Joe Knows

Following the resignation of football coach Jim Kiernan, Gannon is left to pick up the pieces of a program missing its most important cog.

The puzzle that Kiernan tried to solve, however, is beginning to take shape for the brass at Gannon.

Kiernan, who resigned after a 4-7 record in 2011, was part of a Gannon program that found stability in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. And while he wasn’t a direct part of the move to the PSAC, Kiernan helped the Knights find a home in the conference.

Prior to settling in the PSAC, Gannon had waded too far into the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC)—routinely among the most powerful conferences in the country.

After 15-hour bus rides to Michigan and a combined 9-35 mark against the likes of national title contenders such as Saginaw Valley and Grand Valley State began to take a toll on the Knights, Gannon finally found its niche in the PSAC in 2008.

The move benefitted few Gannon squads more than the football team, which has been able to create a recruiting pipeline as well as establish a more impactful regional presence.

And the Knights haven’t stopped there.

In the last four years on the field, Gannon has put up records of 4-7, 6-5, 6-5 and 4-7, and gained signature wins over crosstown rival Mercyhurst in the process.

While marred by off-field issues in 2011, the Knights have the talent to be a legitimate contender in the PSAC in 2012.

As Kiernan said after every loss last season, “We beat ourselves.”

And if his theory holds any water at all, a more experienced Gannon team should be capable of being competitive in every game.

And with returning underclassmen at skill positions, such as quarterback Daniel Tapscott (redshirt freshman), running backs Alex Papson (freshman) and Jansen Jones (sophomore) as well as receivers Justin Caliste (freshman) and Jonathon Jones (junior), the Knights should be in a position to do just that.

However, it can’t happen without help from the guy sporting a head set. And the Knights could receive a boost if the next coach isn’t afraid to open up the offense next season.

A common problem plaguing the 2011 Gannon football team was an inability to consistently get the ball in its playmakers’ hands.

If the Gannon brass were to ask my opinion, I’d say seek a coach with a spread offense background who’s not afraid to air the ball out occasionally.

 

 

JOE CUNEO

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