The Ursuline grad says defense won't get pushed around this year.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- For the Youngstown State football team to have any real success in the 2005 season, the defensive unit will need to perform a whole lot better than it did a year ago.
Last season, as the Penguins (4-7) suffered through their second straight losing season, the defense allowed 376 yards per contest while four opponents went over the 400-yard mark.
YSU senior defensive end Brandon Brown, an Ursuline High School graduate, said he knows the reason for last season's failures and feels the Penguins are ready to turn things around this year.
"Last year, we just were too small physically to compete in the Gateway [Football Conference], which is a smash-mouth type football league," Brown said. "We had some injuries, but overall we just were too small up front, and in most games we were just physically getting pounded up front.
"We've brought in a few new faces this spring and we've got some more help coming in the fall, and it should make a big difference next season," Brown said.
Brown, a 6-foot-1-inch, 257-pound defensive end, has started nearly his entire career. He's already earned three varsity letters.
Has 100 career tackles
Brown played in seven games as a freshman in 2002 and has played in every game since that season, making 10 starts.
He has 100 tackles going into this season. His best year was 2003 when he finished with 42, and he has 18 tackles for losses, nine of which came last season.
Last season, the Penguins also put in a new defensive scheme with the addition of two new co-defensive coordinators in Mike Kolakowski and Dana Chambers.
"I'm sure that had something to do with our problems, but even when we finally had the new system down we were still too small and really banged up so much that we never could do much with it," Brown said.
"This year we come in knowing the system and we've added some size, we're definitely looking for a big turnaround this year," he said.
Taking on leadership role
Brown, who was an All-Northeastern Ohio and All-Steel Valley pick his senior season at Ursuline, had 29 sacks during his final two high school seasons. He's only had seven in three seasons with the Penguins, four coming last year.
Being a senior on the team, Brown said he knows that his role has changed with the Penguins.
"I always like to lie back and not get too much in the limelight, but now that I'm a senior I've got to be much more of a leader on this team," he said.
The Penguins did not hold workouts Thursday, but will return to drills at 3:30 p.m. today at Stambaugh Stadium. They will also work out at Saturday at 10 a.m.