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COLLEGE FOOTBALL YSU begins contact sessions



Published: Mon, April 11, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Penguins held their annual "Hoot 'n Holler" drill on Sunday.

By PETE MOLLICA

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

YOUNGSTOWN -- Once again they were "hootin' " and "hollerin' " at Stambaugh Stadium Sunday as the Youngstown State football team went through its first day of full contact on the fourth session of spring practice.

The team held its annual "Hoot 'n Holler" drill that kicks off the opening of full contact and according to coach Jon Heacock it was another outstanding drill.

"I though the enthusiasm was just great and there was a lot of good contact out there," Heacock said.

"We've just had four great days of practice, the weather has been unbelievable and the kids have been doing everything that they've been asked to do," he added.

Still a long way to go

"We're a long way from where we need to be 144 days from now, but we are right where I expected us to be at this time," Heacock said.

The 144 days for Heacock is the countdown to the season opener against Slippery Rock on Sept. 1.

The "Hoot 'n Holler" drill, which pits three offensive players against three defensive players with one running back and one defensive back, is a fan favorite every spring and fall.

Sunday's drill ended about even with the defense holding a slight edge by stopping the offense from scoring on six occasions, while the offense managed to get five scores in the session.

"Its been four great days," Heacock said. "We haven't had any serious injuries, just a few bumps and bruises, but that's to be expected."

Smith sat out Sunday

Senior wide receiver Kyle Smith sat out Sunday's session after receiving a slight concussion on Saturday, while junior offensive tackle Pat Walker is being bothered by a slight case of tendinitis in his knee. Both are expected to be back at full go this week.

The team held a controlled scrimmage at the end of practice and while neither side dominated there were some exceptional efforts on both sides of the football.

"It wasn't great, but it is what you expect to see on the first contact day," Heacock said.

The Penguins' three new additions on the defensive side of the ball all appear to be fitting in well with the unit and are expected to add immediate help.

Transfers impressive

Sophomore defensive end Greg Jacobs, a transfer from Vanderbilt; sophomore linebacker Maurice Smith-Davis, and freshman defensive tackle Mychal Savage all looked pretty good in the first contact session.

"You can see they have talent, but right now they are really up over their heads just learning the system," Heacock said.

The fifth-year coach was pleased with the work of all three quarterbacks -- sophomore starter Tom Zetts, senior Aaron Marshall and sophomore Vince Gliatta.

"You can just see the difference a year makes back there," Heacock said. "They are not coming in here just learning, but they are instead bringing experience to the position."

The team will have today and Tuesday off before returning to the practice field Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m. It will be another full contact session.

The Penguins will hold their only jersey scrimmage of the spring April 22 at 3:30 p.m. The Red and White Spring Game will be played April 29 at 7:30 p.m. at Stambaugh.

mollica@vindy.com




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