YSU defensive lineman laments preparation problems
By Brian Dzenis
There’ was plenty to point out that went wrong for Youngstown State in a 23-21 upset loss against Butler in the season opener.
There was Kendric Mallory’s holding penalty that negated a 64-yard touchdown run from Christian Turner in the second.
There was the Bulldogs’ opening drive on which QB Will Marty marched 74 yards in four plays to score a touchdown.
YSU took nine penalties for 97 yards.
The Penguins allowed Marty to connect with the same receiver three times in a row late in the fourth quarter.
For defensive tackle Savon Smith, it comes back to lackadaisical preparation.
“I told the guys that it started with us. It starts with being late to practices and meetings. Those are little things we’ve done that hurt us,” Smith said. “As one of the leaders, I take responsibility for that. I told the guys that we’re not missing anything else.
“We going to be committed to this team. We’re going to be committed to this city and committed to football,” he added. “We have something to prove for the rest of the season.”
GUMMY’S FIRST START
Saturday’s contest was the YSU debut of senior quarterback Montgomery VanGorder. The longtime Notre Dame reserve made his first collegiate start and it started rough, but got better as the game went on.
His first half was turnover- and sack-free and he found Miles Joiner on a three-yard TD pass, but things weren’t always smooth with some balls going behind their intended targets. The second half was another story.
VanGorder was a perfect in the third quarter, going 7 for 7 and taking advantage of his receivers burning the Bulldog secondary with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Samuel St. Surin and a 44-yard touchdown pass to Mallory to create a 21-7 lead.
He finished the game 18 for 27 for 234 yards and three scores. He picked up 23 yards with his legs.
Zak Kennedy missed two field goals at 33 and 48 yards. Head coach Bo Pelini has backed Kennedy after coming off a 2017 season in which he was the second-worst kicker in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in terms of accuracy and range. That might change after Saturday.
“I’m going to be looking at every option. We can’t continue that this year,” Pelini said. “Everybody on that football team took their turn offensively, defensively and special teams, the coaching. It was a perfect storm.”
YSU has sophomore Colin Burdette and freshman Grant Gonya at kicker should Pelini make a change.
A few players were observed tugging at their pant legs on Saturday to try and stay within NCAA rules. This year, the NCAA instituted new rules regarding uniforms. The main ones include requiring the entire kneecap to be covered, stomachs can’t show, back plates can’t be exposed and t-shirts can’t be shown below a jersey.
STILL ON LEAVE
YSU co-defensive coordinator Richard McNutt was not at Saturday’s game. University spokesman Ron Cole said on Wednesday that his status was pending because he is currently the subject of an internal investigation.