The junior punter boomed the ball in Sunday's special teams scrimmage.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Joe Bishop has been working on a few things over the winter and the Youngstown State junior punter seems to have definitely helped himself with his efforts.
The Penguins held their annual spring special teams scrimmage on Sunday afternoon in a snowstorm at Stambaugh Stadium.
And Bishop was one of the standouts in the session.
The 5-10, 193-pound player from St. Thomas Aquinas High School near Canton was booming the ball in the scrimmage under anything-but-normal weather conditions.
Bishop punted the ball 14 times in the scrimmage and averaged 39.9 yards a kick. But when he was most impressive, he was kicking out of his own end zone.
Bishop kicked five times from his own 1-yard line and averaged 44.5 yards a punt, including his first two kicks which traveled 48 and 47 yards.
"I thought those kicks from the end zone were just tremendous," YSU coach Jon Heacock said. "Joe has worked hard over the winter and this spring and his work is paying off in big dividends."
Bishop said that there were a couple of things that he really worked on over the winter.
"I really worked hard on flexibility, just getting myself limbered up to kick," he said. "I also worked on keeping the ball lower as I was kicking so that I was able to get it out and further downfield. A lot of times last year I was catching it too high and was getting a lot of height, but not enough distance."
Bishop said he felt good about his performance.
"I felt pretty good today, but I know that there is still a lot of room for improvement," he said. "I was pleased with the way I was kicking out the end zone.
"In those situations, you know that you have to get the ball off quickly, but I was determined to get it out there so the opposition wouldn't have a chance for an easy field goal," Bishop said.
Bishop is beginning his third season as the Penguins' No. 1 punter. He averaged 38.3 yards on 62 kicks as a redshirt freshman. Last season, he improved that average to 40 and had his career longest punt of 70 yards. He also didn't have a punt blocked.
He did have one punt blocked in Sunday's scrimmage. Sophomore Dorian Chenault blocked his second attempt.
"We need to go over some things on our blocking assignments," Heacock said.
White team wins
While Bishop handled all the punting duties in the scrimmage , the White team won the session 15-12. Freshman redshirt Brian Palmer from Mineral Ridge did all the placement kicking.
"We divided the squad up into two teams, so that also had something to do with the blocking assignments today," Heacock said.
Palmer, the 5-11, 173-pound kicker, started the scrimmage soundly, but the weather caught up to him later in the session.
He kicked eight field goals between the two teams, his longest was 42 yards . He missed on six attempts and had one blocked.
"We really like what we've seen of Brian this spring," Heacock said. "He's got a strong leg and he works very hard. Now we've got to work on his consistency."
Bishop and Palmer are the only two kickers in camp and both can punt or kick if needed. But both are best at what they are doing now.
The Penguins will have another kicker coming in the fall as they recruited Halley Ferrell out of Deland, Fla.
The 5-11, 180 pound player punts and kicks. He averaged 43.2 yards a punt his senior year and kicked 28 field goals in his career, the longest being 53 yards.
The Penguins are slated for a full contact workout today at 3 p.m.
Tuesday, the team will hold their annual Red and White Spring Game draft at 11:45 a.m. in the DeBartolo Club of the Stadium and then will wind up practice with a light workout on Wednesday.
The annual spring game will be played Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium. Admission to the game costs $3 and the game will be broadcast by WNIO-AM 1390.