Youngstown State’s two-man quarterback race just got a little more crowded.
Sophomore Tanner Garry played well in YSU’s second spring scrimmage, making a case that he should be considered alongside junior Dante Nania and redshirt freshman Ricky Davis.
“Those three guys are in the thick of it,” said YSU coach Eric Wolford, who spent more than half of Saturday’s 100 plays on third-down situations. “Tanner stuck himself back in the race a little bit today. It had been a two-man race up to this point.”
Garry found a rhythm midway through the session, converting four straight third downs at one point and five of six.
On the second-to-last series, Garry threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Christian Bryan on third-and-8. That was the lone conversion in the final 13 third-down plays of the afternoon.
“It’s still a pretty good [QB] race,” said Wolford, who told reporters at last weekend’s scrimmage that Nania and Davis had separated themselves in the race to replace Kurt Hess. “I think it’s getting down to two guys, but we’ll look at the film again.”
Offensively, YSU was solid on third downs last season, converting 47 percent in conference games to rank third in the 10-team Missouri Valley. Defensively, the Penguins were last by a wide margin at 56 percent. The next-worst team was Indiana State at 45.3 percent.
“It’s just a crucial part of the game,” Wolford said. “We really felt like third down hamstrings us when it comes to taking the next step for this program.”
Wolford praised YSU’s defense on Saturday, saying it played “outstanding.” He said the defensive line is, by far, the most improved group on the team.
“You can see it,” he said. “It’s glaring. They’re aggressive, they’re fast. [Senior defensive end] Vince Coleman has been a one-man wrecking crew. He’s been very physical and that’s part of his game he didn’t have last year.
“Desmond Williams at end has tremendous speed. Interior-wise, Octavius [Brown], [Steve] Zaborsky, [Emmanuel] Kromah, [Eric] Myers — they don’t get a lot of style points, but they’re very solid inside.”
Offensively, he was critical of the line, saying, “Those guys didn’t come to play today.”
“It’s hard to evaluate their [the quarterbacks’] play when they’re constantly assaulted with pressure,” he said. “If they’re not going to have an opportunity to throw the football, we’re not going to have a chance to be successful.”