could play right into the hands of the Crimson Hawks and their deep backfield.