Some things haven’t changed for YSU, Samford in 25 years
By Charles grove
It’s been 9,115 days since Youngstown State and Samford played at Stambaugh Stadium for the right to play in the 1991 national championship game. Although today’s game is merely a first-round matchup, there should be quite a few similarities between today and Dec. 14, 1991.
YSU ran the ball a ton in 1991 and they’ll likely run it plenty today. Last playoff meeting, the Penguins rushed the ball 81 times and racked up 341 yards, a mark that stood until Week 1 of this season when YSU rushed for 394 against Duquesne and then was broken again last week when the Penguins totaled 572 rushing yards at Missouri State.
This year the Penguins (8-3) are “merely” averaging 260 yards per game on the ground and three running backs (Martin Ruiz, Jody Webb and Tevin McCaster) are all averaging more than five yards per carry. Ruiz and Webb are averaging a combined 166.4 yards per game so while 81 carries might be asking too much, a healthy dose of that duo is expected.
Samford tried passing the ball in 1991 and that’s likely to be the course of attack again for the Bulldogs (7-4).
Nearly 25 years ago, Samford attempted 43 passes. This year, Samford is averaging 347 yards per game through the air on 45 passes and quarterback Devin Hodges has thrown 33 touchdowns as opposed to eight interceptions.
Samford was completely dumbfounded from a running perspective during that 1991 game. The Bulldogs amassed -4 rushing yards on 16 carries that day. YSU’s defense had a similar performance this year against Robert Morris when the Colonials managed -13 yards rushing in a 38-6 Penguin win.
Even the weather should have a throwback feel to that day. The mean temperature on Dec. 14, 1991 according to Weather Underground in Youngstown was 36 degrees with a 9 mph wind.
Today the weather around kickoff is expected to be 37 degrees with an 8 mph wind. Weather that Penguins could call bearable.
YSU should have more of a passing attack this time around. After four starts this year, Hunter Wells is beginning to settle in.
The junior is averaging 148 yards per game through the air and already has more completions than Ricky Davis did in three fewer games — 58 completions for Wells, 55 for Davis.
Wells had a near-perfect game last week against the Bears. He completed 15 of 16 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown pass to Alvin Bailey right before halftime.
Should Samford not throw six interceptions today like they did in 1991, wide receiver Karel Hamilton should be the player to watch for the Bulldogs. Hodges’ main target has 100 catches this season for 1,242 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Tickets for today’s game can be purchased at Stambaugh Stadium or by calling 330-941-1978.
Defensive end Avery Moss, who has been battling an ankle injury this week has practiced sparingly this week and isn’t likely to start. Sophomore Johnson Louigene is likely to fill Moss’ spot.
Moss has 12.5 tackles for a loss this year, 10 sacks, four forced fumbles and a recovered fumble this year.
Johnson has five tackles and one sack in nine games played and one fumble recovery.