The Youngstown State football team's season opener is just three days away, but the team's injury list hasn't gotten any shorter. In fact, it's even gotten longer.
Six players have already been ruled out of Thursday's game against Slippery Rock, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium.
Five others players are listed as day-to-day and their status won't be decided until game time.
The most recent injury, as far as the regulars go, has been senior tailback Josh Cayson, who sustained a shoulder injury last week and is expected to miss seven or eight weeks.
Three potential starting offensive linemen will all miss the opener and probably several more games.
Sophomore guard Josh Tanner isn't expected to be back until the Gateway Conference opener against Illinois State, recuperating from a shoulder injury that required off-season surgery.
Junior tackle Pat Walker is nursing a knee injury and his return is still up in the air, while sophomore tackle Tyler Booth, who has an injured elbow, is week-to-week.
Morton out for yearwith injured knee
Junior wide receiver Tyler Morton will miss the entire season with a knee injury. He is scheduled to have surgery next week.
Senior tight end Shawn Carlson, who has been hampered by high blood pressure and has practiced sparingly this fall, will also miss the opener.
Sophomore defensive tackle Greg Jacobs, who has a shoulder injury, will miss the opener, but is expected back for the second game.
Then there are wide receiver Jameson Evans (ankle), junior tailback Marcus Mason (ankle), junior wide receiver T.J. Peterson (shoulder) and junior fullback Demetrius Ison (ankle).
All of those players are listed as day-to-day and their status remains unknown for Thursday.
Freshman redshirt tight end Chris Kenney hasn't yet taken the field as he continues to battle with his diabetic condition.
Kenney is expected to begin workouts this week, but obviously won't be ready for the opener.
Coach not soconcerned -- yet
Has all of these losses had an effect on Penguin coach Jon Heacock? Not really.
Of course Heacock would love to have all of these players ready to go Thursday night, but he knows that's not going to happen and he knows that injures are part of football.
"This is something that is not that unusual," Heacock said. "When we looked back at our preparations for Slippery Rock a year ago we found that we were almost in the identical situation with six or seven regulars hurt and unable to play in the game.
"Is it a concern, definitely," he continued. "But it would be much more of a concern if this was the first week of Gateway Conference play and we didn't have all those players."
The Penguins did make a position switch this week, moving junior Justin Reams from cornerback to tailback because of the injuries.
"With Josh out and Demetrius banged up we felt that we needed another body in the backfield," Heacock said.
Reams began his YSU career as a tailback, but was switched to defense a year ago.
"He'll be able to give us a hand at both positions until we get everybody back," Heacock said.
Football promotionsschedule announced
The YSU athletic department announced its promotional schedule for the football season.
The first 15,000 fans Thursday will receive a schedule magnet, sponsored by Giant Eagle and WKBN-TV (27). There will also be a post-game fireworks show by Phantom Fireworks.
On Sept. 10 against Northeastern the first 7,500 fans will receive a stadium cup, sponsored by McDonald's, Cortland Banks, Armstrong and WFMJ-TV (21). It will also be Forum Health/McDonald's Kids Tailgate Fun Day.
On. Oct. 1 against Illinois State at 6 p.m. the first 7,500 fans will receive a Senior Schedule Poster, sponsored by National City Bank and WYFX (17/62), while on Oct. 15 against Western Illinois the first 7,500 fans get a Penguin Koozie, sponsored by Coca-Cola, Sheely's and WKBN-TV.
The Homecoming and Hall of Fame game is Oct. 22 against Missouri State. Rally Towels, sponsored by WFMJ-TV and Farmers National Bank, will go to the first 7,500 fans.
The season finale Nov. 12 against Western Kentucky is Senior Day and the first 10,000 fans will get a team picture, sponsored by Subway, Sherwin Williams, WBCB and the Tribune-Chronicle.
XPete Mollica covers YSU athletics for The Vindicator. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.