YSU expected to start Mays at QB
By Brian Dzenis
Quarterback Hunter Wells is recovering well from the separated shoulder he suffered last Saturday, but it’s not likely that he’ll be ready to play for Youngstown State against Central Connecticut State this weekend.
“For this week, he’s probably doubtful, but it shouldn’t be long-term,” Penguins head coach Bo Pelini said. “He’s already a lot better and he’s been responding to treatment.”
Sophomore Nate Mays filled in for the senior after he went down on the team’s opening drive against Robert Morris. Should Mays get hurt, Ricky Davis — a quarterback-turned-wide receiver this past spring — is practicing under center this week.
“We have a lot of confidence in Nate, he’s played a lot of football for us,” Pelini said. “It’s nice having Ricky. He has a lot of experience even though he hasn’t taken any snaps this fall, but he can help us in a pinch.”
Another senior on the team does not have as good a prognosis as Wells. Cornerback D.J. Thomas is out for the season due to a previously undiscovered blood clot issue, Pelini said. He can redshirt to gain a year of eligibility next season.
SAFE AND SUCCESSFUL
Hurricane Irma hasn’t been a distraction for Florida-transfer Justus Reed. His hometown of Clearwater, Fla., was in the path of the storm, but the junior defensive said his family is safe. His mother came up to Ohio with him when he joined the Penguins, while his father stayed behind.
“It hasn’t been that taxing. I haven’t heard about what’s been going on other than [what’s happening] at my dad’s house,” Reed said. “If I keep my head in football, I’ll be fine I guess.”
He’s the Penguins’ leader in sacks through two games with four. He had two last week against the Colonials and was close to getting a few more with three QB hurries.
“I was kicking myself. I’d probably lead the country in sacks right now,” Reed said. “I’ll get it back eventually.”
As a team, the Penguins have 10 sacks on the season, which has all come from the defensive line.
“I think we found out pretty early in camp that our ends are good football players and I think we get a good push,” Pelini said. “I think our inside guys were even better than they were a year ago. I think they’re playing pretty well.
“We do some things differently than what [Reed] is used to and I think he’s made the transition well and I still think he’s learning in some areas,” Pelini added. “We’re trying to clean up his technique. I think he’s still raw, but I think he’s a good talent.”
Junior Zak Kennedy a busy game against Robert Morris last week. The Cardinal Mooney graduate was three for four with his longest make coming from 30 yards. His one miss came on a 57-yarder that was wide right, but he’s confident he has the leg for those kicks.
“I was upset that I missed it. I know coach Bo and coach [Carl Pelini] had a lot of confidence in me to make it,” Kennedy said. “I got tied up in the moment and tried to kick it too hard and ended up pulling it a little bit.”
Kennedy said in the offseason he can get his range to 70 yards on the practice field and 60-65 yards in a game provided the wind, snap and hold come together. Kennedy said he and the head coach often speak before games to get a sense of his range.
“I told him, ‘As long as you get me to the 40-yard line, I can make it,’” Kennedy said.
Bring up the fact the Pelini’s Penguins have played six quarters of shutout football and there’s no discussion of jinxes. The Cleveland Indians’ ongoing winning streak is a different story.
“Don’t curse them,” Pelini said. “You’re not supposed to talk about it.”