IUP FOOTBALL: Crimson Hawks pleased, but not satisfied yet
His team is undefeated, ranked in the top 10 nationally, and is coming off a 49-point blowout of Cheyney. So you might think IUP head coach Curt Cignetti is a satisfied man.
You’d be wrong.
As his Crimson Hawks prepare this week to take on Seton Hill in their Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division opener Saturday, Cignetti is pounding into his team the idea that nothing has been achieved yet.
Being 2-0 is nice, he figures, but it doesn’t mean anything now.
So the goal for his players is to continue improving. And that starts with them being better today than they were yesterday.
“I thought we made progress last week, and we’ve got to continue to make progress this week,” Cignetti said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. “I mean … there’s not a guy on the team who I feel can’t still improve. … We need to continue pushing forward. This is the time of year when teams kind of separate themselves a little bit. That’s why it’s important that we get better on the practice field this week and then on Saturday.”
This isn’t to say Cignetti is unhappy with what the Crimson Hawks, who stayed No. 8 in this week’s American Football Coaches Association Top 25, have accomplished so far. Instead, he chases the goal of perfection, a challenge that always leaves room for improvement, even after a 49-0 win against an outmanned Cheyney team.
With perfection in mind, Cignetti isn’t at ease as IUP prepares to take on Seton Hill, which is coming off a 70-7 shellacking at the hands of East Stroudsburg last weekend.
Instead, he hopes his team embraces the difficulties of playing a team that is off to an 0-2 start and struggling to find an identity.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Cignetti said. “But look, the only way to get better and reach your full potential is to improve every single day. You’ve got to focus on the present. You either get better or you get worse. You never stay the same. So, to put ourselves in the best position to be successful, we’ve got to take it one play at a time in practice, and one day at a time and stay focused on the present moment. But kids are kids, and it will be a challenge. … But we’ve got a lot of areas that we’ve got to get better.”
INJURY UPDATE: There’s mixed reports about center Matt Sasson and linebacker Alexander Berdahl, both of whom suffered hand injuries in the Sept. 7 season opener at Southern Connecticut State.
Sasson is listed as week to week but will not play against Seton Hill. He could, though, be back Sept. 28, against California in the annual “Coal Bowl.” When he does return, Sasson will play guard because the injury happened to his right (snapping) hand, and he would still be unable to snap the ball for awhile.
As for Berdahl, Cignetti said the senior will be out at least another month after having surgery. Dorian Lane will continue to start in his spot.
In other injury news, strong safety Eric Williams (ribs) is back in the fold and will start against Seton Hill. Cornerback Jerrell McFadden (knee), who did not play against Cheyney, will start at cornerback.
Defensive lineman Larry Gooden (knee) is questionable because he is awaiting the delivery of a knee brace, which isn’t expected to arrive until today at the earliest. Cignetti said Gooden will not play Saturday if he doesn’t practice today, and that seems doubtful at this point.
Backup quarterback Logan Weaver is listed as questionable with an abdominal injury that kept him out of practice all of last week.
NO LINE CHANGES: Cignetti said the re-worked offensive line will stay the same this week after playing well against Cheyney.
Byron Dovales and Bruce Atkins will be the tackles, with Nick Carnicella and Jorge Vicioso at guard, and Mike Charmo at center.
“I thought Charmo did a good job at center, and I think Nick and Byron played well,” Cignetti said. “Jorge got his feet wet at right guard and did a good job, and Bruce did a good job at right tackle. I thought that they kind of jelled a little bit. I think they certainly played better than they did the first week.”
The line was reshuffled last week because of the injury to Sasson at center.
NOTES: This will be IUP’s first-ever meeting with Seton Hill. The Griffins, former members of the now-defunct West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, have only been fielding a football team since 2005. The program has an all-time record of 20-70. … IUP is No. 9 in the d2football.com national rankings. … Through two weeks, IUP leads the PSAC in scoring defense (10.0 points per game) and is second in total defense (283.5 yards per game), passing defense (155.0 yards per game) and passing efficiency (180.9 rating).