Critical scrimmage for Penguins today
By DAN HINER
The Youngstown State football team has one more scrimmage scheduled before the start of the upcoming semester. Today at 10 a.m., the Penguins will compete in a scrimmage to help fill in the available starting positions before the season begins.
Players from both sides of the ball said the scrimmage will have one main goal — work on the finer points and essential skills for each position.
Linebacker Armand Dellovade said the defensive players need to specifically work on tackling because it’s the only time the defense can hit without worrying about injuring a teammate.
“I think the main thing is tackling,” Dellovade said. “During training camp, there are times where you don’t know if you want to lighten off and not tackle or if you want to tackle and risk people getting hurt. But tomorrow the big emphasis is going to be on tackling and getting people running around.”
The offense has struggled during the past couple days of camp. But the offense and defense were more evenly matched Friday—especially on the offensive and defensive lines. The offensive line opened holes in the run game, while the defensive line created pressure on passing plays.
Running back Joe Alessi said the offense needs to work on the basics during the scrimmage. He said the offense is starting to come together but the group will continue to progress during the rest of camp.
“[We’re trying to work on] executing, cutting down on mental and physical errors,” Alessi said. “Right now we’re in a bit of a rut. We need to get up and get going, but I think we’ll be fine. We just need to cut down on our errors.”
Alessi said the offense will be OK because players are starting to understand their roles and what is required more and more every day.
YSU head coach Bo Pelini said the team will focus on the little details for the rest of camp. He said the little things can always be improved and become more consistent.
“It’s no different from what we’ve been doing. I want to see guys, individuals as a group, communication getting better,” Pelini said. “I want to see the efficiency getting better, less missed assignments and guys taking their coaching to the practice field. If they do that and guys keep making progress, that’s all you can ask for at this point.”
Alessi said the scrimmage provides a chance to younger players to process the game in a practice situation. He said scrimmages allow players to understand their reads and assignments in a “game-like” environment before contributing in real games.
Dellovade said the scrimmage is important for the players competing for any undecided positions because the team will start planning for its season opener against Pitt during the start of the semester.
He said Saturday provides an important opportunity for young players, especially since underclassmen could potentially contribute as kickoff and punt returners.
“Tomorrow’s a huge day because we’ll probably be starting practice for Pitt soon,” Dellovade said. “It’s kinda one of the last days for everyone to secure their spot. Tomorrow is definitely a big day for some of the new guys around here.”