Joe Knows

From big wins to heartbreaking losses, all the while with a pair of head-scratching coaching arrests looming overhead, the roller-coaster ride that was the Knights’ 2011 season made Cedar Point look like a retirement home.

The 2011 season, however, was not played in vain. On the contrary, the youthful Knights proved they have the talent and personnel to put together a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference-contending team in the near future.

Finishing 2011 with a respectable 4-7 record, Jim Kiernan’s squad will enter the 2012 season with a young, athletic core of players.

The Knights will lose 13 of their opening-day starters, but should return much of their depth, which proved to be one of Gannon’s strengths throughout the season.

Gannon will have its work cut out for itself this off-season, but some decisions should merit little consideration.

Knights in Coach K’s court

Kiernan should shoulder a little of the blame for the sophomoric behavior of his assistant coaches.

The Knights had to endure weeks of scrutiny following the October arrests of coaches Darren Paige and Michael Smith along with graduate assistant Anthony Ferla, who was relieved of duties.

For future reference, Kiernan should make it a priority to hire high-character coaches for his staff; aim for guys like the Stoops brothers and Brian Kelly, not the Spinks brothers and R. Kelly.

But consider Kiernan’s track record—in his first four seasons, Kiernan produced 72 academic all-conference honors. Most importantly, Kiernan is a solid man and is a great leader for the team.

Tab Tapscott

Gannon found its quarterback in redshirt freshman Daniel Tapscott.

Tapscott took his lumps this season, literally. He absorbed many hits and endured pressure just about every time he dropped back. But he took it all in stride and even developed pretty good poise in the pocket.

Tapscott has proven he has the arm, the smarts and the savvy to be an elite PSAC quarterback, and now that he has a year of starts under his belt, Kiernan should take off the training wheels, open the playbook and give his quarterback a chance to show his stuff.

Jonesing for the opportunity

A quarterback’s best friend is a running game, and sophomore running back Jansen Jones showed that he has the game to take some of the burden off the passing game in recent weeks.

Jones’ downhill one-cut style fits in nicely with the Knights’ offensive scheme, and the running back’s durability (29 carries against Slippery Rock) should come into play as Gannon’s offensive line will have to rebuild due to graduation next year.

Gannon needs to address several voids left by this year’s seniors, but the Knights should be in a position to be competitive in 2012.

JOE CUNEO

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