YSU preparing for pass-happy SDSU
By Charles grove
Things aren’t getting easier for the Youngstown State football team the deeper it goes into the season, in fact, they’re getting more difficult.
Next for YSU (5-1, 3-0 Missouri Valley Football Conference) is a road test at South Dakota State (4-2, 3-0). The Penguins were spanked last year 38-8 by the Jackrabbits at Stambaugh Stadium and last week SDSU did the unthinkable by beating top-ranked North Dakota State on the road, handing the Bison their first loss of the year.
While quarterback Ricky Davis practiced with the first-team offense during Tuesday’s practice, it’s not known how healthy he is. Pelini said he “anticipates” Davis playing this Saturday.
Redshirt freshman Nathan Mays is now the backup quarterback and the third-string emergency quarterback is unknown. Trent Hosick is out for the year with a broken collarbone and Hunter Wells is still nursing a sore shoulder, according to YSU head coach Bo Pelini.
All of those hurdles might be enough but a report by Purdue.247Sports.com about Pelini being interested in the Purdue head coaching position is not likely to help focus a team playing for sole possession of first place in the MVFC.
A call to Pelini was not returned Tuesday. YSU athletic director Ron Strollo had no official comment.
As far as defensive end Derek Rivers is concerned, YSU needs to fine tune as the schedule continues to get tougher week by week.
“The margin for error is only going to get smaller as the season goes along,” Rivers said. “That’s just how we’ve got to attack it.”
The Jackrabbits are averaging 40.7 points per game and 70 percent of their offensive yards have come through the air, which is something the YSU defense hasn’t quite seen yet this year. South Dakota State quarterback Taryn Christion is averaging 323.2 passing yards and has 22 touchdowns compared to just two interceptions.
“This will be the first time we see a team that throws the ball more than they run,” Rivers said. “[Christion] is athletic. He can throw the ball and they throw the ball a ton.”
Still, Rivers said that won’t affect how the YSU defensive line will attack sophomore quarterback.
“We’re going to rush the passer the same way we’ve been doing all season,” Rivers said. “[Former defensive line] coach [Tom] Sims always said, ‘Scared money don’t make no money.’ We need to attack him just like we attacked [Northern Iowa quarterback] Aaron Bailey last week.”
Pelini said there was little time to savor that emotional victory.
“We put that game behind us pretty quick,” he said. “We come in Sunday and it’s over. You watch the film and you move on. That’s the challenge you have, get up each week.”
With Mays now moved up in the pecking order, he’s not the scout team quarterback anymore and he’ll be getting plenty of first-team snaps this week in preparation.
“I have a lot of confidence in Nate,” Pelini said. “He’ll get more reps this week, which will help him. He’s smart and a good player, just young.”