STAMBAUGH STADIUM YSU defenders hope for improved scrimmage
The offense fared better in the first two jersey outings.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Today's final jersey scrimmage of the season is expected to be an interesting one and will be watched closely by Youngstown State head coach Jon Heacock and his staff.
The scrimmage, which was to begin at 3 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium, is the third jersey scrimmage of the year.
The first two were held during spring practice, with the offense dominating both sessions and keeping the red practice jerseys right into fall workouts.
But the defense, which implemented a new system in the spring, has been improving and is expected to give the offense a battle today.
"We're certainly hoping it will be a good scrimmage," Heacock said. "I know that they are working very hard on both sides. Their enthusiasm is great and [knock on wood] we've been relatively free from injuries."
This past weekend saw several Penguins return to the practice field, namely junior tight end Shawn Carlson of Boardman and senior linebacker Yancey Marcum.
Carlson, who was nursing a hamstring pull, is back to full go and will scrimmage today.
Marcum, who suffered a pectoral muscle injury during the summer in the weight room, will probably not scrimmage.
Junior defensive end Ron John-Finn returned to drills last week and was finishing up his four days of practice without pads, but should be ready for today's scrimmage. John-Finn, a transfer from South Carolina in 2002, was held out of practice because he didn't have his personal insurance papers in order, a requirement of the university.
The only body still missing from workouts, and it's a big one, is that of junior transfer Ricky Valenzuela, an offensive line prospect from Glendale Junior College in California.
Valenzuela was completing a correspondence summer school class, which was set up by his junior college, and is still awaiting his final papers.
"Ricky should be getting those papers sometime this week and hopefully by the weekend he'll be cleared to practice," Heacock said.
Valenzuela is listed at 6-3, 350 pounds on the roster, but team trainer Dan Wathen said that's only because that's as high as the university's scale goes.
"He's probably closer to 360 or 365," Wathen said.
Several players are still nursing minor injuries which will probably keep them out of today's scrimmage.
Freshman offensive tackle Justin Decker of Struthers has a sprained ankle, while senior defensive back Herb Jones is bothered by a knee problem.
Two other Penguins, both diabetics, have been having problems regulating their sugar levels and are day-to-day problems.
Freshman tight end Chris Kenney of Howland and freshman walk-on quarterback Matt Zuppo of Girard are both type-1 diabetics.
Monday was the third double session of the season for the Penguins and they only have one more remaining on Thursday.
The team has a rehearsal scrimmage slated for Friday morning and will have Saturday off. Classes begin next Monday.
"It's still hard to believe that school begins that early," Heacock said.
The Penguins will be in school nearly two weeks before they open the season on Sept. 2 at home against Slippery Rock University at 7:30 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium.