By JOE SCALZO
Youngstown State tackle Andrew Radakovich gets some of his best sleep in hotel rooms, so he welcomed coach Eric Wolford’s decision to leave early for this weekend’s game at Illinois State.
“You’re just away from all the distractions of being at home,” he said. “[At home] you have all your game systems and people to be around but when you’re at your hotel, it’s just you and your team.”
It helps that his roommate, senior guard Lamar Mady, doesn’t snore.
“Me and Lamar are very sound sleepers,” said Radakovich, who doubles as the team’s funniest interview. “We don’t make any noise at all.
“We do a little cuddling before and just go ahead and [sleep].”
When Will Shaw, who was standing next to Radakovich, was asked whether he’s also a cuddler, he smiled and said, “No, tight ends don’t do that.”
For the first time in Wolford’s tenure, the Penguins will leave two days before a game in hopes that his team will be fresher and more focused for Saturday.
Wolford has never been thrilled with the team’s conference road trips — Youngstown State is more than 400 miles from the Missouri Valley’s next-closest team, Indiana State — and he felt last year’s 71⁄2-hour Friday bus ride to Terre Haute contributed to a lackluster first half. The Penguins fell behind 21-0 in the first 11 minutes before losing 37-35.
“I felt like in the past maybe on some of these road trips that we’ve been a little bit fatigued by the time we get to the hotel,” said Wolford, who is 3-7 on the road in conference games. “I visited some other coaches that I think a lot of and talked about travel options and a bunch of them have told me they leave Thursday when they have these long days on Friday.
“So, we’ll give it a shot.”
It’s not a perfect theory — YSU had its easiest MVFC road trip last week against North Dakota State and lost 48-7 — but for a coach who has lost four conference road games by four points or fewer, it doesn’t hurt to try something new.
“This [Illinois State] trip in the past has been a pretty lengthy trip when you factor in busing to Pittsburgh airport, sitting around, then flying to Chicago and busing down to Bloomington [Ill.] and obviously having to stop and eat a couple times,” said Wolford.
Instead, the Penguins will bus to the University of Illinois today and have a walk-through at the school’s indoor facility on Friday, followed by dinner, chapel and meetings.
“The unique thing about leaving on Thursday is, now I have their full attention for basically another whole night,” Wolford. “If you’re here at home on Thursday night, they’re probably taking Suzie Q out for pizza or wings.
“We’ll see how the game goes, but I like the fact that we’re together and I have their full attention.”
According to WFMJ, YSU is near a deal to play at Ohio State in 2015. The Penguins played in Columbus in 2007 and 2008, earning $650,000 each time.