YSU FOOTBALL Defense to be very active for Penguins this season
Youngstown State has a new defense, one that takes advantage of its speed.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Last spring when the Youngstown State football team put in a new defensive system, the initial reaction was panic by the Penguins.
New defensive co-coordinators Mike Kolakowski and Dana Chambers joined the Penguins in the spring and promptly began putting in the new defense.
"In the spring we had only put in about half of the total package," Kolakowski said, "Coach [Jon Heacock] wanted base fundamentals, base techniques and base coverages."
"They absorbed that very well in the spring, now we bring them in an put in the multiple part of the pressure orientated defense and the kids really like that," Kolakowski said.
"They can get after it and they've taken to it and it's something that they can really get after," he added. "And you're seeing what it's been doing to our offense and that's a darned good offense."
Praises his players.
"You have to give a lot of credit to these kids," he added. "We've thrown a lot of stuff at them in the last five months and they haven't backed down a lick."
The Penguins have suffered some setbacks due to injuries, especially at linebacker where senior Yancey Marcum, the team's top tackler from a year ago and two-year starter, has been sidelined with a pectoral muscle tear.
The defensive line has been hampered off an on with injuries also.
But in both cases there have been young players step up to take up the slack.
"You take a Jeremiah Wright [5-10, 200 pound sophomore linebacker] for example," Kolakowski said. "You watch him in the spring and he was totally lost, but today he's a complete linebacker. We've now taken the thought process out of his mind, he just goes out there and goes."
A lot of movement
The new YSU defense is one that will include a lot of movement, blitzing and pressure, according to Kolakowski.
"We're not really big enough to sit in a base defense against most teams," he added. "There will be times when we'll have to, but most of the time we'll be a motion defense and you'll see seven, eight and nine players around the football all the time."
"Our linebackers can run and our defensive secondary can run and we even have some defensive linemen who can run. We're very excited about this unit."
Kolakowski handles the secondary, while Chambers is the defensive line coach.
Chambers is pleased with the effort he's been getting from his linemen.
"We're way ahead of what we were in the spring," said Chambers. "This is fall camp and you're going to have some guys nicked up a bit, the problem is that when we get some back we lose somebody else. But they are working very hard.
Chambers has experience on the line led by seniors Matt Briggs, Nate Baston, Matt Porter and Justin Martin, along with juniors Brandon Brown, Ron John-Finn and Justin Scholes who all have experience.
"Of the new kids we have freshman Jose Galloza has made the biggest showing and could see some action this year, but he's also been banged up some," Chambers added.
Kolakowski also came up with a big smile when asked about redshirt freshman linebacker James Terry, who transferred from the University of Virginia.
"I've been coaching a long time, but I've never seen a freshman with his maturity, the way he's picked up the package and with the size and quickness he possesses," he added.
"He's a very good football player and we hope that he keeps progressing the way he has been," he said. "We kind of came up with a gem there."
The Penguins will conclude fall camp tonight with a 7 p.m. practice at Stambaugh Stadium. The team will vote on this year's captains following the workout and they will be announced before Monday's afternoon practice at 2 p.m.
Classes begin Monday and the Penguins will practice daily at 2:30 p.m. until the season opener Sept. 2 against Slippery Rock at 7:30 p.m.