They are back, Hawk Nation: your IUP football team is back on the field and getting ready to compete for the 2021 fall season.
The IUP football program officially got back on the field March 19. Head coach Paul Tortorella and the Crimson Hawks have 15 practices scheduled during the months of March and April, which include an intrasquad scrimmage and the program's spring game.
All practices are from 3:45-6 p.m. and are subject to change. The spring game is currently scheduled for Wednesday, April 21 at George P. Miller Stadium.
Spectators have been able to watch practice and were asked to be socially distant from each other.
It seems the extra time off may have caused some friction in the first week of practice.
Tortorella was not pleased with the play of his squad, despite having the 2020 season canceled.
“You can make a lot of excuses,” Tortorella said in the March 29 issue of the Indiana Gazette. “I mean, you’ve got so many distractions, but you know, it’s time to forget about that and just do what you’re supposed to do.”
This reaction was even more surprising considering how well the team had performed in the first week of practice. In fact, going into last Monday’s practice, he was happy with how his team had performed. That happiness was not infinite.
“I was pleased with everything up until today, to be honest,” Tortorella said. “It’s like every football team right now in (NCAA) Division II, they’re all saying the same things: ‘We’ve got to learn how to play football again. We’ve got to be physically and mentally tough. We’ve got to play with discipline. We’ve got to be accountable.”
IUP finished the 2019 season with a 10–2 overall record and posted the program's fourth NCAA Division II playoff appearance in the last five seasons. It was also the program's 13th 10-win season all-time, and the fourth since 2012.
Despite their impressive regular season accomplishments, this squad has not won a playoff game since the 2017–18 season. Perhaps this might be the reason behind Tortorella’s demeanor in practice.
Too many times the past few seasons, this squad has come up short in big games that they should have won. Tortorella obviously is set on winning, and wants to make sure that this squad feels the same way.
Despite uncertainty due to COVID-19, this squad will still have to go through Slippery Rock and California University of Pennsylvania next season if they want to have any chance at a national championship.
While it may only be spring practice, it looks like the Crimson Hawks mean business.