YSU FOOTBALL Penguins strong at wide receiver
The passing game could take some of the pressure off the running game.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- When the Youngstown State football program was enjoying its championship run during the 1990s, the Penguins were a dominate running team, passing only when needed.
In recent years the running game has still been the Penguins' bread and butter, but the opposition has made changes defensively to slow the running game.
This season, with the presence of freshman redshirt quarterback Tom Zetts and another healthy crop of running backs, the Penguins appear to have a complete offense.
One of the reasons is a crop of receivers that might be the best the Penguins have had in a long time.
YSU coach Jon Heacock likes the group and feels it can be a big help to the team.
"They have a chance to be a pretty good group," Heacock said. "But it is still going to take good protection from our line, our quarterbacks getting them the ball and then them taking care of it when they get it."
Heacock said the Penguins also can make use of the talented group on special teams.
"They'll block and they'll run and block on returns and they can be of great help," he said. "I think a lot of that is due to the competitiveness at the position. You know only so many can make the bus, and one way to make that bus is on special teams."
Senior wide receiver Philip Larmon, a fifth-year player from Worthington, is excited about the crop of receivers.
"This is definitely the best overall group of receivers that I've seen since I've been here," he said.
And he's been around for a while.
"Yeah, I joke around and tell people this is my 19th season, but actually it's only been five years," Larmon added. "Usually at this time of the year I'm telling you about my hamstring pull or something, but this year I feel great and can't wait for the season to start."
Larmon said that with the group of receivers it doesn't matter who's in the game.
"They're going to get the job done," he said.
Larmon, senior Matt Rycraft and junior Kyle Smith are the current starters.
Zetts makes difference
He was also quick to add that Zetts has been a huge addition to the offense.
"The timing has never been better this year," he said. "We've always been able to run the football, but now we have the ability to throw it well also. Last year we kept the defense on the field way too much. Maybe we can help them out this year."
Larmon said the group's overall attitude is also a big plus.
"We've got a lot of guys returning. I don't really think we lost much at all on the entire offense, and we have guys who have plenty of reps in game situations," he said.
Still lots to prove
Still, Larmon feels this team has a lot to prove.
"We haven't won any hardware," he said. "We haven't done anything, so we are all like freshmen in that aspect. Now we have to first prove something to ourselves and then to the rest of the world."
The Penguins held two workouts on Saturday, the morning session in pads and the afternoon workout in shells.
They are slated to work out once today at 2 p.m., hold their third two-a-day session on Monday and then conduct the jersey scrimmage on Tuesday at 3 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium.