Pelini, YSU get cerebral in latest workout
put focus on issues
By Charles Grove
Wednesday’s practice for the Youngstown State football team at Stambaugh Stadium didn’t include much hitting, but had plenty of focus. Think chess instead of professional wrestling.
The players were in no pads and wore just jerseys, helmets and shorts as the coaching staff tried to focus on some of the problem areas before Friday’s scrimmage.
“We were at more of a teaching tempo today,” YSU head coach Bo Pelini said. “We just wanted to work on some spread stuff. We really took some of the things they were screwing up on and exposed them to it. We wanted to get some certain things fixed and be very focused on what we were trying to do.”
Things like defensive-back positioning pre-snap and reads on second- and third-receiver options were the focus of multiple teaching moments before the offense and defense go live Friday.
“We’re just going to let them go [Friday],” Pelini said. “We’ll see if guys can execute and see where guys are.”
With all the bumps and bruises the team has picked up over the spring, Pelini said he just wants to get a good, quick practice in on Friday and then move onto the summer offseason.
“We’re not going to go a real long time [Friday],” Pelini said. “We’re going to get our work done and get out of there. Now it’s time to get into the next phase of the offseason, get guys out of here and get ready for the offseason program.”
Friday’s scrimmage will be one last chance this spring for quarterback-turned-wide receiver Ricky Davis to show what he’s got before fall camp. While he said he still wants to work on getting off the line quicker and blocking better, Davis said he’s exceeded every expectation he had when spring ball began.
“To be honest, I came into the spring thinking I was just going to be playing a role of just participating and just being here,” Davis said. “But it turns out I’m competing for a spot and I have a chance to start. It’s exciting and I’m going to hit it full force.”
While Pelini said the low-intesity practice can help players focus better when they’re not worried about hitting each other, sometimes the opposite can happen with offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo’s men.
“When you don’t have the pads for our guys I think you saw early in the team periods a lack of focus because you can’t tee off and get physical,” Bricillo said. “You emphasize feet and hands more [without pads] and you like to get into the season and be able to take the pads off and still be able to function with the technique and get things done.”
The offensive line has been battling injuries all spring, but Bricillo said that’s often when he’s getting the most development out of the players on the field.
“We’re not so low on numbers that we can’t function,” Bricillo said. “In my mind I’ll go play with whatever five we have available. If you don’t make a big deal about [the numbers] then they don’t make a big deal about it. They just know, ‘Hey, I’ve got to buck up, pull my weight and do a little extra.’”
YSU’s final scrimmage of the spring season will likely be inside the WATTS at 3:30 p.m. on Friday.