By Caitlin McKinney
LOGOS SPORTS EDITOR
With a new high-profile coach and high hopes for the team, we take a look back on how the football team performed this season and what can be expected next season.
Coach Larry Kennan speaks about the team and what changes need to be made and talks about the overall performance of this past season where the team recorded a 2-9 record in his first year as the Cardinals’ coach.
“It was very interesting,” Kennan said. “As a team we didn’t win as many games we hoped we would win. And there are reasons for that. One, we’re a new program in our fourth year of competition and two, we’re playing a schedule that’s really difficult.”
Not only does it take dedicated practice and athleticism, but according to Kennan, it’s also about the other teams. Whether it’s going against teams that are either more advanced in skill or are easy teams to beat, it’s all about who the team plays against during the season.
“It’s a little bit of who you play and what conference you’re in,” Kennan said. “Like I’ve said to our teams many times, if you’re scheduled properly, maybe we can get some wins early in the season and we can learn how to win a little better and win a couple games later on. “
So with a new schedule in mind for next season, Kennan stresses the need for a certain skill within the team. Kennan goes on about what the team lacks and what’s needed to be more successful next year.
“We’re looking for speed,” Kennan said. “We need speed for running back, we need speed for receiver, we need speed in defensive backfield and we need speed at linebacker.”
Kennan said he looks forward to the upcoming 2013 season. With widespread recruiting and a large group of upcoming freshmen, the coach believes the team will continue to build over the next few years.
This year, the recruiting was essential in finding what Kennan calls “Difference Makers.” These are the kind of players that have the technique to make big plays and can be used in a lot of the game play.
On recruiting, Kennan said, “A couple things help that. No. 1, you have to go get numbers. You have to have a lot guys in the program. The other thing is, I have a Super Bowl ring and that is a high-profile thing that is going to attract more players. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’m better than the other guy. It means I can go into a house and the parents are impressed and that can up our deal.”
With “Difference Makers” and a solid team, Kennan believes the Cardinals can make it to bigger and better wins.
“I’m really looking forward to next year because we have a young team and these guys are dedicated and really want to play. Our level is going up each year. In two years we will be playing at a much harder level and I think we’ll be ready.”
Because Incarnate Word is still new to college football, the program will have to continue to increase player numbers and build a solid reputation, Kennan said. With any new program, it takes tweaking until they find something that works, he emphasized. For the Cardinals it will take building a program that attracts people and pulls in kids to come play for a team such as UIW. Kennan said he has faith that UIW will make a name for itself within the college football community.
“What we have is a beautiful school in a beautiful city, and our biggest problem is that places like Houston, Dallas and even San Antonio don’t know who we are and what a beautiful place this is,” Kennan said.
With high hopes and plans on how to continue to improve the program, Kennan and the team believes they have a great future and the football program will grow into a successful part of UIW athletics.
“We ask the team, who thinks we’ll have a conference championship in the next three or four years, and they all say we can do it because they believe we know what we’re doing and we’re on the right path.”
E-mail McKinney at firstname.lastname@example.org