Back at backup: After spending the first seven practices at safety, sophomore Dante Nania moved back to QB on Thursday and was Kurt Hess’ primary backup in Saturday’s scrimmage, completing 4 of 6 passes for 28 yards. “Dante’s done well,” YSU coach Eric Wolford said. “It was a good move putting him back at quarterback. He’s got a stronger arm. I think a lot of times confidence goes along with that. Coach [Shane] Montgomery and I were talking just yesterday that it just seemed like he’s a year older and more mature. He doesn’t get rattled as easy. He went right back over [to offense] and still has a good grasp of the offense.” Third-stringer Nick Wargo, a redshirt freshman, was 3 of 4 for 31 yards and a TD. Hess completed 4 of 10 for 56 yards and a TD. Sophomore WR Marcel Caver continued his strong spring with three catches for 32 yards and a TD and Michael Wheary had four catches for 37 yards and a nice TD catch at the end of practice.
Smith stepping up: Redshirt freshman Jameel Smith has emerged as the starting free safety, with junior Donald D’Alesio moving to strong safety. “He’s a smart kid and he’s picking up the defense really well,” D’Alesio said. “I’m helping out a little bit when he doesn’t know but he’s learning everything and he’s a good athlete. Hopefully he’ll continue to pick it up and get better.”
Picking it up: Sophomore linebacker Dubem Nwadiogbu had two interceptions, D’Alesio had one and Josh Garner returned an interception for a touchdown during the scrimmage. The Penguins would have had five picks, but linebacker Ali Cheaib dropped a high floater that bounced off TE Nate Adam’s hands. “Of course he had an excuse,” Wolford said. “He said, ‘I thought I was gonna run into Jameel Smith.’” When D’Alesio was asked about the drop, he smiled and said, “Ah, that kid. I’ll get on him later in the locker room.”