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Much to like about Wolford

Published: Mon, April 12, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

A few minutes after the first day of YSU’s spring practice, after Eric Wolford had made fun of one of his player’s tans, bragged about his good looks and needled a YSU employee about his connection to the weather gods, WFMJ sports director Dana Balash looked at me, grinned and said, “Now that was different.”

There are a lot of good things you can say about former YSU coach Jon Heacock — he had integrity, he knew defense, he cared about his players — but, well, he sometimes came across a guy with as much personality as a pair of sweat socks.

That’s definitely not Wolford’s problem.

He’s a straight shooter, he doesn’t dodge questions and he doesn’t really have a huge filter between his brain and his mouth.

I like people like that.

Wolford has only been a head coach for about four months but you’d never know it from the way he’s handled himself. He know what he wants, he know where he wants to go and he’s done a pretty good job articulating his vision to his players, the media and the community.

Will that translate into wins? Who knows?

But I like what I’ve seen so far.

Here are the highlights of Wolford’s first spring practice at YSU. (And mine):

Top performances

Wolford and his staff haven’t been effusive in their praise this spring — they rule by tough love and fear — but a couple names stick out.

Offensively, running backs Jamaine Cook, a junior, and Torrian Pace, a redshirt freshman, have ranged from solid to terrific. Redshirt freshman running back Dan Banna has taken advantage of his opportunities. And while senior wide receiver Dominique Barnes has had a rough transition with the coaching staff, he’s been arguably the team’s best player in its two scrimmages and Saturday’s spring game.

Wolford hasn’t said anything good about his offensive line but that’s no surprise. He’s going to be harder on that position than any other on the team.

Defensively, senior defensive tackle Torrence Nicholson (who sprained his foot and missed the spring game), linebackers Taylor Hill (a sophomore) and Deonta Tate (a junior), senior safety Andre Elliott and senior cornerback Brandian Ross have been mentioned the most by the coaches. Also, junior linebacker David Rach opened some eyes on Saturday.

Best interviews

Coaching-wise, there’s no better interview than Wolford. But defensive coordinator Rick Kravitz is a lot of fun and special teams coordinator Louie Matsakis is a really good guy.

Offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery, a former head coach at Miami (Ohio), reminds me a little of Jim Tressel in that you’ll interview him for 10 minutes and think, “Wow, what a good guy.” Then you look down at your notebook and realize there’s nothing good in it.

Player-wise, I’d go with Ross, Pace, senior lineman Eric Rodemoyer, sophomore tackle Andrew Radakovich and junior quarterback Marc Kanetsky, who I wish was three inches taller and 30 pounds heavier.

Five quotes I loved the most

Wolford, on Kanetsky’s hairy legs: “He might be part werewolf. If we ever get fleas, we’re in trouble.”

Kanetsky, on his quarterback competition with Hess: “It’s not cutthroat. It’s not like you’re paying guys to take out his knee or anything.”

Wolford, on whether it’s a difficult adjustment for Pace to run with his pads lower: “No, you just have to get a bat out.”

Kravitz, on coaching at Western Michigan the past two years, then coming to YSU after spending his whole career in south Florida: “The first time I’m at Western Michigan and they were talking about that snow effect or lake effect and I didn’t know what the heck that was. The lady should have just said blizzard because that son of a gun was cold. And then I got here, I found that black ice. I’ve went down a couple times since I’ve been here so it’s been an adjustment.”

Wolford, on motivating players, “You’ve got drive young people. You can’t Google football. That’s a big problem we have right now. Everything’s given to these guys. Can’t Google football. Can’t cut and paste it.”

Joe Scalzo covers YSU football for The Vindicator. E-mail him at scalzo@vindy.com.


1tatum32(6 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

I think this guy is gonna make us proud again..ROAD TRIP .LOL

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2ysupenguins_com(108 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

I to am really impressed with how much improvement Kanetsky has made in such a short time ...but if Hess gets just a little more velocity on his passes ...he will be just too tough to stop. If I had any criticisms:

1. Tradition. I know Wolf wants things a new, but traditions transcend coaches/players ...they are for the fans. Entering the field in a "hive" is one of the greatest parts of our tradition. The spring draft is also crucial. Quite frankly, the spring draft tells me more about a player than any words from the coach. What your peers think of you is so important. Red vs. white should be equal. Players should not be told they are second team at spring ...ie: Josh Lee is 2-year letterman and a top return man ...but wearing white? Let the guys draft their players & vote their captains.

2. Stout, swarming, and stingy defenses are another ...this is Ohio, not Florida.

Terrific spring game. Those of you that did not tailgate missed it. I cannot wait for August!

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3valleyred(1103 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

1. I think they are going to be getting a transfer from what I was told.

2. Tradition? You have got to be kidding me. The former players I talked with love the fact he is going to be marching through the tailgate lot this fall and doing a number of other things as well which will excite fans.

3. Spring Draft? New coach, new system, let them do what they want to do. The Red v. White Game Saturday was a hell of a lot more entertaining than any under Heacock.

I love the fact that the players in white uni's were fighting for a starting spot. Dan Banna had a huge day and is one of the big reasons why I liked the format.

4. Kravitz knows a lot more about defense then you do. The players like it I can assure you.

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