IUP FOOTBALL: Spring game not just another scrimmage
Paul Tortorella doesn’t want to end his first spring as a head football coach by having just another practice and then packing the equipment away until August.
Instead, the first-year IUP coach is planning to end spring drills on Friday with what he hopes feels more like a celebration of the program rather than a whimper of an ending. His plan will be on display Friday when the Crimson Hawks wrap things up with their annual spring game at George P. Miller Stadium.
The teams will take the field to stretch around 6:15 p.m., with the first play scheduled to be run at 7 p.m. Admission is free.
“It’s something different,” Tortorella said. “It can kind of get monotonous at this point, so this is a little more like a game to end the spring.”
In years past, under other head coaches, the Crimson Hawks held either another scrimmage or nothing at all to end spring drills. But Tortorella wants to reward his players for their efforts, show to the fans the hard work the team has done, and increase interest in the program by holding an event like this.
“We just want to have a little more fun with it,” he said.
It won’t be a regular old scrimmage, either. The game will feature the IUP offense vs. the IUP defense, with each side able to score points. The offense will get six points for a touchdown, three for a field goal, two for a two-point conversion and one for an extra point. The defense will receive seven for a touchdown scored, three for a forced turnover, two for a safety, forced punt or fourth-down stop, and one for a missed field goal by the offense.
The first-team offense will take on the first-team defense for two series, and the second teams will face off for another two series. After that, substitutes will be worked in, and Tortorella’s hope is that a lot of players will get in the game.
The clock will start with 14 minutes showing. After each possession, a minute will be removed, although two minutes could be taken away if the drive lasts longer than eight plays. The hope is for there to be 14 total possessions.
There will be no punting, but each offensive unit will be able to kick field goals and extra points.
As an added twist, there will be two guest coaches on each side of the ball: Mark Richards, the vice president of marketing at Indiana Regional Medical Center; and Tom McConnell, the IUP women’s basketball coach, will join the offensive staff, while S&T Bank president Todd Brice and IUP men’s basketball coach Joe Lombardi will work on defense.
Tortorella said the guest coaches “might” be able to call a play or two.
“We’ll see,” he said.
Although there are more than 70 players on the spring roster, Tortorella said some of the bigger names — especially on offense — will sit out the scrimmage. He said players such as wide receiver Walt Pegues and running backs Chris Temple, Samir Bullock and Luigi Lista-Brinza probably won’t take part out of fear they could suffer a needless injury.
“We don’t need to get any more guys hurt,“ he said. “For the guys who are going into their fourth year, especially who have had success, we’re better off (playing) the other guys. That gives them a chance to show what they can do.“
Despite some absences, Tortorella is expecting a well-played spring game. He doesn’t want to end the monthlong series of practices on a bad note.
“I want to see both sides execute,“ he said. “I don’t want to be sloppy. I don’t want a lot of mistakes. I’d like to see whatever side wins, to have earned it. I want good competition.“